With the Holte End being in the papers the last week, Villan Dale Spencer looks back on the Liverpool game from his view in the North Stand
The first of three games against a trio of the last season’s top four teams, saw Liverpool visit to Villa Park in a game that brought much prematch expectation. There was promise of snow, a possible protest in the Holte and a chance of a rare double over Liverpool, none of which really materialised though.
It was a decent crowd of almost 40,000, from the North Stand, the Holte looked pretty full, a few strolled up from the concourse on the eighth minute and small chants of “Poor Support, My Lord” broke out. The build up and media hype transcended the actual event. The Brigada 1874 banner being held up in the corner of the Holte and Trinity facing the North, reading “FIGHT LIKE LIONS”, typified the mood.
The North stand was busier than usual. The seats to the right and in front of me were occupied by very unfamiliar looking fans. I suspected a few Liverpudlians may have gotten into the home end ala the United game.
The match got underway and it was more of what we are used to seeing from Villa at home this season, the Liverpool fans were loud as their team started brightly and bursts of ‘You’ll never walk alone’ and chants about Steven Gerrard filled Villa Park.
The Villa crowd seemed to be a lot more tolerant to the flat Villa performance this week, as they were playing a decent Liverpool side who had hit a little bit of form lately winning their last four away games before arriving in B6. The loudest cheer from the Villa fans came when a late flag denied a massively celebrated Liverpool goal, all four stands of Villa replied in typical fashion with ironic cheers back to the Scousers.
The first real goal came from absolutely nothing and there was no real reaction from the home support. There was almost a defeatist attitude in the North Stand of ‘here we go again’; the team had shown them nothing and they were giving nothing back. My suspicions of the gentlemen sitting to the right of me were confirmed as one of the stood up as the goal went in, the stewards came to give him a stern word and most of the North seemed to be more concerned with him rather than what was happening on the pitch.
Liverpool kept pushing forward with real quality and pace. Sterling should have made it two and myself among another 35,000 Villa fans sat there thinking there was no way back for the Lions. The invertible half-time boos came for Lambert and his men.
One comment I overheard from the seats behind was “Right, now for the real entertainment, the half time shootout”. It’s a game that Villa host every half-time where they lay down a mat on the half-way line opposite the Villa dugout with different sections, each of which represent a different prize. Four Villains get to try and kick the ball from the byline in front of the Holte and if it lands in one of the segments then they win the respective prize. We had our first winner since mid-way through last season, which brought the second biggest cheer out of the Villa faithful after the disallowed goal.
Villa started brightly in the second half, but Liverpool still looked menacing. The Villa pressure slowly eased off and the home crowd started to get frustrated once more. Villa then made two substitutions.
First Cleverley was taken off, this was met by massive ironic cheers, which I must admit I was a little uncomfortable with, I know the lad hasn’t done much since joining, but he does work hard…the cheers seemed to be unanimous with the supporters, the thing that I found slightly strange was that his replacement, Weimann had exactly the same treatment in Villa’s last home game against Crystal Palace. In my opinion it was unneeded and was probably born out of frustration with the team more than anything else.
Next it was Westwood off and Carles Gil on, and the Spanish midfielder was met with a good reception as all new signings are.
Villa burst into life after the changes, Gil and Sanchez looked to have little bit of chemistry together after being teammates at Elche. The crowd really did take to the new boy, he beat a man and the crowd were on their feet, it was such a contrast in emotion to the previous ten minutes. Villa did have Liverpool on the ropes for a while and some real chances did fall our way with the switch to a more direct approach.
The 20 minutes of promise from Villa was undone when Liverpool caught us on the counter. Delph gave the ball away deep in the Villa half and they were punished by a clinical strike from Rickie Lambert. The crowd were more hurt by this goal, as it really did kill the game after a little bit of promise going forward from Villa.
The away fans were louder than ever and a massive chorus of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ broke out from the Doug Ellis corner, which you could only admire even as a Villa fan. There were a few echo’s of ‘Lambert Out’ from the Holte towards the end and one or two individuals from the North voiced their discontent with the team and around the ground an early exodus began in protest.
And still no goal for Villa! UTV
Away Fans – 7/10
Their team played well and they when they did sing it was loudly, although there were some bleak periods in the game which wouldn’t really get anybody excited.
Home Atmosphere – 6-10
Despite a decent turnout of 39,758, the atmosphere was subdued for the majority of the game, however the home fans reacted passionately when the team showed them a bit of attacking flair after the introduction of Gil .
Check out Dale’s Youtube video as he reviews the season so far and transfer talk.