Waiting for the highlights

Dave Woodhall endures Villa’s goalless draw at Hull.

Hull used to be notable for being the biggest city in Europe that had never boasted a top-level football team. When they couldn’t say that anymore it became the answer to the most irritating football trivia question of all – ‘What’s unique about Hull City?’ The answer is that they’re the only league club whose name you can’t fill any of the letters in.

Now Hull are best-known for being the club who can attract the biggest number of puns. If you can work something about fish, hell and happiness into the same headline, congratulations. A job on the Sun awaits – just hand in your conscience in at the door, together with any shred of humanity you might still possess.

All this lengthy and contrived preamble is because I can’t think of much to say about Saturday’s televisual feast courtesy of the home side and Aston ‘Frustrating’ Villa. I could possibly work in a link between Villa and their fellow weekend light entertainment stars; Saturday Night Takeaway went on without half of its presenters while Villa did their best to serve up Saturday Night Giveaway by going missing for half of the match.

It had been a reasonable, if hardly confident, opening 45 minutes. Albert Adomah had skied the only decent chance but Villa were looking vaguely lively and with strength in depth on the bench courtesy of Scott Hogan and the returning Jonathan Kodjia, half-time saw some justifiable confidence that if the team stepped up the pace they should be able to get three points without too much fuss. Hull have been doing a bit better lately but they’re limited enough and even one goal should be enough to see them off.

But no. Villa went backwards and might have conceded a penalty had it not been for the fact that Championship teams are learning what their Premier League counterparts have known for years – don’t bother appealing if John Terry’s on the other side. Steve Bruce flung on forwards again, and once more had no idea of how to use them. Just because it hasn’t worked before doesn’t mean it will any day soon.

Sam Johnstone had far too much work to do for my liking but the game had pretty much fizzled out well before a merciful end was brought to a conclusion and the viewing public could turn over to whatever else they might fancy. There’s usually a repeat of Dad’s Army on at that time.

Despite the recent downturn Villa remain on course for the play-offs, although that’s no major achievement and in any case we should be looking up to the gap between us and second rather than down to see where the seventh-placed team are now. Bruce seems to have gone back to his old mantra that winning at home and drawing away is good enough, which is fine if you can do both.

Luckily the second part of the Easter double-header sees us at home to Reading, who are on the verge of the relegation battle and with a new manager. It’s on Tuesday night at Villa Park as well. What could possibly go wrong?