Aston Villa 1 – 0 Derby County
Good things come to those who wait. Well, Aston Villa – the club, players and supporters – must have been truly evil in a previous life.
James Chester grabbed the only goal of the game. It wasn’t a stunning strike nor will it win any national ‘Goal of the Season’ competitions; it might just be our goal of the season though. A header from Henri Lansbury’s corner, powerful enough to find the net, which is all you need.
And it was a goal which brought us the first win of 2017. Think about that for one moment; the first win of this calendar year. Steve Bruce was in danger of slipping from ‘saviour’ to ‘not even he can save ya’.
But it doesn’t matter; three points which eased the relegation concerns were very welcome indeed. Nine without a win is now a winning run of one game. Maybe we can make it two against Bristol City in midweek; that really would be something to get excited about. Or less worried, one of the two and I much prefer the former.
It wasn’t a pretty match, to be honest. There were few chances of note. Chester had one effort saved by Carson before the goal while Green rattled the post just after the break. It was a fairly nervy hour or so after Chester’s goal with our knack of gifting a goal or two late in the game.
Derby had a penalty shout, but it’s always good to give the visiting supporters a sense of indignity in defeat. Bent was caught by Nathan Baker in the area but the referee was having none of it. It left the Derby fans howling at the decision which makes a change from howling at the moon.
As the final quarter of the game, Sam Johnstone produced an outstanding save from Bent but when Ince had a sight of goal shortly after, he didn’t get it on target.
And as the day looked to be heading toward the welcome three points, Leandro Bacuna took leave of his senses. Disgruntled by a decision, the Dutch defender shoved the linesman. It wasn’t anything like as bad as Paolo Di Canio’s shove on Paul Alcock and sadly, it didn’t produce a comedy fall from the lino.
It did produce a red card though and a bucketload of trouble is heading Bacuna’s way. If Arsene Wenger gets a four-match ban for the slightest touch of an official, Bacuna faces that as a minimum.
With the match in its death throes, there was little chance for Derby to capitalise. It all adds to the sense of relief which swept around Villa Park at the final whistle.
Steve Bruce acknowledged that the win was hard-fought but deserved on the balance play. I don’t know about that but how many times this season have we come away feeling hard done by or robbed?
Football is a cruel mistress at times but the faithful keep returning to B6. Maybe this was the kick-start the season needed.