Dave Woodhall watches Villa snatch a 3-3 draw at home to Sheffield United.
If I add up the things that get on my nerves (a list that seems to get longer by the day), high up on the list would be matches that get moved for TV, matches that get moved to Friday night, matches that get moved to cold, wet, windy Friday nights when the forecast for Saturday is a pleasant, sunny afternoon and top of the list most days is Aston Bloody Villa.
It didn’t take long after kick-off to realise that this was going to be a long, cold night. Villa were being taken apart by a Sheffield United side that cut through our invisible midfield at will and posed a constant threat. I made it seventeen minutes until a Villa player and the ball were in the United penalty area at the same time and by then we were already a goal down thanks to the deadly combination of a cross into the box and some non-existent marking.
Villa picked up a bit towards the end of the first half and didn’t look too bad in the second until a goal that was possibly offside at least twice in the build up and definitely came after Lovre Kalinic had the ball in both hands. Two down and that was the match done and dusted. Three down after another diabolical bit of defensive slumbering and it was damage limitation from then on.
Except. Just after Villa went three down, what seemed the most pointless and at the same time overdue substitution of all time had brought on Andre Green for the disappointing Jonathan Kodjia and Glenn Whelan for the downright appalling Mile Jedinak. Bringing on Whelan is usually a cue for a chorus of “You don’t know what you’re doing” aimed in the direction of the dug-out, but that particular chorus had already had an airing courtesy of a referee who spent the match looking for greater depths to plumb.
And tonight, he changed the game. Eighty-one minutes, and a sarcastic cheer greeted Villa’s first (I think) corner. Thirty seconds later and a muted round of applause from what was left of the crowd greeted Tyrone Ming’s goal. If nothing else it would help the goal difference.
Four minutes later, Tammy Abraham got another goal and you never know…
Five minutes stoppage time and much of it was spent in the wrong half but John McGinn gets the ball, crosses and the script was written for Andre Green, who hadn’t done much since coming on, to head the equaliser.
In the long run it was another draw, and one that will probably take Villa further away from the play-off places once Saturday’s games are finished. But, it was still memorable, the sort of game that will live in the memory much longer than a scruffy one-nil win, no matter how much three points would have been more important.
Looking further on the bright side, Tyrone Mings made an impressive debut; he and Tommy Elphick had the makings of a decent partnership and it’s always good to have a player who sends opposition supporters into fury by his mere presence. John McGinn was his usual all-action self and in the midst of the post-match reaction Tammy Abraham becoming the first Villa player to get twenty league goals since Peter Withe was largely overlooked.
And most of all, on the way out of the match I heard someone say that this was the most undeserved comeback of all time. I’d say that it was the most undeserved since the last Friday night game we played, and that particular injury-time travesty was the start of Villa’s run of poor form. This one might see a similar upward turn in the team’s fortunes. And if you think that’s unlikely, on Friday night bringing on Glenn Whelan made a three goal difference. If that can happen, anything can.