Pete Sutton is our next writer in the From the Stands series. His report of the 3-2 win over Everton comes from the K5 block of the mighty Holte End.
The Sherwood effect might have Villa fans looking forward to a second trip to Wembley in six weeks, but it has only delivered four points from our past five Premier League matches, which is less than Hull, Leicester and QPR in that spell, and equal to Sunderland, who have a game in hand on us. Everton had not been beaten by us for eight games, so the garden was not as rosy as some believed as the weekend approached.
It's 1.00pm and we're about to set off for VP and should be there in time to watch the last half-hour of the Leicester v Newcastle game in the concourse below the Holte before the match.
For the first home game since the excellent victories at Tottenham and Wembley, and the fine performance at Man City, there will understandably be a mixture of euphoria and apprehension on the Holte before the game.
We all know that even fine form is no guarantee, over such a short run of games as the final four, that results will automatically reflect that form. A couple of poor refereeing decisions such as the Benteke offside at City, or the one in a hundred volley from the opposing forward that hits the net, can turn triumph into disaster.
Allied to this was knowledge of late-season surges from Hull and Leicester which left Villa as 6/1 third favourites for the last relegation position behind Sunderland at 9/25 and Leicester at 7/2. Thank the gods that bookies are generally pretty shrewd.
It's 2.40pm. Leicester 3 Newcastle 0. Newcastle self-destructing with two sent off. Would have preferred a draw but if we win we stay above Leicester and go above Newcastle. Glad to see Given in. Villa to win and Grealish to get his first senior goal! So at the start of the game there were plenty of us with our smartphones monitoring the scores elsewhere as well urging our players on.
5.00pm and we've won 3-2. This was never a best-of-five game and Everton would have been lucky to get one. After the game, ex-Villa 'keeper legend Nigel Spink on local radio said that he thought Given was fouled for the second Everton goal. TV replays this evening will show whether he was right but this was overall an immense performance from Villa full of vibrant football.
The midfield three ran the game and any one of them could have had the man-of-the-match award, but Cleverley gets my vote. His performance was outstanding and, perhaps for the first time since he has worn a Villa shirt, it was possible to see why he had won caps for England as a Man Ure player. His goal was the glorious culmination of a move which scythed through the Everton defence and if we don't sign him permanently at the end of the season it will betray a lack of ambition that will be answerable only by Randy Lerner. Grealish and N'Zogbia tormented the Everton defence throughout and Benteke was his usual beastly self and was thoroughly unplayable.
There have been many great headers of the ball over the years at Villa but he is the equal of them all and has real skill on the ground and the ability to bring other players into the game with his perfectIy-weighted and directed passes. I pray that in twelve months time I will be saying the same thing because we will have done whatever it takes to keep him.
At the end of the game the fans in the Holte were singing 'We've got our Villa back'. To Sherwood's credit that is exactly what has happened and it's now difficult to see any way that we won't be safe, given the fixtures remaining both for us and the other teams at the bottom of the division.
So what would the Arsenal scout who was inevitably here be reporting back to Arsene Whinger ahead of the FA Cup final? That Villa will be a real problem to contain when they go forward but they have defensive weaknesses. The central defenders are slow on the turn and Bacuna is not a full-back. He lacks positional sense which is only partly offset by his offensive skills. Hutton came on in his place for the last ten minutes and understands both defending and how to find Benteke with searching crosses.
Oh, and a final thought. Back in June 2011 Everton manager Roberto Martinez, as manager of nonentities Wigan and aided and abetted by barmy chairman Dave Whelan, had the temerity to turn down an approach from the mighty Villa to become our manager. McLeish ensued and the rot that was continued by Lambert set in.
So it was particularly pleasant to see Martinez's nose rubbed in it today and hope that, in Sherwood, we have finally found the charismatic manager to lead us on to glory.
Thanks for the report, Pete! I hadn't thought about the Martinez snub in a while, but it's nice to see him bear the brunt of Villa's seeming turnaround!