St Andrews Stalemate
The 1-1 draw at St Andrews wasn’t exactly the result Villans wanted or needed, but after the Blues scored their equaliser they certainly finished the stronger and had more urgency in seeking the winner.
While Bruce did at least try to go for it in terms of his substitutions, by bringing on Rudy Gestede after Gabby Agbonlahor made an unexpected appearance as a 81st minute sub, Villa never got into any real rhythm going forward.
Blues to their credit are a hard-working and spirited top-half team, so in isolation, a point isn’t a bad result.
Still, there’s much to be done, but in the meantime, here’s five reasons to be cheerful as Villa fans…
First for the Club
It’s been a long time coming, but Gary Gardner finally bagged his first senior goal for Villa. After the game he said, as a Villa fan he was just chuffed to be playing in such a game, nevermind score in it.
For your first goal as a Villa fan to be against the Blues will be a special moment for him and no doubt make up for his injury struggles over the years.
It was a peach of a header too. Gardner probably needs another handful of games to really get up to speed in the team. It would be interesting to see him in the middle with a fully fit Tshibola and Jedinak. Surely, that’s potentially Villa’s best midfield formation, if Gardner continues to step up?
Hopefully, the goal will give him a bit more confidence to express himself too, as he does have a decent shot and should be getting more attempts off in games.
Return of the Jedi
Mile Jedinak had his best game in a Villa shirt and probably without him shielding the back four, Villa would have lost the game. His performance was a lot more of what we were expecting from the ex-Palace midfielder, who has seemed so off the pace in previous matches that he still seemed jet-lagged from his Australian international duty.
If Villa are to have any chance of climbing the table in earnest, then Jedinak needs to consistently turn up for Villa.
Hopefully, there’s a bit more to come from him and he’ll go up a few more gears to influence the middle of the park more for Villa.
While most of Villa’s backline had decent enough games, captain James Chester perhaps was the pick of the bunch. If anything, his partnership with Nathan Baker has seen the best of him in a Villa shirt, so far. He’s also taken the captain mantle well, taking the armband, when there’s a few contenders in the team for it, like Jedinak.
Chester was very much at the heart of Hull City’s promotion under Bruce, so hopefully he can strive or a second one.
Scenes and Limbs
Credit to Gardner for running the length of the pitch straight to the visiting Villa fans to kick-start scenes of jubilation. He went to the fans first, before any of his teammates. Such celebrations have been few and far between; where Villa players have really focused on the supporters.
With all the police restrictions in place and the hostility of the home fans, that Villa fans had to endure, it’s good to see the players acknowledging the supporters in their celebration and giving them a real highlight to the day and a fitting celebration to mark the occasion.
These small things do count and are what you pay your money for. It’s just a shame there wasn’t one or two more celebrations in the match!
Credit where it’s due, Bruce’s unbeaten run continues. Two wins and two draws is a decent enough platform to start off with, but hopefully it’s time to start chalking up more wins. We’re playing catch-up, so it’s getting urgent.
If anything, Villa are more solid now and able to soak up pressure a lot easier. My only concern is surely we should be dominating games and be on the front foot more?
Hopefully that will come soon, as he has more time with the team.
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