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It must be! The story of Villa’s greatest goals: Dalian Atkinson vs Wimbledon

Dalian Atkinson scored a belter for Villa years and years ago

The Birmingham Mail

Welcome to It Must Be! This is going to be a new column where I get to test out my writing chops by describing Villa’s best ever goals.

You see, goals are rare. We know that as Villa fans, but they really are at a premium. Each goal is a moment of such monolithic importance to a football match, but it goes beyond that - goals save teams from relegation, they pay respect to the departed and they also award untold riches to clubs.

There are stories behind every goal.

On a sage pitch, decked out in a different shade of the iconic claret and blue strip, Dalian skips past a mistimed sliding tackle. His forward momentum from this slight stumble sends him galloping from within his own half to slightly beyond the centre circle. Another slide tackle from a Wimbledon man comes in, but a dash of pace from Atkinson sends the ball beyond the midfielder’s reach. The crowd roars. Dalian is thrown slightly off course by his own inertia and as another midfielder moves in to muscle Atkinson off the ball - Dalian’s gravity pulls him past the nudge as though the player attempting to tackle didn’t exist at all.

Realising their mistake as Atkinson charges towards the box, the final three Wimbledon players yet to be embarrassed attempt to stand off and contain the rampaging Villan.

This is the final error. Do they press? Do they tackle? Either way - it was all over for them. There was no right answer in that circumstance for the Wimbledon defence.

Taking the defenders lack of aggression as an opening, Dalian lines up a shot from just outside the 18-yard box and in what seems a split-second, he pulls off a pseudo-chip shot from an absurd position. It’s perfectly weighted and it flies past the flailing goalkeeper into the net. Momentum, buoyed by the screaming crowd had driven Dalian from box-to-box with an audacious goal to cap it all off.

What happened after would be slightly more absurd than Dalian’s galloping stride and thunderous goal. Dalian stands before the crazed away support and limply holds his arms up as if to ask the Villa fans “Well, what did you expect?”

As Dalian and his fellow Villan Saunders celebrated the moment, a gentleman leapt forward from Villa’s travelling fanbase to cover Atkinson and Saunders with an umbrella - to shield the jubilant duo from the south-west London rains.

You couldn’t make it up, could you?