Villa beat Cardiff 1-0 on Tuesday night. Dave Woodhall makes a few comments.
When I was younger I wanted the Villa to play every day; now it almost seems like they do. No sooner had we got over the disappointment of Saturday’s trip to East Anglia than it was time to haul ass (the odd American vulgarism helps pass the time) down to Villa Park for the arrival of Cardiff City.
On Friday night this was potentially the biggest game of the season so far but Saturday afternoon’s no-show put paid to that idea and we were faced with the prospect of needing a result to keep our hopes of finishing fourth on track. It wasn’t a particularly optimistic scenario.
And the line-up, with Axel Tuanzebe at left-back and Mile Jedinak in central defence in front of Glenn Whelan, a late replacement for the injured Birkir Bjarnason, wasn’t exactly cause for optimism, either. It’s taken Tuanzebe a while, but he’s eventually done what’s expected of a new Villa signing, going off injured midway through the first half.
That aside, there wasn’t much to say about the first 45 minutes. Villa tried to play football, Cardiff predominantly tried to stop them. One of these teams is better at what they were attempting to do than the other. Then in stoppage time Sam Johnstone pulled off a couple of what could prove to be incredibly valuable saves.
The second half carried on much how the first had left off. Never has a manager been more aptly anagrammed than the man sitting on the visitors bench and he’s built a team in his own ugly image. They foul, they niggle, they argue with the officials and as with all teams of this persuasion, each man does just enough to avoid getting booked before another takes over. I’d like to have some respect for a team who have done so well on such limited resources, but it’s difficult to have a good word to say about such an outfit.
Villa didn’t look particularly lively or inventive, but they had improved when Jonathan Kodjia came on for the ineffectual Albert Adomah with half an hour to go. Eventually good triumphed over evil and Jack Grealish escaped the attentions of his markers (a term that has more than one meaning on a night like this) to fire home a twenty yard volley that was being celebrated from the moment it left his boot. And as the photos have shown, it was particularly celebrated by our celebrity supporter, probably because it was against the team his dad’s the Prince of.
Three points, and a lot of frustration at what it could have meant if only Villa hadn’t lost on Saturday. But que sera sera, and we’re edging closer to a play-off place followed by a trip to Wembley. Whatever will be, will be. Now for the next match, Leeds on Friday night. Like birthdays as you get older, they come round so quickly.