Aston Villa needed a goal from substitute Darren Bent to bring things even at Villa Park as they secured a point in their West Midlands Derby with West Brom. The match was an entertaining - if slightly chippy - affair, despite a lull in the action after the second half began.
The first half was back and forth at the beginning, but by the 30th minute, Aston Villa had taken complete control. At one point around the 42nd minute, Villa had 72% possession in a 10-minute period. Unfortunately, they couldn't make anything of numerous chances and went into the half in a goalless tie. Brett Holman was probably the best player on the pitch in the half. He didn't always get great chances to finish, but he was his usual dynamic self, running everywhere and creating opportunities for Villa while breaking them up before they had the chance to start for WBA. If Paul Lambert uses the 4<4>2 that he did today, it seems like Holman would make a great front midfielder in the diamond.
The second half began as a tepid affair, and a 51st minute goal from Shane Long sucked any atmosphere out of Villa Park. WBA clearly had the upper hand and it looked as if they were content playing for the 1-0 win. Part of the problem was that Villa couldn't keep up the breakneck pace they had set in the first half. Paul Lambert addressed that issue by subbing off Marc Albrighton, Christian Benteke, and Fabian Delph for Charles N'Zogbia, Darren Bent, and Barry Bannan in that order.
All three subs contributed pretty quickly, and Villa began to look threatening again. In the 80th minute they won a corner that was converted by Darren Bent to bring the two teams even. If you didn't see the goal, take a look here. It was a pretty standard Darren Bent poach. So: fantastic. After the goal, Villa brightened up and seemed as if they might have a chance at taking three points but it wasn't to be, and the match ended 1-1.
We'll be along with more in-depth analysis later, but for now enjoy the point. In just over a week Villa have lost 4-1 to the worst team on the table, defeated the defending EPL champs 2-4, and pulled off a draw with the sixth team on the table. What a roller coaster.