For 60 minutes, we all listened to Aston Villa play Barnsley in a match that made us wonder why we had passed up opportunities to watch paint dry. “No thanks,” we all had said, “I think I’ll do something more interesting.” Sometime around the 57th minute, we all began to think “I wonder how that ochre is drying. Does it look good on the wall? What about the indigo?” It was a dire match and there was nothing to recommend it.
And then, just as I found myself wondering if matte or glossy black was better, Jordan Ayew reached out a hand and said “come with me, I will save you.” And he did. In the 61st minute he corralled a ball that Barnsley’s keeper had parried away from a Jonathan Kodjia shot. He stood for a second, assured the ball that everything would be okay, and then baffled a Barnsley defender to gently put the ball into the cradle of nylon netting.
Just like that, the match became bearable. Villa had a lead, we all knew things would be terrifying, but it was as if someone had turned the switch to “on” and started the whole apparatus. “Oh yeah, meant to do that an hour ago!” It became open, end to end. Villa attacked and took chances, and got nothing to show.
And there was still the matter of the 85th minute. The point at which Villa love to begin their capitulation. The 85th passed. Then the 86th. And the 87th and 88th. But it was all for naught, as the 89th minute saw Sam Winnall put one past Pierluigi Gollini and, my god you won’t believe this, Villa turned a win into a draw.
Same story, different day. It would have been better if we’d just wasted all 90 minutes instead of giving us 28 minutes of false hope. But such is the Villa.