The Build Up:
Aston Villa faced West Bromwich Albion twice this week with both matches holding high stakes, so it's probably expected for the teams to 'split the series' with so much pressure weighted on their shoulders. Villa had already secured the Premier League points with a win earlier in the week over the Baggies, so getting past them again today and booking a trip to London for the FA Cup semi final wouldn't be a bad bonus on top of increasing chances of Premier League survival.
Tim Sherwood managed to prove everyone right with their 'loveable nutter' descriptions of the former Tottenham manager in a series of interviews earlier in the week. Many Tottenham fans were pretty harsh in their opinions regarding Sherwood's tactical decisions, but this may be a scathing view of simplicity. I mean, we could all write off Paul Lambert for bastardising 'tiki-taka', but that doesn't mean his possession football can't work! Tim's simplicity was needed, one way or the other. Sometimes football is less about the x's and o's and more about getting stuck in and giving it your all.
A largely boring first-half was kept alive by the presence of Saido Berahino, who looks to be a real talent for Albion. Berahino seemed to be on the end of every pass and move for the Baggies and the fact WBA remained scoreless for so long gives a tinsy bit of credit to Villa's makeshift back four. West Brom actually dominated the first half and likely only stayed Villa's equal because of Brown Ideye's horrific miss from point blank range and a little bit of Shay Given's usual heroics.
Villa actually woke up after the break and both wings provided a bit of danger, which simply wasn't there in the first-half and then it happened. Villa scored with a sniper shot from Fabian Delph who picked his corner of the net and pushed it past Boaz Myhill before kissing his badge in front of the Holte End. The match went back to being dour as both teams got a bit stuck in the midfield area and couldn't unlock the other side. Shay Given came to Villa's rescue shortly after Delph's goal, but West Brom seemed to have their edge dulled by Clark and Okore. Aston Villa managed to rescue the game from life support with dual chances from Scott Sinclair, who put both shots wide. Hey, a chance is a chance! Aston Villa managed to grab another scoring opportunity, but luck saved the Baggies from Westwood's shot. AVFC kept their foot on the pedal and hit the bar with a rebound from Scott Sinclair, who could and should have took a hat-trick from this match.
A solid refereeing performance was dampened when WBA's Yacob was sent off on the 80th minute for a 'challenge' on Leandro Bacuna, who had been hurt by his own rash challenge. At the end of the day, we've been on the end of horrible decisions all season long, so may luck finally fall on our side. Actually, scratch that. Jack Grealish was pointlessly sent off in stoppage time for avoiding a tackle.
Sinclair finally got his goal with a curling finish, fair play in my eyes because the lad should have had four goals. 2 goals, 2 wins and 4 pitch invasions for Aston Villa as the 'Tactics Tim' revolution continues. The moment was crowned by a massive pitch invasion as Aston Villa made one step closer to silverware.
Villa have surprised me this week and in more ways than I would have thought. I feel as though keeping N'Zogbia (who was exceedingly dangerous in this game, having improved on Tuesday's decent performance) and Tom Cleverley (who has decided to do some kind of Easter resurrection within himself, where have we heard that before..) may be crucial for the future, if we can stay up. Villa have now won two games in a row, which may sound like a small soundbite for the top tier teams, but it's absolutely massive for Villa.
To finish, I'm a bit upset with how the announcers and commentators decided to frame the multiple pitch invasions. It's almost as if they do not understand how the sport works. There has been around £200 spent for me to attend Aston Villa matches and I didn't see a goal at all. Now imagine being a season ticket, spending a MASSIVE portion of your wages in the summer to go to all of the matches. If you're a loaded Mark Lawrenson or Jonathan Pearce, you won't be able to relate to that feeling and maybe you should direct your anger at the Football Association, who decided to schedule a local derby at a time when people can drink all day. Actually, if you are Jonathan Pearce or Mark Lawrenson, you won't say a damned thing except further condemn the people that have been there, through thick and thin.
We are all allowed moments of stupidity. Football is about passion and there's nothing better about coming back from the brink against your local rivals.