Villa 2 – 1 Albion; My nerves are shot!

I can honestly say I don’t remember the last time I was so stressed over a game and my stomach was knotted for the majority of it.

In the first half we lacked the self-assuredness we’ve shown for the last couple of months and our play just looked disjointed. When Whelan made a mistake to let Gayle in for a well taken goal, I was seriously worried.
We should give Albion credit here, as they looked very organised, worked incredibly hard and looked threatening on the counter.
I just had the feeling that it wasn’t going to be our day.

I wanted changes for the second half, but Smith decided against at half time and not much changed until Hourihane and Green came on just after the hour mark.
After Grealish had been playing most of the game far too deep to be a threat, he got hold of the ball in their area and setup Hourihane for a good shot and goal. Just as I was thinking about how inneffective he’d been up till then.
That’s what makes him such a good player; he has the ability to create something just when it seems unlikely.

And then Jack won us a penalty just five minutes later when he was clearly tripped by Kieran Gibbs.
There was no mistake from Abraham who had seen very little of the ball before then and he cracked it home for 2-1.

Then, we looked much better and were creating and threatening more, although Albion can feel aggrieved that they didn’t get a penalty after a Tammy Abraham push.
And then Dwight Gayle got sent off after recklessly piling into Jed Steer, which earned him a second yellow and more importantly a one match ban.
He won’t be facing us on Tuesday and that’s a massive blow for them, as he played well and we couldn’t handle him.

Did the pressure get to us today?
It seemed like it to me as that was probably the worst we’ve played in quite a while.
But again we showed our resilience in coming from behind and demonstrated that the game isn’t over till it’s over.

So I called the result correctly and while I’m glad, it certainly wasn’t an easy game to watch.
For the majority of it, I was wondering how we were going to take anything from the 2-legs and going into Tuesday’s game a goal down would have been a serious psychological blow.

Now, with us having the lead and Gayle missing the game, it gives us the advantage and I’m relieved.
It all makes for a very interesting second leg, where Albion will need to come at us, hopefully leaving themselves open.


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  1. Avatar
    Hitchens60 May 11, 2019 at 10:06 pm .

    I think losing Gayle is a bigger blow than us scoring a third goal.

    Under Shan, Baggies set up on a 3-5-2 formation and a key to their success is the partnership and understanding between Gayle and Rodriguez up front. Take out Gayle and they not only lose an exceptional player but also their primary game plan with no Robson Kanu to come in and fill the void. Can they still work with a 3-5-2 or will they have to adopt a formation that they are not comfortable with?

    I’m not suggesting it will be easy but it’s certainly to our advantage that Gayle can’t play in the second leg.

    Today we showed our resilience yet again whilst playing below par. Several players were not at the level we’ve come to expect – in particular I thought McGinn had a very quiet game (not a criticism – just an observation). Will we also be ‘below par’ Tuesday night?

    All to play for.


  2. Avatar
    nath May 12, 2019 at 6:35 am .

    i thought baggies got their tactics spot on. they do play 352, but not yesterday they changed their game to get a draw or sneak the win. which they very nearly did. sitting deep as they did and leaving Gayle upfront to cause villa problems building from the back. it wasnt by accident he scored. he worked hard pressing all the villa back players. he was one of the most affective players on the pitch up to his sending off. i can sympathies with him on the sending off. he had to challenge for the ball. he is a committed player and goal scorer, but sliding in was risky, especially when on a yellow card for blatantly time wasting over the throw ins.

    this tie was always going to be settled 2nd leg and come alive there at hawthorns. baggies will come out and try to win the tie but without gayle its going to be very difficult. we just need to be professional about it. see villa strolling to victory. 3 1 there.

  3. Avatar
    VillaAwayInDiv3 May 13, 2019 at 4:44 pm .

    Gale should had had 2nd yellow earlier for pulling Jack back.

  4. Avatar
    Hitchens60 May 13, 2019 at 9:51 pm .

    Apparently the Baggies complained that Grealish dived for the penalty and it was referred to an independent FA panel that determined simulation did not take place. They must be desperate – trying to get Grealish banned.

  5. Avatar
    Bill Pearson May 14, 2019 at 3:53 pm .

    Let’s remind them.

    One of my indelible sporting memories is not a sight but a sound. I’m watching Aston Villa play West Bromwich Albion one grey day in 1977. The derby is always intense, but today there seems a kind of malevolence to the match, and to the crowd; you would n ot want to be out there. In the Villa midfield is a slight fi gure called Alex Cropley, a Scot who is in the form of his life. The previous season he had inspired Villa to a 5-1 win over Liverpool, the champions , and this afternoon he is making the Albion side – the team of John Wile and Len Cantello, one of the most uncompromising ever to take to a football field – look like park players.

    There is nothing of Cropley, he is in that mould of footballer that is quick and wiry, playing in spaces, seeing gaps, but he is fearless, too, never stepping back from a challenge. The Villa fans have a favourite song, through which, in the company of my dad, I tend to mumble, though I appreciate the sentiment: ‘ Five-foot eight, not much weight, Alex Cropley’s fucking great, la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la.’

    In my memory, I’m half-humming this and straining to see the pitch when a ball falls from the sky exactly between Cropley and an Albion player named Ally Brown , both running at full pace from opposite directions about 10 yards apart; an instant later Cropley meets the ball and Brown meets Cropley with all the force at his will, a force that seems to have built up steadily with each challenge in the match , and is looking for a way to escape. It is then I hear the sound, an other-worldly noise, easily loud enough to silence 35,000 people in a state of high excitement, like the gunshot that starts a race. This is not a start, though; it’s an ending of sorts. It is the sound of Alex Cropley’s breaking leg, a sharp crack that snaps tibia and fibula and leaves the lower portion of his shin skewed at a vicious angle to the upper part.

    I can still hear it now, that crack that seemed to echo in an absolute chill quiet . I don’t remember any of the goals of that game, or of that season, but I’ll never forget that sound; it was the first moment in my life as a spectator, I suppose, when sport suddenly seemed like mortality. Major injuries always announce themselves immediately; teammates know the worst has happened, so do fans, so does the player. The suspension of disbelief that surrounds the match is punctured, the injury allows a different, messier register of understanding back into a stadium. What has seemed play, suddenly is real; where all before was speed and recklessness, now all is care and slowness.

    1. Avatar
      Hitchens60 May 14, 2019 at 5:57 pm .

      Bill – wonderful post so well articulated. If I remember correctly it finished Cropley’s career in that he was never the same player again.

      I worry that with an aggressive crowd and all the shenanigans over the penalty at Villa Park the Albion will mark Grealish literally and he could get badly injured. I hope I’m wrong.

  6. Avatar
    Bill Pearson May 14, 2019 at 6:05 pm .

    My worry Hitch, the Albion have been our worse arch rivals over the years, I just hope no bad feelings in to nights game, I know we have the city games in them years but it’s like tonight’s game that worries me..

  7. Avatar
    Gerry Kiddy May 14, 2019 at 6:29 pm .

    Very descriptive and I think the Guardian thought it so as well. Not exactly cheering but here’s a thought, 1977 and Villa won both games scoring 7 and conceding none. Makes me more than hopeful.

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