RAMBLE | Aston Villa 1 – 2 Wednesday

RAMBLE | Aston Villa 1 – 2 Wednesday

After a dreary incoherent performance against Forest on Wednesday night, expectations were very low for this trip to the west midlands. Despite a late comeback we were not good and 2-1 flattered us.

There have also been reports of the players having double training sessions yesterday so it sounds like Jos has not been treating Wednesday night lightly.

Nevertheless, this was a proper away day with an early (ish) train to catch and a few beers to follow. Football comes secondary to a good day out with good friends. As such I met James on his street and we headed to the station. Although as it happened we’d both spent the night feeling under the weather and James wondered whether he’d make it all.

Anyway, we survived the night walked in putting the world to rights with all things Wednesday and what to expect after Wednesday night. The general consensus being that we need to be realistic that this will likely be a mid-table rebuilding season and that means that when go to places like Forest (having had their rebuilding seasons) and Villa as second favourites.

We arrived at the station with Kieran already on the platform and time to get a coffee and more surprisingly the train was actually early! Onto Birmingham …

Having spent most of the train journey talking politics rather than football, the first thing on the agenda was breakfast at our regular breakfast spot just outside New Street. That sounds simple enough but this is the most complicated train station in the world to navigate and if you take the wrong exit you end up miles from where you want to be.

Fear not! We’ve remembered now that all we have to do is find John Lewis and Cherry Reds Café is around the corner. So, we come through the barriers and turn and point towards an exit … I think it’s this way … Then James points to a HUGE John Lewis sign, saying I think it might be there. Oh.

Any away day needs a good breakfast to get the day truly started and this place never fails. They also do very good veggie breakfasts with Halloumi and vegan with spinach so Kieran and I opted for those but with black pudding added just to confuse the staff.

With breakfast done it was time, it was just passed 11am meaning that BrewDog is open! Time for a beer! Or we thought … The doors were still locked despite it being 15 minutes after the official opening time and you could see some staff just sitting down texting. Very poor! As the rain poured it felt like an age before the doors eventually opened!

Pelupessy battles for possession

I opted to start with a sour to start the day off. Although the first Gose I tried was actually a little disappointing but the second one had a fantastic hit of sourness – perfect. Kieran also hated it, proving that it’s a good sour.

Beer and conversation was now flowing … the heart of any away day. Although my cold was also rearing its ugly head so I moved towards stouts for its dark medicinal qualities. Well, that was my excuse anyway. I also like how the toilets in this particular BrewDog has Marvel Comics on the walls. Who doesn’t like reading a bit of Avengers while having a wee?

Time was also flying and we realised there wasn’t time to move to another venue as anywhere else was further away from the station so we decided on two beers for the train. One for the platform, waiting for the train and another for the train itself.

Thankfully we managed to navigate the maze of New Street for the train and moved onto the second beer in time for its arrival. More importantly we managed to get seats! We were around a few Villa fans who were as pessimistic for their chances as we were for ours. They also do not like Steve Bruce and think he’s a dead man walking.

We managed to get the football special with no stops to Witten so in real time it was only half a beer. Thankfully the local police weren’t bothered about us walking with cans although these cans looked more like Lilt or Diet Coke than beer, which probably helped.

We arrived at the away end at the same time as Mark who appeared to have opted for some kind of fishing hat for the day. Then to our seats with a very poor view as we were level with the six-yard box and only about five rows up.

We buy our away tickets in the first phase as we’re lucky enough to have sufficient points but we constantly get the worst seats. Very frustrating.

THE MATCH

The team was more like the line up from Stoke but Joao dropped to the bench with Hector coming in and forming a back three with Lees and Pudil who replaced the injured Thorniley.

We got off to a great start and suddenly Fletcher is through … can we repeat the start we had last year with Reach? Sadly, on this occasion he couldn’t get it down and it’s over the bar.

But from the start the shape and energy of the team was considerably better than against Forest on Wednesday night. I also do like it when we play with three at the back. It gives us more structure and defensive rigour, which means we have a much stronger midfield. We were clearly on top and needed to take advantage.

Particularly it’s the young full backs who were shining. Penney and Baker are full of energy, can handle a good winger and are a real handful going forward.

The game was pretty much deadlocked for most of the first half but clearly too dull for James who decided to go for half time beers on 35 minutes. We thought he’d got confused or not seen the time.

By now, I was quite happy for us to just go in level and see the half out which is pretty much what happened.

We headed down to find James in what was already a very full concourse and finding James was clearly going to be a challenge. But first I needed to empty my bladder and very annoyingly, yet again it’s an away game where fans are smoking in the toilets! This happens all the time and again, it’s happening around stewards. I’d like to know why clubs like Villa think it’s ok to allow this? There are other clubs that allow fans out to smoke at half time. It can’t be that hard.

Anyway, sure enough, I found James and we tucked into the beer and decided that we were quite happy to be level at the break. Jordan’s dad Terry also showed up and said hello:

“It’s great to see you London lads here”.

“We’re not from London, we live in Sheffield!”

“Oh, I just thought ‘cos you’re Jordan’s mates”.

Amazingly to his dad, he has friends outside of London!

“Where are you in Sheffield anyway”.

“Sharrow Vale”, we reply.

“Oh,” he says, “same difference”.

SECOND HALF

We got back to our seats as the second half got underway. And again, we appeared to be on top and dominating. Reach surges forward and gets a ball in the box. Ooh and arrs. And then it falls to Matias and PING. IT’S STRAIGHT IN THE BOTTOM CORNER.

YEESSSSSSS!!!!! PANDEROMIUM!!!

FAN-FING-TASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!

Matias with the opener!

COME ON WEDNESDAY

Now can we hold on? Amid the celebrations, there was a little old lady in full Wednesday gear that didn’t come out of the celebrations too well. As Kieran and I were apologising and seeing if she was ok, Villa were attacking and suddenly there’s a gasp and all I see is the ball hit the net. 1-1

S**T.

It’s the hope that gets you but having seen the replays it’s was a fantastic goal and nobody was to blame. The lead barely lasted any time at all.

And then Villa dominated and a defeat started to seem inevitable. It all happened so quickly. But we rallied and there was a great ball into the box to Fletcher … he has to score …. WIDE.

DAMN. COME ON WEDNESDAY.

Then it’s up the other end and Pudil clears off the line from Hourihane. It’s end to end now. A good game but dangerous and throughout the Wednesday fans were excellent. The team was backed with a wall of positive noise

BARMY ARMY

Fletcher again looks through but can’t pull the trigger. He’s trying. He’s trying. Now personally, I’d have Bannan taking all corners and I’m always a little disappointed when it’s not him. So as we got a corner near us and it was taken by Bannan I was excited. But then it was a poor corner and didn’t beat the first man. It came to Reach then Pelupessy, who hit the perfect cross to Fletcher who found the corner of the net with a pinpoint header!!!!

YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!

Bullet header!

There were limbs everywhere and the players celebrating with us in front of us.

Come on! We have to hold this out now. And we don’t just sit back on a lead now. There was a time, particularly year two Carlos where we’d get a one goal lead and the bus would be parked. But we were still going forward and not just inviting pressure.

Then as we went to the last ten minutes Nuhiu and Joao were on for the two goal scorers and we had a shape to see the game out and put out the inevitable surge from Villa.

But for all their huffing and puffing there was no surge and the three points never felt at risk from the moment Fletcher’s header hit the back of the net. There is very little fight in this Villa team.

90 minutes came and there was an injury meaning the four minutes added on would be even longer. But actually, they went very quickly and suddenly the final whistle went. WHAT A WIN THAT WAS. Brilliant

Now, I’m happy we won but we weren’t out of the ground for ages and had to wait for James to do about 1000 takes for his Sky video. So, by the time we got to the station the queue was huge. There was one particular down Villa fan who we started speaking to but soon regretted it as he rambled on about Villa’s woes of the last twenty years.

“We used to be up there with the likes of Spurs”

… he went on and on and on and on and on and on and on

“It all went wrong with Randy Lerrrrner in two thouuuuuuuuand n neuuun”

Finally, the train arrived and we escaped his ramblings. And back in a bar which James and I found after the Wolves game last year. Except we’d completely forgotten how to find it. “Selfridges”, James said. “We need to find Selfridges”.

Finally, we found it somehow except we only had time for a couple before getting food and our train. The plan was beer and food in M&S but M&S in New Street had been cleaned out of sarnies! Damn.

A solid result

So, it was beer from M&S and food in Pret. But all in time for the train, which again was early! This is about as unexpected as no fight from Villa at 2-1 down.

Now, we’d a great day at this point but it was almost ruined by a bunch of bigoted so-called Wednesday fans on our carriage who thought sexist and homophobic abuse was acceptable.

First a female British Transport Police officer walked passed and they shouted “get your tits out” at her. She turned back and said that if of that any find of language continued she’s have no hesitation in throwing people off the train.

I then went to use the toilet and by the time I returned it was all kicking off. The sexist language had turned to homophobic language was Kieran was asking them to stop.

They didn’t and it continued.

“F**king b*mmers, think they’re so special”

“Maybe they’ll all Pimms. That’s a proper gay drink”.

It was at a volume that was clearly directed at us. And I felt unsafe and angry. They didn’t’ stop despite repeated requests to do so.

This has now been reported to the police and the journey ended with us by the doors of the train to avoid this group and giving reports to the police.

I have no idea what will come of this but they are known to the police and they had been at the match. The police know who they are and the club know who they are. I hope that both will talk to each other to ensure that these people are told that their behaviour is a shame on our club and they are not Wednesday fans. They are scum and if they think it is acceptable, they should be banned from Wednesday matches.

Anyway, determined not let a group of idiots ruin our day we headed for the Rutland Arms for a final beer to celebrate an excellent three points.

Jon

Owls Alive

Email: owlsalive@gmail.com

Twitter: @OwlsAlive and @jpowls

Images: swfc.co.uk unless stated otherwise


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