Aston Villa 2 – 2 Preston North End
Mid-table obscurity has been well and truly nailed this season. Eleven points off the bottom three, a similar distance to the top. We’re out of the promotion race barring the discovery of form which we have hitherto kept well-hidden. I’m not ruling out a battle to stay in the division. Well, not entirely. We’re capable of throwing away two goal lead so
We’re capable of throwing away two goal lead, so we’re capable of conceding two when we go back to our usual form of scoring just the once in matches. Dropping a two-goal lead is never a pleasant experience although I could focus purely on the opening forty-five minutes, rather than the numbing desperation which replaced them in the second half.
Bright from kick-off, Villa’s movement was good and the passing crisp. It was the sort of performance where we looked like we might go on a run to challenge the top six. A team normally storms through late in the season, but if we did that, we’d probably get to the last day of the season with destiny in our hands and lose. That’s what the second half felt like. Perhaps we’ve just saved ourselves the bother.
With Jonathan Kodjia in Africa, Gestede in the north-east and Ross McCormack in his own universe – don’t let the door smack you on the arse on the way out – we were light up front and yet more effective than in any of the other games since our star striker went off on international duty.
Albert Adomah grabbed a couple, and we were so sparky and inventive that even Gabby looked to get in on the act. Would you Adam and Eve it? Or Adomah and Eve it, more appropriately. The deadlock was broken halfway through the first half. Grealish set Gabby on a collision course with the Preston ‘keeper, and the inevitable happened when the ball fell to the winger; Adomah gleefully slotted home with not a care in the world. Nor a defender in sight.
1 – 0 and a good start. A relatively early breakthrough but more importantly, we were on top and frustration at wasted opportunities couldn’t build. Wasting the chance of a second, yes, we could get frustrated at that and Gabby headed comfortably at Maxwell to give us a something tangible in that respect.
The second wasn’t quick in arriving, but at least it came. Adomah grabbed his second from the penalty spot, with the added bonus of giving the goalkeeper ‘the eyes’. Short of a Panenka, there are few more satisfying sights than a goalkeeper determinedly diving in one direction only to realise as soon as his weight has shifted irrevocably onto one side of his body, that the ball has gone the other way.
That moment where it registers on his face that 30,000 people and a viewing audience of about 12, has seen the forward make him look a complete muppet. Which we, of course, are experienced in. Except Preston did that to the entire back four and pulled it back to 2 – 2.
I could launch into a diatribe about inexperienced goalkeepers but how many goals do we concede where the goalkeeper is utterly to blame? Wolves, Sheffield Wednesday? Usually, it’s an utter balls up by the defence.
The thing is, do we dwell on this or do we accept the rest of the season is done? As long as the players and manager don’t take that flippant an attitude, we should be alright in our pursuit of mid-table obscurity. We’ve done a good job of it so far…