Villa fans unstuck by the Toffees on their travels
By Charles Cox
Making the long-distance trek from London to Merseyside for another frantic Aston Villa away days experience, it seemed many had made the same decision to make a return journey to Liverpool after a fabulous away day at Anfield, the fortnight before. Dozens of Aston Villa away supporters joined the train as we made our way to the North West of the country. The arrival into Lime Street, however, didn’t present the warmest of welcomes, as hundreds of Everton supporters concluded their journey from the same train. Awkward.
The initial intention to have relaxed pre-match wander through Stanley Park, to admire a few sites of Liverpool, turned out to be in vein. As per normal on away trips, the best laid intentions for a bit of tourism, soon go out of the window when you know there’s only one real focus. Greeted by choruses of Villains making their voices heard at the gates of Goodison Park, the day was always destined to be a good one, whatever the result turned out to be.
Sat in Row E, Seat 53 of the Bullens, the old school wooden seats were like a portal into the past of football. An upgrade on cheap plastic ones, they seemed from a time when money wasn’t an issue, or so it would seem.
Come kick off, it appeared that the away section was obviously over-sold. With around a hundred fans standing in the aisles of the Bullens. Two people per seat became a familiar feature for the game, but it still didn’t stop the deafening chants of “Villa, Villa, Villa” echoing around Goodison.
After the back of that brilliant derby victory over the Baggies in midweek, the Villan supporters were always going to be in fine voice. The sheer velocity and volume of the support swiftly silenced the home crowd. However, we were almost silenced ourselves, after just four minutes, as Everton rattled the outside of Brad Guzan’s far post. It was an early warning sign and a cue for dominant Everton possession.
A breakthrough seemed soon to be on the cards, and it came shortly after the half-hour mark, but it was villa that struck! It was the first shot of the game for Villa. The sublime counter-attack had started from a supposed “foul” but actual brilliantly timed tackle from Player of the Season so far, Fabian Delph, then Bacuna latched on to the loose ball and played an equally impressive one-two with the tank of Benteke, before cooly slotting past the newly-shaved, Tim Howard.
Cue jubilant scenes in the small, but loud away section of the ground. Seats were leap-frogged and pile-ups of ecstatic Villans could only mean one thing, Villa were in the lead again on Merseyside.
As the half-time whistle sounded, another potential scalp on the River Mersey was on the cards and Villans were once again dreaming of another three points on the road. While Everton provided some half-time musical entertainment on the pitch, the Villa fans were creating their own entertainment.
A clumsy Evertonian had dropped their winter hat into the Villa section. For five minutes, attempts were made to reunite the fan with their hat. ‘Ole’s’ were heard for much of time. But this wasn’t to be the only garment to become trapped over the course of the 15 minute break. During the ecstatic celebrations for the goal, another hat became caught on a hook above the Villa faithful, but luckily, this hat heartbreak was short-lived, as a steward was on hand with a long stick. Half-time hat trauma number two, diverted.
Parodies of Liverpool’s famous “You’ll Never Walk Alone” anthem were heard through-out the entire match. You know the one: “Sign ON! Sign ON! With a pen, in your hand! And you’ll never work, again! You’ll nevvver work, again!” Fair to say, as per usual, the chant didn’t go down so well with the Everton crowd.
As the game restarted, Villa had the Merseyside deja vu of attempting to hold on to a one goal lead in the second half, but it was always going to be difficult.
Corner after corner flew in for Everton, but the Villa defence held strong. Villa seemed to be in control of the situation, despite not seeing much of the ball, until Everton, made a decisive substitution. Naismith on for Stones. This was the game decider right there. Within minutes of the change, the Villa defence was broken. Guess who scored? Who else, but Martinez’s super sub, Stephen Naismith. We were no longer holding out for three points; we were clutching on to our unbeaten away record in 2014.
An unwanted injury came Villa’s way, as Vlaar was replaced just ten minutes from the end, clutching his hamstring. The heart of the defence was gone. We needed to stand strong. The Villa faithful feared the worse. It took just five minutes for that fear to become reality. Clark made an clumsy challenge, and Mirallas claimed a brilliant, dipping and curling free-kick to seal the three points for the Everton.
While the away end was distraught, it was only then we noticed that the Evertonians had started to make themselves heard, with what was pretty much their first chant for 85 minutes. Appalling support. The travelling lions soon made a statement to the Everton fans with the repetition of “YOUR THE WORST SUPPORT, WE’VE EVER SEEN!” over and over.
The whistle blew. The game was over. Villa had lost the match. Gut-wrenching after the half-time score promise, but the travelling Villans stayed in the same voice as they had all game – loud, proud and high in spirits (and alcohol!). Heads never dropped in the Villa camp.
A badly timed injury to Vlaar and a superb freekick had ultimately cost us, but at least teams always know they’re in for a game when Villa come to town. Everton have only lost one game at Goodison this season, so there was no shame in the result. Anyway, we’ll win away again soon enough. UTV!
(Main photo: Kevin Joynes)
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