In the first half, Aston Villa did not do what they usually do. With Sam Johnstone in goal (sigh) and Alan Hutton at right back (bigger sigh) there wasn’t much you could realistically expect from this group. The good news (note: sarcasm) was that, in a side that should really be working hard to give disgruntled home fans something worth cheering for, Jordan Amavi and Jack Grealish were left on the bench. Listen, neither have been that good this year, but at least they’re a sort of entertaining bad, y’know?
But then the plot twist happened and in the 25th minute Villa managed to nab a lead. Henri Lansbury took a corner (a good one! He takes good set pieces) that managed to find James Chester a yard or so in front of goal. Chester awkwardly controlled the ball with his chest before awkwardly heading it in for a goal. It wasn’t pretty at all, but the good news is that the FA still haven’t gotten around to implementing “stylish goal” reform.
After that, Derby County did just about what you’d expect and turned on the attack. Villa looked all out of sorts, but luckily the Derby attack was reliant on Darren Bent doing well at Villa Park. At one point Bent had an appeal for a penalty after a Nathan Baker tackle. To me it looked clean, but to a legion of folks on twitter, Villa got lucky when the appeal was denied. I’m okay with lucky!
The second half was ugly, like, really ugly. Villa were content to sit back on the lead, and though they did well for the most part, the final quarter of an hour was not pretty viewing. Andre Green, who hit the post with a diving header, along with Jonathan Kodjia and Albert Adomah were subbed off in a clear defensive push, and it worked. The result was marred somewhat by a red card for Leandro Bacuna, who went head to head with the linesman, after disagreeing with a decision (Bacuna was technically correct as well). Luckily, Derby had no time to make use of their man advantage, and Villa walk away with their first win of the year.