Our intrepid young travelling reporter Eamonn Smith compiles his personal favourite five Aston Villa away days of last year.
Aston Villa’s Top 5 Away Days of 2014
2014 may have not been the best year in terms of results for Aston Villa, but as per usual, regardless of the result, there was enough decent away day trips to keep spirits up throughout the year. There was a trip to Europe…for a friendly and some decent showings at Anfield, the only ground that Lambert seemingly can get his act together (he’s won two, drawn one of three visits there).
Here are my top 5 away games of the year of 2014…
Groningen – L 4-1 – Saturday 2nd August
Besides the result, this was a truly enjoyable away day, or weekend in my case. You often hear that European games in the history of Villa are the ultimate away days, so I was keen to go to Holland to see the Villa, even if it was only a friendly. Take away the performance from the team, and it was a very good experience, particularly being my first game in Europe with Villa. How long I’ll have to wait to go on a competitive European claret and blue adventure remains to be seen though. Lets hope Villa win the FA Cup this season!
Crystal Palace – W 0-1 – Tuesday 2nd December
This was a typical Aston Villa smash and grab away day victory. We took our chance with a bit of brilliance from Christian Benteke, running half the length of the pitch after tackling ex-blue nose Scott Dann and curling it into the far corner. We defended immensely throughout the game, and held on for a great win. Though it may have been backs to the wall at time, it made it feel even better. Clinching a win against a team that arguably will be in a similar position to us in the table is just what we needed.
While a lot is said about Palace’s home support, their dislike of their boss at the time, meant they were more subdued than usual and the Villa boys took advantage. Thousands of Villa fans made the trip down south on that midweek evening, and we left with all three points.
Liverpool – D 2-2 – Saturday 18th January
Keeping up our positive run of form at Anfield in recent years, Villa travelled to Merseyside with high hopes, and we weren’t disappointed. Two goals up in under 40 minutes, we were cruising, and to be fair should have been three or four up. Why. Can’t. We. Play. Like. This. Every. Week?
The welcomed return to scoring form of Christian Benteke made the game even more pleasing. We also saw the Gabby of old, running at defences, putting us on the front foot, really making a difference and impact in the game. You noticed the difference when he had to be replaced due to injury by Grant Holt.
Villa’s performance did not get what it deserved, as Daniel Sturridge scored in first half stoppage time, and what seemed a questionable penalty was conceded after troublemaker Luis Suarez went down in the box pretty easily.
To be fair, we did more than match Liverpool that day, a team that pretty much won all their home games and went on to be a mere slip away from lifting the league title. For once, the team really did us travelling Villans proud.
Liverpool – W 0-1 – Saturday 13th September
Villa playing well at Anfield really is becoming a running theme now, and we again witnessed a storming opening 20 minutes where we looked very bright and built on our early season form in the Premier League.
Another top notch Gabby Agbonlahor performance on Merseyside gave us the lead in the first half, and from then on the defensive partnership of Philippe Senderos and Nathan Baker really stepped up to the plate to keep the reds out. Similarly to Crystal Palace, it was backs against the wall for Villa, but we held on for the 90 minutes to take all three points to defy the odds and please the travelling faithful.
Stoke City – W 0-1 – Saturday 16th August
Here it is, the best away game of 2014. Maybe it’s a surprise to some, but Villa had seemingly already been written off before a ball was even kicked. There was some hype surrounding a new-look Stoke City team and their fans had expected an easy three points.
Villa had a triplet of players making their débuts for the club: Aly Cissokho, Philippe Senderos and Kieran Richardson, as well as the return from the dead of Alan Hutton. There was even an appearance from young Villan Jack Grealish.
On the day we proved all the doubters wrong, and it felt so good to see those once cocky Stoke faces soon turn sour. The defence was solid, concrete Ron lived up to his billing and partnered Philippe Senderos perfectly. It seemed to suggest that this season, Villa would finally have a bit of steel at the back for the first time under Lambert.
Andi Weimann’s powerful strike capped off the solid performance of the team. The atmosphere was immense, Villa’s best in the land away support, really put on a show against what is normally one of the more noisier group of home fans.
Here’s to 2015
There wasn’t that many good away results to get excited about in 2014, and 2015 looks to be an equally tough road ahead. We need to stay behind the team on the road for this new year and continue our unconditional support, because we are Aston Villa, by far the greatest team the world has ever seen.
Let us know your own top 5 away days in the comments section below. UTV
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