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Derby County vs. Aston Villa final score: Yet another encouraging performance

Derby County v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship Play Off: First Leg Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Let’s focus on the upside here: through four Championship matches, Aston Villa have a 1-2-1 record with a positive goal differential. They’ve already got 29% of the point total of last year’s team, and they have yet to be totally outclassed in any of the four league matches thus far. This team is, without question, better prepared than last year’s squad. And any fears that might have existed about relegation after the Luton Town debacle should be gone.

But boy oh boy do Aston Villa like to waste opportunities. This was a match that was literally a matter of a few inches away from being a 0-3 victory for the visitors. Derby County had no answer for Villa in the first half, and Ross McCormack and Gary Gardner both rattled thunderous shots off of the woodwork.

The one thing that wasn’t great in the first 45 was Rudy Gestede coming off injured and being replaced with Libor Kozak. The Czech striker is a player that I personally love, but it was immediately clear that he was going to be offering nothing today. His pace wasn’t there and he looked tired within ten minutes.

Our own Adam Clark jumped onto Facebook Live to break down the tactics that we saw employed in the first half:

Half-time analysis

7500 to Holte: A Blog For Aston Villa Fans 貼上了 2016年8月20日

The second half saw Derby come out totally in control. Villa were pinned back, but eventually fought back and what emerged was a long stretch that was, largely, a boring midfield battle. At one point Tommy Elphick nearly scored the winning goal, but Will Hughes cleared it off of the line while standing in the goal. Two woodwork shots and one goal-line clearance. It’s tough to be that close with so little to show for it.

Kozak continued to do nothing, and Ayew provided plenty in defensive support and nothing in the way of doing anything on attack. There’s not much else to say, as the teams limped their way to a boring 0-0 draw.

It’s hardly concerning. Getting a draw away from home against a promotion competitor is a good result. And the 1-2-1 start in which Villa have never really been outclassed is very encouraging. There are issues to be worried about (Ayew’s lack of presence in attack, yellow card madness, a worrying ability to not string together 90 straight minutes of good football), but they don’t outweigh the overwhelming evidence that this team is better. Things are on the upswing, and thank heavens for that.