The Villa gained 3 momentous points in a must win situation at home to Derby County who required the 3 points themselves if they had any chance of still making the play offs. Although Aston Villa remain in the same position as they did at the start of the day in 17th place the win ensures they are 8 points clear of the safety zone as the majority of teams at the bottom of the league failed to win.
Villa Gain Valuable 3 Points In Scrap With Derby
The relief in the Villa camp must be exorbitant as this was the first win in ten games for the Midlands outfit with Steve Bruce in control. You can sense Bruce and his team wiping their brows in the sheer luxury of knowing they have probably kept the wolf from the sheep’s door with this triumph, a well needed confidence booster for the team just before we enter the last quarter of the season.
Incredibly as we approach March and the spring this was Aston Villa’s first victory in 2017 as they beat Derby in a hard-fought Championship game at Villa Park.
Centre-back James Chester scored the only goal when he headed in Henri Lansbury’s corner from close range with a nonchalant flick.
Derby had a big appeal for a penalty denied before the break when Darren Bent went down under a challenge. It was a bit 50/50 but I’ve seen a lot more feeble requests and challenges given.
Andre Green hit the post early in the second half for Villa, who held on to end a 10-match winless streak. This was despite Leandro Bacuna’s late sending-off with just a minute of stoppage time remaining. Who knows what might have happened to the Villa if he had been sent off with a half hour to go.
Bacuna was dismissed for the first time in a Villa shirt in added time after an altercation with an assistant referee which in the circumstances was a very daft situation to play out and maybe he was attempting to waste time but luckily for Villa, Derby were unable to create any further chances.
Darren Bent had the Rams’ best opportunity of the second half, but the former Villa striker’s header was pushed over the bar by goalkeeper Sam Johnstone with a scintillating save.
That effort was Derby’s only attempt on target, as they saw their winless run extend to six games in all competitions, leaving them 10 points outside the play-off places and really they had to win at Villa Park to have any chance of promotion but they blew it and now mid table for the remainder of the season appears to be a safe bet.
Villa, meanwhile, remain 17th in the table, but as mentioned they are now eight points clear of the relegation zone with 13 matches to play this season.
Aston Villa are the only team in the bottom 8 to register a win so despite not advancing up the table there should be smiles all round Villa Park and Steve Bruce should be a happier man this weekend.
Bruce had this to say when interviewed after the game:
“It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t going to be. It’s a relief for everyone concerned. It wasn’t great but at least the players showed that it meant something to them.
“We have got a lot of improving to do and we understand that. The supporters have gone home today having seen their team roll up their sleeves.
“The club has had a tough time for years and I am not going to change that in 16 weeks. But I will change it, I need time.”
Meanwhile his Derby County counterpart and former England manager Steve McLaren wasn’t overly happy with the refereeing experience and had this to say about the game and some of the decisions:
“We deserved something and I can’t believe we’ve lost, but if you don’t score goals you don’t win games.
“I’m hugely disappointed and I can’t believe we didn’t get a penalty. I’ve seen it again and it was stonewall.
“The referee told me he wasn’t 100 per cent sure but it has cost us the game.”
Derby will be disappointed that this match has cost them dearly and they will most probably be languishing somewhere in mid table. Aston Villa will probably also now be fairly much in the same area of mid table but unlike their Derbyshire rivals they will probably be relishing it.
A long overdue win and a long overdue sense of relief for the club and the supporters.
In the words of music starlet Yazz who was big in the music charts around the same time that Aston Villa were hurtling along well in the Premier League, ‘The Only Way Is Up’.