Villa win at Rotherham and Dave Woodhall is pleasantly surprised.
So sang Brummie ‘punk legend’ Toyah more years ago than I care to remember. I don’t think she’s a Villa supporter but regardless, there’s a few mysteries that have been going on lately.
On the 23rd February Villa were a goal down at half-time to Stoke. We improved in the second half and got a draw but at that point we were eleventh in the table, eight points behind Bristol City in sixth having played two games more than them. We were fifteen points behind fourth-placed Albion.
Since then we’d won six in a row and moved into the play-off places before travelling to that great cliche of seperate the men from the boys trips, a Wednesday night in Rotherham, although at least it wasn’t wet. How that turnaround came about is the first mystery.
The second came when Villa were a goal and a player down at half-time. Tammy Abraham had missed a penalty just as bad as the one Jed Steer saved last Saturday, Tyrone Mings had been sent off and Mile Jedinak was playing as an emergency central defender.
Villa were dreadful and the only reason they were still the second-best in the match was because the referee and his assistants were even worse. How did all that happen?
Six minutes later we were two-one up. An inspired substitution had seen Jonathan Kodjia come on for Anwar El Ghazi and another penalty was converted by the new arrival. Three minutes afterwards Jack Grealish beat a few of the the Rotherham team, took the rest out with a pass to Ahmed Elmohamady, collected the return and slid the ball into the back of the net. Another “How did that happen?” change in fortunes.
And that was pretty much it as Villa saw the game out with little fuss. Job done, three more points. Fifth in the table with a decent cushion between us and seventh, and Albion, still in fourth, are now only four points ahead. Bristol City remain a danger, but with them coming to Villa Park on Saturday another win will make the play-offs more probably than possible. Once again, how that all changed so quikcly is beyond my comprehension
And the biggest mystery of the lot was contained in the last two lines of the BBC online match report. “Glenn Whelan got his foot on the ball though to ensure it was cool and calm in midfield again. Just the kind of player you need to take the sting out of things.” We’ve needed that sort of player who can calm things down in the closing stages for years but never in a million of them did I ever think it’d be Glenn Whelan.
And so on to the next one. Tyrone Mings being suspended will be a blow but this is the Villa and anything can happen.