It was a frustrating result. A good game to watch but hellish when you look at the scoreline. It was one of those matches where you just can’t work out why we didn’t hit five or six. We didn’t and in the cold light of day, it’s two dropped points.
Pierluigi Gollini continued his run of bad luck in the first half, picking up a knock whilst the XI took on some of his bad luck as McCormack hit the post and Jonathan Kodjia almost got the ball over the line. Almost isn’t in these days; oh for the days of refereeing and lino errors!
The second half began much as expected. Bunn replaced Gollini and on 57 minutes, the ball was nestling in the Villa net. Typical; Gary Gardner gave the ball away but there seemed little danger. As Forest moved up the pitch, opportunities to tackle and intercept were spurned; Apostolos Vellios needed no second invitation to score an outstanding goal from long range.
In these situations, the past comes back to haunt us. We remember last season all too readily; new players, new manager, same Villa, we immediately think.
And then we see a spine has been brought into this side by Roberto Di Matteo. The fundamental change came with the introduction of Rudy Gestede. The statisticians tell us that he has a good record against Forest; he improved that yesterday. More than anything, he injected energy and added more physical presence to the attack.
He’d been on the pitch seven minutes when Villa levelled. Jordan Ayew lifted his head and found the unmarked Ross McCormack on the left edge of the area; the ball was sent through a defender’s legs into the right side of the goal.
If Villa Park erupted at the equaliser, it became a cacophony two minutes later. The ball sat up and Gestede launched a bicycle kick; the Holte End could scarcely believe its eyes as a 2 – 1 lead was established.
At that point, you want the players and manager to have a plan to manage the game through to a successful conclusion. There was no doubting the spirit in fighting to retrieve the deficit and then take the lead. There is a lot of doubt about seeing the game out. Once again, a win eluded our grasp.
Dr Xia lambasted the players post-match and I understand why but it does detract from a phenomenal goal. Horrible to concede but you have to stand back and admire the trickery of Pereira. Pacey, deft touches, body swerves; football at its peak. Even Lansbury’s finish was exquisite, with the outside of the boot.
Perhaps we need t-shirts which ask “Why does it always happen to us?”
As much you admire Pereira’s run, he did us a favour with his emotional celebration. Referees require a degree in pedantry and yesterday was no exception with a second yellow shown to the Forest player. It robbed them of the impetus the goal gave them.
And thankfully so; we may not have survived an onslaught which might have ensued.
It’s football, isn’t it? Relieved, peeved and frustrated at taking a point; the gamut of emotions run and we wouldn’t have it any other way. OK, we would – winning ways and hopefully we can get back to them against Brentford.