Aston Villa and making the easy things difficult

Dave Woodhall watches Villa draw at home to Brentford.

Unless I’m mistaken a group of Villa supporters had the opportunity to do what nobody else has managed for thirty years on Saturday afternoon. If you don’t know what it was, the answer is at the bottom.

Brentford at home should have been the ideal opportunity to put the jitters of the past few weeks behind us. The sun was shining, the match kicked off at three o’clock on a Saturday and the opposition were there to be beaten. John McGinn, Emiliano Martinez and Ollie Watkins were back, the rest of the team was at as full a strength as they’re going to be for the rest of the season and all was set for a comfortable afternoon of turning up, beating a team who aren’t as good as us and getting the number eleven home to watch Final Score and see how everyone else had got on.

For most of the first half that was what it seemed was going to happen. Brentford started off well but Vila soon got on top and it was obvious that the visitors had two ideas – defend in depth and hit the ball long. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t particularly effective once Villa had worked out that was all they had to offer. Over the years we’ve invariably struggled against the type of team that drag you down to their level and score when you’re wondering what to do next.

Wimbledon started it, then Leicester and Stoke perfected the idea to a fine art. None of them came up against this Villa team, though. We’ve had better teams but I’ve never known a Villa side where everyone looks so comfortable on the ball and this showed as we repeatedly opened up the visiting defence.

The inevitable goal came from a John McGinn cross, headed over the line by Ollie Watkins eight minutes before half-time. That should have been enough to win the game, and what came seconds after the restart should have doubly made certain, with Morgan Rogers hitting in a low shot to put Villa two up.

We remained well in control for the period after the game and with half an hour to go the only question was how much the goal difference would be improve before the final whistle.Then, oh dear. To let in one goal through a basic attack down the wing and a cross with more attackers in the box than defenders is bad enough, to make the same mistake three times in nine minutes is unacceptable.

To their credit, the team pulled themselves together and Watkins’equaliser with ten minutes left apparently equals our Premier League record for something called goal involvement, set by Dwight Yorke in 1996, to which I can only wonder yet again who the hell was counting back then. There were chances in the final minutes but it wasn’t to be and just as the bloke next to me was saying that Douglas Luiz hadn’t got involved much during the match and I said he was probably thinking of a potential ban for getting booked, he did just that with about three seconds left. It summed up the da.

And the answer to the question at the beginning – our supporters were allowed in the top of the away section, where unless I’m mistaken there’s rail seating. This meant that for the first time since 1994 we could stand legally at Villa Park.