After a fairly bumpy start to the season, with the signing of players being the main focus for the club during the summer months, it’s now time for Villa to start picking up some wins in order to propel our season.
Our first opportunity for three points came against two-time European Cup winners Nottingham Forest, who provide a mould for what fallen giants can become. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the ideal game to critically assess what Roberto Di Matteo and co. had spent money on in the latter days of the transfer window, as there was some notable absentees, but at least Jonathan Kodjia and Ritchie De Laet started.
Prematch Fan Thoughts
With injuries to Albert Adomah and Aaron Tshibola, and with Mile Jedinak not a 100% after his international commitments, Villa were left with a questionably lightweight midfield in Ashley Westwood and Gary Gardner.
Jonathan Kodjia was given a start on his home debut and had a weight of expectation that a £11million price tag (plus add-ons) can push down on you.
The window was shut and it was now time for the players to deliver on the pitch, starting with three points on sunny Sunday afternoon in a game that saw two former European Champions play against other in a lower league for the first time.
The first half wasn’t exactly the most entertaining to watch but in terms of going forward, Villa were creating a lot more than Forest. The closest we came to a goal in the first half was a Ross McCormack goal-mouth effort that hit the post and Jonathan Kodjia’s mammoth leap and powerful header that forced a fantastic save out of Vladimir Stojković, Forest’s six-foot-five Serbian Goalkeeper who had a brilliant game and stopped us from scoring on many occasions.
The second-half saw a forced change as Pierluigi Gollini was replaced by Mark Bunn due to a nasty knock to the throat after a collision when he bravely put his body on the line to quash the ball in his own box. The game stepped up a bit and Forest capitalised on our failure to take chances with a brilliant strike from 20-yards out that moved in the air and left Mark Bunn helpless.
Shortly after the goal, the Villa Park faithful became agitated and demanded a change from the bench. Di Matteo complied and made a crucial switch which turned the game for us.
A dice was thrown and Rudy Gestede replaced Gary Gardner, who had a fairly poor game overall. The change was just the spark we needed and we were able to equalise and then take the lead in a breath-taking two minutes.
McCormack and Gestede grabbed the crucial goals that turned the game on its head. However, in the end, Villa fell to another late goal due to some poor defending that allowed their attacker to waltz through our midfield.
The unusual 1.15pm kick-off time meant it took about 10 minutes for the ground to really fill out a bit more, but when it did the Holte End was packed to the rafters and that’s almost becoming a trend of our home games so far.
The atmosphere was fairly poor in the first half and that sort of corresponded with the football played as we carved out a few chances but failed to put any away. There were a few songs in the first half but the atmosphere from the home fans certainly stepped up a lot more in the second forty-five.
The second goal caused the lower north to go nuts, with another flare being set off and a long list of songs being belted out. 30,000 fans attended the game and it was certainly one of those days where the performance determined the noise levels of many fans, but it was still a decent atmosphere at times.
Post-Match Fan Thoughts
It was certainly a bitter pill to swallow after we created so much and despite them taking the initial lead, I felt like we were certainly more deserving of the three points.
We’re in a situation where we need to start picking up wins and gathering some momentum. The fastest way to climb this league is to win four or five on the bounce, Newcastle have shown that after they lost their first two. However, despite the lack of a win, this game had a lot of positives to take away from it.
We showed that our attack is one of the most dangerous in the league and if we can find that balance in midfield, I’m sure our side will click into action.
A partnership of Aaron Tshibola and Mile Jedinak would be perfect in my opinion, so we’ll just have to see if that transpires and if Tshibola can stay fit. It’s another home game next, this Wednesday against Brentford, another tough task after they beat Brighton. Again, the three points are vital, as one win in seven, will not sound good at all.
Away Fans Score – 8.5/10
Brilliant support. The Forest fans were loud all through the first half, they set off a flare after their first goal and overall they did themselves proud. Despite wanting to shove a 2-1 win down their throats after they goaded us all game, I still have to give them credit for being a good set of fans. It would be good to see them in the Premier League again, although as long as we’re also in it!
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