Saturday, 16 April 2011

Aston Villa - Villa Park

10th April 2011

Aston Villa 1-0 Newcastle United

It is probably true to say I visited Villa Park eleven years too late – too late to view the wonderful Archibald Leitch designed Trinity Road stand façade, demolished by Doug Ellis in 2000 to make way for the present monstrosity.  An imitation of the façade has recently been tacked on to the back of the Holte End Stand; quietly impressive but without the take-your-breath-away factor of the original. 

Regretfully, this match also lacked any take-your-breath-away factor, due mainly to the fact this was a contest between an extremely edgy Villa side, very much aware they were flirting around the borders of Relegationland, and a Newcastle side still coming to terms with the loss of Andy Carroll’s firepower up front.  That they were also without the suspended Kevin Nolan for this afternoon hardly enhanced their goal prospects.

Nevertheless the first two meaningful opportunities of the day fell to the visitors as first Joey Barton made a real hash of a headed opportunity, then league debutant Nile Ranger failed to unduly trouble Brad Friedel when put through.

In the 24th minute the award of a rather soft free-kick against him for a challenge on Ashley Young had Barton bouncing around in frustration, but worse was to follow as Young, taking the free-kick himself, picked out James COLLINS whose glancing header looped in at the post.  This strike certainly seemed to settle a few home nerves, and Villa enjoyed the best of things for the remainder of the half.  Indeed, they should have been two-up at the break, but Darren Bent saw a perfectly good goal wrongly ruled out for offside.

The second-half was just more of the same really, with Villa dominating possession and Newcastle seemingly content to allow them to do so.  A clutch of substitutions by both sides altered things not a jot, until the closing minutes when the visitors finally decided to try to salvage something from the afternoon.  Peter Lovenkrands was twice foiled by the agility and positioning of home ’keeper Friedel, before Ryan Taylor struck an injury time free-kick just over the bar.

Quite why Newcastle decided to leave it until the dying moments to take a few chances and throw men forward, I have no idea.  I sometimes feel no side should ever lose a match 1-0, as it just smacks of cowardice.  To me, with my simple way of thinking, losing 1-0 is generally no different to losing 2-0. 

So if you are trailing by a goal with 10 minutes to go, throw another player up front….then another……then another, so that by the end you are playing a 1-1-8 formation.  What is the worst that can happen? – you concede on the counter and lose 2-0.  But then, what do I know?  

The Holte End facade - completed as recently as 2007

Villa Park North Stand facade.
Ryan Taylor fails to deliver at the Last Chance Saloon.

The rear of the Trinity Road stand built over the road itself.

Panorama of Villa Park, Birmingham.

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