I’ve got to say that I thought that the match last night was an extremely enjoyable one. It was freezing cold, yes, but Villa finally won after their recent results woe and everyone got an opportunity to see just how good our next generation could be.
This was a game that was full of incident, packed with chances, deflections and controversy galore. It started fairly brightly, with both teams getting a few chances, Blackpool’s coming through Villa old boy Marlon Harewood (who I dedicated my old username to) and Villa through two of that abundance of young talent that is coming through, Marc Albrighton and Ciaran Clark.
The first goal of the game came on the 28th minute after some lovely work by Ashley Young as well as the ultimate opinion divider Stuart Downing, who finished well via the aid of a deflection off another Villa old boy, it being Rob Edwards this time.
That turned out to be the highlight of what I thought was an awful first-half performance by the one-time ‘golden boy’ of English football (circa 2008) Ashley Young. Some may say that the use of the adjective ‘awful’ is a little harsh, but almost every pass went astray, and this was even accompanied by a seemingly disinterested attitude. Boy, you wouldn’t believe how much that statement’s got me thinking about what can change in 15 minutes.
That wasn’t to say that the action in the first-half was over either, with the aforementioned Harewood, yep, it had to be him didn’t it? making it level on the stroke of half-time. It was a neat piece of play from the Seasiders I thought, and in truth it bought them a goal that was probably deserved on the balance of play.
There were a few, well, two at the most, spectators who I noticed went downstairs on the concourse for the second half and then never came back up again – I bet they wished they did now.
Villa nearly scored right after half time with an Ashley Young volley going tremendously close, while James Collins nearly managed to score with his head from a corner in what was part of about 50 chances from corners across the game, and I’m only exaggerating a little, scarily.
Then Delfouneso should have had his first goal of the night when a cute little header found its way into the corner, but owing to the referee making the first of two bad decisions, the score remained at 1-1.
The second soon followed, with what looked to me to be a clear foul on the Brummie striker in the area, no penalty said the referee however, cue a choice Holte End chant about the quality of the referees involved in Aston Villa games. I’ve stopped singing it myself to be honest though, as I’m sure I’m not the only one to have worked out that the reason Villa ‘always get shit refs’ is because, to give you the non PR version, all refs are.
Credit to Nathan though, the lad kept trying and he got his reward when Ashley Young put him through with a deliciously weighted ball that Nathan then finished like a seasoned Premier League goalscorer. 2-1 up with half an hour to go? Happy days.
Not so, as it turned out. Ian Holloway then brought on two first-teamers to compliment his reserves in this league fixture, Charlie Adam and DJ Campbell, and it was the latter who threatened to spoil the mood.
The bottom line was that Villa nearly cost themselves two points after both central defenders were just too weak on the edge of the box. They only gave the striker an inch, but that’s all he needed as he got his volley away which deflected off James Collins past Brad Friedel in what seemed like ever-so-cruel slow motion.
Blackpool then celebrated like a Premier League footballer who discovers that a brothel has just opened up on his road, but that gave Villa more time to score the eventual winner.
After many fans displayed understandable frustration at conceding yet another late equaliser, Villa managed to go straight on the attack and win a corner. With his last headed chance of the game, James Collins finally made one of the set-piece chances count to at least give Villa their first three points since September 26th.
Cue all Villa fans having a fairly happy, or at least bearable, journey home. Manchester United next up on Saturday, easy game to capitalise on this win then…
Brad Friedel 7
Was his usual self and was very unlucky being beaten by that deflection
Luke Young 7
As reliable and dependable as ever
Stephen Warnock 6
Still doesn’t quite look like the player he was when he joined and was out-muscled a few times.
Richard Dunne 6
Slowly looks like he’s getting back to his best after a sluggish start to the season.
James Collins 7
Got in the way of a lot of thing Blackpool threw at Villa and scored an important winner.
Marc Albrighton 6
Played OK but is starting to look tired now. Moving Young back onto the wing and giving Ireland a chance may be an option.
Stuart Downing 7
Did many good things last night and is starting to look like the player many Middlesbrough fans knew and loved.
Ciaran Clark 7
Is proving a dab hand at this holding midfield lark.
Barry Bannan 6
Not quite as good as his Fulham performance but you can still see his quality.
Ashley Young 8
Terrible first-half, but that second half was the best I’ve seen him for a while. Showed how influential he still can be.
Nathan Delfouneso 7
Should have had two goals but will be happy with the quality of his only one.
Gabriel Agbonlahor 6
Good to see him back – it’s all about building his match fitness now.
Stephen Ireland N/A
Not enough time.
Not enough time.