Ultimately, Aston Villa’s limp start to the year 2019 has probably cost them a chance of making the play-offs, but the last eight minutes against Sheffield United will live long in the memory.
Villa supporters had already seen a couple of comebacks for draws last month at Villa Park. Villa came back from 2-1 against QPR and 2-0 against Hull, but against the Blades, coming back from 3-0 down with just eight minutes to go, was on another level.
The finish to the game perhaps made up for the poor performance over 82 minutes that had proceeded it. Still, with one glance a the league table, it doesn’t take long for the late thrills to wear off.
After a run of one win in 11 games, Villa in 10th place are drifting away to mid-table obscurity.
Still, here’s five reasons to be cheerful as Villa fans…
1. Class Comeback
In isolation, it was an epic finish to a game that Villa had until the 82nd minute had deserved nothing from. Coming back from 3-0 now with eight minutes to go is not the kind of stuff that happens regularly in football.
Villa’s play-off hopes maybe fading fast, but if you want to clutch at a straw, the late drama at Villa Park could potentially spark a revival in fortunes.
With Jack Grealish waiting in the wings, surely this team can launch the kind of winning run that the likes of Bristol City and Hull City have mustered in this division?
They’ll have to, as Villa are very much in the last chance saloon.
2. Final Rewards
While thousands had already left the stadium at the 82 minute mark, those Villans that had suffered and were still sticking around, were well rewarded in the final few minutes.
You don’t get to see many games in your lifetime turned around from 3-0 with just eight minutes to go.
Fair play for sticking around.
3. 20’s Plenty
Tammy Abraham notched his 20 league goal of the season, which is the first time a Villa player has hit such a mark since Peter Withe scored 20 when Villa won the League in 1980/1.
Withe’s achievement was in the top tier though, so it would be foolish to compare the two goal-scoring feats directly.
The astonishing thing is that despite Abraham scoring 20 league goals, it’s only led to 10 wins for the team. It just goes to show how poor the defence has been.
Unfortunately, despite his personal achievement, Abraham’s goals won’t count for much unless he scores a bunch more of them to help Villa gain some wins to launch a last ditch play-off challenge.
4. Mings the Merciless
Despite reservations of Tyrone Mings perhaps needing games to get him into the swing of things, the loanee has hit the ground running and certainly seems to upgrade the Villa defensive backline.
While a clean sheet was secured away to Reading, they are one of the lowest scoring teams in the division, so there is some context to be had there.
Still, Mings’ left foot has instantly brought more balance to the backline and the decent distribution from it has been evident too. At six foot five, he’s also added an increased threat to Villa’s set pieces, as nabbing the first comeback goal against Sheffield United proved.
Like Abraham’s goals though, Mings loan period performances will ultimately only benefit Villa, if they make the play-offs. If he really impresses and Villa remain in the division, he may seek a move from Bournemouth to another Premier League team come next summer, at a price that Villa won’t be able to match.
5. Mr Impact
After a wayward cross or two after he came on, it was good to see Andre Green head home John McGinn‘s cross for the equaliser. Green has shown in both pre-season and on loan to Pompey this season, that he knows where the back of the net is.
If he develops the rest of this game, then he may have a big part to play for Villa next season.
Expect Smith to blood him more as a starter, if Villa drop further off the play-off places.
PS – National Council
At the end of last year MOMS was nominated onto the National Council of The Unified Football Supporters Organisation, the newly formed and largest UK football fan body that sees the combining of the Football Supporters’ Federation and Supporters Direct.
This Sunday was the first meeting of the National Council in London. Discussions on diversity, governance reform (the qualification for club ownership), Brexit’s impact on football (deal or no deal) and an array of issues at Premier League, Championship, Lower League and Non-league level.
MOMS is looking forward to serving on the council for the next couple of years.
At least now, Aston Villa fans have a voice on a national level in supporter issues.