Nobody got injured. Callum Robinson had a lively first half. Brad Guzan pulled off some spectacular saves and Jack Grealish looked a cut above anyone on the pitch.
Frankly, that's the good news from Villa's 3-1 defeat away to Chesterfield, a match that saw Villa leave most of their first team at home.
The First Half
Villa served up an abomination for the first 45 minutes. A defence full of holes, a lazy midfield that didn't look remotely interested in keeping the ball and an isolated striker. They should be thankful to be 2-0 down at the break, because it should have been more. Reminiscent of the Villa first team of recent years playing Spurs, Chesterfield passed us off the park.
Within the first 5 minutes Bennett and Herd had both tried their very best to gift the opposition strikers a goal, needlessly giving it away in a dangerous area. Chesterfield took the lead with defenders all over the place after 6 minutes. Gardner fired wide from a free kick and Robinson wriggled through the defence before a weak finish. Burke hit the bar from 20 yards after Villa's only noteworthy move of the half, before Chesterfield turned the screw again forcing Guzan to save magnificently twice. But Villa's problems defending corners against lower league opposition (that's an actual thing these days...ahh Bradford memories) came back with a bang, as they scored a second goal unmarked at the far post.
The Second Half
Lowton Herd Bennett Tonev Gardner and Burke were all replaced at half time. I can only assume Roy Keane ate them. On came the 6 outfield subs available, Bacuna Okore Stevens El Ahmadi N'Zogbia and Grealish. It made an immediate difference, as Chesterfield could get nowhere near Villa's new attacking threat. The Villa goal came from nice interplay in midfield by El Ahmadi and Carruthers, releasing N'Zogbia into gigantic amounts of space on the right. His calm cross found Grealish in the middle of the box, who made no mistake. N'Zogbia Grealish and Robinson combined well for the following 15 minutes. In fact Grealish played exactly the type of game that has sparked the hype. Incredibly composed on the ball, the opposition couldn't lay a finger on him as he popped up all over the place making things happen. After the hour mark the game regressed into a frustrating, bitty affair. Villa started to take liberties as Okore flew in two footed (a definite red in the league) and Bacuna pushed the ref in argument (a definite red in the league). N'Zogbia cut inside again on 70 minutes to fire just over. Donacien showed pace and decent anticipation as Chesterfield sought to get in behind. The game was up when Guzan uncharacteristically passed the ball straight to the opposition forward, who promptly slotted it into the corner for 3-1. Perhaps he was jetlagged.
Overall, not Villa's finest hour. Obviously it doesn't have to be, but there are plenty of players that need to take a look at themselves and think "am I really doing enough to give the manager a headache?". Matt Lowton, for example, looks on course to be Villa's 3rd choice right back with Hutton and Bacuna comfortably outperforming him. Herd, Bennett, Gardner, Johnson, Tonev all extremely poor on the night. But once again, Robinson and Grealish staked a claim to be involved when it all kicks off against Stoke.
Scorers: Darikwa (6), Hird (43), Grealish (51), Morsy (84).
Villa man of the match: Grealish. Sorry for the excessive hype.
Team performance: 2/10.
Match rating: 4/10.
Embarrassment factor: 7/10
Forgotten about by: Friday.