Tuesday, 9 November 2010
Snapping at your heels - FUL 1-1 AVL
A rip roaring, end to end first 15 minutes descended into sloppy passages of play from both sides, with the odd half chance rewarding any coherent moves. Then Villa stepped up the game a little on 40 minutes and a moment after Schwarzer saved well from Delfonso cutting in from the left - Albrighton did the same from a sumptuous long pass that caught Salcido completely out of position and the young winger put Villa ahead.
Then after the break, with a tidy lead in their back pockets, the Villa midfield went into overdrive, snapping the heels of Fulham players whenever they were in possession and only allowing Hughes to pass it out or Schwarzer to boot the ball upfield in the vague direction of Zoltan Gera's head.
The youthful and impressive Villa midfield didn't look like tiring and most of the long balls were just bouncing off Richard Dunne's bonce, so Hughes tried something different by bringing AJ on. Unfortunately the long balls continued. In fairness, Johnson did fashion a couple of chances but fluffed the best one by failing to bring the ball under control when trying to go around Friedel.
During this non-dangerous pressure period, Villa were playing on the attack and had Agbonlahor been playing he would have been filling his boots in the disagreeable way he did during this fixture last season. But Ashley Young proved slightly less deadly and kept Fulham in it.
I barely celebrated the equaliser when it came. It was just so ridiculous a thing to happen. It certainly didn't look like it was going to happen when Duff shoved Young over near his own corner two minutes into injury time. Duff's experience won a free kick down the other end of the pitch, in what felt like the sixth minute of four minutes added on. Murphy floated it over, it kind of hit Hangeland and seemed to rest in the net with no-one really reacting. The goal was all the more odd considering that some parts of the Hammy End were getting ready to boo the team off.
An old Villa supporting friend had come along from Newquay to this game and was sat in the Putney End. The conclusion to the match was magnified threefold for the poor bugger given that his other half had bought him the tickets for his birthday and I had given him a betting slip for the correct score of Fulham 0-1 Aston Villa. He found something to enjoy in the day though - it was only the second time he'd been able to see his team play. I remember once when we were living together in Preston he was trying to get someone to go and watch Villa at Ewood Park with him, but couldn't get a partner in crime. He was mightily glad he missed that match as Blackburn routed them 5-0.