Out with the old

Dave Woodhall on a Villa Park occasion that was a bit different.

Nothing shows the current popularity of football more than the fact that 21,430 is considered a poor gate for a League Cup tie; I can remember when Villa would struggle to get that many for a league match more than a handful of times in a season. And few things show the modern obsession with the Premier League more than this being what will almost certainly be Villa’s lowest crowd of 2015-16.

Those that turned up certainly witnessed a memorable night’s football. With tickets starting as low as £12, each goal could have cost £1.50 – it’s a long while since you could say that, and under Paul Lambert you could have removed the decimal point. Tim Sherwood’s team selection bordered on bizarre, chock full of attacking midfielders and with Carlos Sanchez making his first and hopefully final bow as a central defender.

It’s fair to say that the game wasn’t one of Villa Park’s glory nights. Three times Notts County (that’s Notts County of division four) went into the lead, three times Villa equalised as the crowd sat back to await the inevitable crushing of the plucky underdogs. Eventually it happened, and Villa eased (!) into the third round and a subsequent draw that will see a crowd a bit bigger than this one. Hands up who remembers the score in the last few last times we’ve played them in a cup-tie at Villa Park.

There wasn’t much to judge from the evening’s proceedings. Vllla would undoubtedly be beaten any time they played like this in a league game, but then again Tim would surely never be insane enough to pick such a team when points are at stake, or for that matter in round three. The deadly duo of Traore and Grealish will be as dominant against much better opposition, Traore scoring his first goal for the Villa and Joe Bennett probably his last.

And maybe the goalscorer Villa so desperately need is already at the club in the hat trick-scoring shape of Scott Sinclair.