A sorry end to an era at Villa Park

Hardly a vintage Everton performance, though I'm pretty sure we took our foot off the gas at 2-0.

Paul Traill 02/03/2016 28comments  |  Jump to last
Aston Villa 1 - 3 Everton

It's been apparent for some time now that Aston Villa will be relegated this season and as those of you who have been to Villa Park will testify, it's a belter of a stadium which combines the perfect mix of traditional values with enough modernisation to still stand as one of the top stadiums in the country. I was therefore made up to get a ticket for this one, our last trip to Villa Park in who knows how long? "The most played fixture in top flight football" said Gary as we purchased our matchday programmes from the vendor, "and after tonight it's all over".

It was just as well we went out with a bang then on a good away trip. I got out of work at about 4pm and made straight for Bromborough to pick up Gary and Sue. With the game kicking off at 7.45pm and with M6 rush hour to encounter, I anticipated arriving at about 7pm at the earliest, and so couldn't believe what a clear run we had as we parked up near the ground at about 6pm. We went straight into the second pub we saw, the Aston Tavern, and I was overjoyed when I enquired about if they sell food and was told that you get a free pork baguette on entry! It was no lame pork baguette either, complete with trimmings of stuffing and apple sauce. It was nice to sit back and wash it down with a beer or two before heading on to the Doug Ellis Stand.

On-route I picked up a flyer off a gentleman. "Support us, let's get our club back" he was yelling. Reading the flyer, it was apparant that a 74th minute walk-out was planned from the Aston Villa fans. The 74th minute representing their formation in 1874 in case you were wondering.

Into Villa Park then and Kevin Mirallas replaced Tom Cleverley in the only change form our win at Bournemouth. Niasse started from the substitutes bench. The Aston Villa team, though far from littered with talent, had Guzan, Clarke, Lescott, Hutton, Westwood, Ayew and Agbonlahor in their ranks. Surely enough experience in their to help them at least fight for their safety with more pride than they are doing. A sparse crowd of 29,755 shows how little faith their support now have also. "It's so empty how will we even know when they walk-out" quipped the on-form Gary.

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On to proceedings on the pitch and we looked smart in white attacking the Holte End. We began brightly and were ahead in no time at all when an early corner from Kevin Mirallas was headed in by Funes Mori for his third league goal of the season. The marking was so neglected it was an easy header from our Argentine centre back who made no mistake.

Aston Villa rallied somewhat and Joel Robles had to be alert to make a couple of saves from distance, and just as they were beginning to get plucky, we put a dagger through their hearts with a breakaway goal. When Ross Barkley played the ball to Mirallas I thought there was too much on the pass, though the Belgian did well to take the ball on and cut it back for Aaron Lennon who finished well. Thirty minutes played and Everton 2-0 ahead. Aston Villa just going through the motions. "We're fucking rich" was sung by the travelling support. Nobody even bothered to sing "going down", far too desperate their situation is.

At 2-0 ahead Everton seemed content in sitting back and conserving their energy as Aston Villa had nothing to give. Romelu Lukaku, who looked more menacing than he has done for some time, came close with a header from an Aaron Lennon centre which Brad Guzan did well to save. You sensed a goal wasn't far away for Lukaku and it arrived moments later when ultimately from the resulting corner, Funes Mori put the ball back across the box for Lukaku to stab home from close range. 3-0 and it was a joy to see Lukaku pound the Everton badge on his chest as he celebrated in front of us.

With half an hour remaining the Aston Villa fans then found their voice and the team finally had a go. On 74 minutes several thousand did indeed walk out in protest against Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner. They missed a goal for their team in doing so when substitute Gestede out-jumped the lackadaisical substitute John Stones to grab a consolation for Aston Villa.

The hosts rallied from here and Phil Jagielka in particular remained resolute at the back whilst many of his team mates were sloppy with possession. Thankfully we withstood Villa's late efforts and in the end got over the line fairly comfortably...Niasse even afforded a few minutes on the pitch late on.

It took a little while to get away from the ground after the game, but once away, the M6 was plain-sailing and we got back home hassle free.

So hardly a vintage Everton performance though I'm pretty sure we took our foot off the gas at 2-0. I felt that if we really went for it we might have scored a few more but the three points are what matters, and it'll be interesting to see where we are in the league if we can overcome another team in claret and blue this coming Saturday.

Aston Villa a sorry sight though. I'll be sad to see them go.

Player ratings

Robles: Pretty helpless with the goal and saved what he had to. Suspect at crosses though in my opinion. He doesn't come for much at all. 6

Oviedo: Battled well. His ability isn't really in question but he's always prone to an injury, and it cost us when he went down injured and Villa scored whilst he was on the sideline getting treatment... with a cross from our left. Leighton Baines is far more consistent both in performance and availability. 6

Funes Mori: My man of the match. Did his job defensively and contributed in attack with a goal and an assist. 8

Jagielka: Kept them out and was particularly important as we dealt with some late, unexpected, pressure. 8

Coleman: Had a decent game getting forward until he was rested on 73 minutes. 7
Barry: Typically excellent against his former club. Perhaps his last performance at Villa Park. 8

McCarthy: Got about the pitch well. 7

Mirallas: Contributed well with two assists and also dug in with his defensive work. Has he done enough to stay in the team. 7

Lennon: Also contributed with great industry and another goal. Will surely remain in the team for the weekend. 7

Barkley: Had quite a positive game but when Ross switches off mentally...he REALLY switches off mentally. The last 10 minutes he was a total disaster. Luckily it didn't effect the outcome. 6

Lukaku: Looked the most up for it he has been for ages and he's now our record Premier League goalscorer in one season, and it's only just March. With six goals already against West Ham United in his Everton career, you wouldn't bet against him adding to that tally again this weekend. 7

Stones (for Coleman): At fault for the goal but hopefully some minutes on the pitch will do him some good. 5
Baines (for Oviedo): Looked a little rusty. 5
Niasse (for Mirallas): Got involved. 6

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Reader Comments (28)

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Steve Carse
1 Posted 03/03/2016 at 15:35:19
I love Villa Park, partly because its been the scene of some of our most memorable games over the years, particularly FA and League Cup semis. But also because, as Paul says, of the great architectural mix.

The external view of the Holte End is for my money one of the greatest sights in British football. Majestic and imposing. The red brick make up of the stadium reminds me much of Goodison Park before the ugly, now rusting, metal cladding was introduced to cover the original brickwork (presumably to save a few bob on repointing).

How long it will be before Villa get back to the Premier League is anyone’s guess. On Tuesday, they looked more like a League One team than a Championship one.

Peter Mills
2 Posted 03/03/2016 at 15:50:34
Had a bad visit to Villa Park for the 1969 FA Cup semi-final, but after that, especially in the 80s, we experienced some of the great days in our Club's history.

It's a shame to see how they are now. They are proper club, I hope they get back soon.

Harold Matthews
3 Posted 03/03/2016 at 16:00:49
Fine report, Paul. Sad time for Villa fans. Hard to imagine them in the Championship but that’s where they’re heading and they’ll do well to make the playoffs.

Agree with your Funes Mori and Lennon ratings but feel you’ve been very generous with the rest.

Baines looked far from rusty to me. Not seen him look so strong and sharp for quite some time. As for Barkley. You’re dead right. His mind was elsewhere.

Christopher Timmins
4 Posted 03/03/2016 at 16:11:04
The Villa story is such a sad one and it may take them some time to make it back to the top flight. However, they have experienced the lower leagues during my lifetime and came back to the top table.

Robles has been watching Howard too much, he does not come for any crosses and unless he rectifies this he is not the long term answer.

Alan Bodell
5 Posted 03/03/2016 at 16:22:14
Tim Sherwood has to take a lot of the blame, Lerner gave him the money and wow, did he blow it.
Shane Corcoran
6 Posted 03/03/2016 at 16:38:28
Villa have been out of the top flight as recently as 1987 despite their total time spent at the highest level.
Gerry Morrison
7 Posted 03/03/2016 at 16:42:54
Peter. Me too. Tommy Booth, the bastard. Cried all the way home.
Ian Robert
8 Posted 03/03/2016 at 17:01:37
Love Villa Park... became my most visited away ground due to the number of semis/replays we played there. Great club. They were one of the "if you win the English league... you win the European Cup" teams that we were due to follow.

[Stop it Ian... don't get bitter!!!]

Ged Simpson
9 Posted 03/03/2016 at 17:05:19
I think Villa and Spurs were both clubs like us. Arsenal and Citeh too. How things change. Will miss them
Ian Robert
10 Posted 03/03/2016 at 17:09:08
Not havin' it, Ged... Citeh? Nah... no way. :))
Andy Crooks
11 Posted 03/03/2016 at 18:18:08
Great stuff, as usual Paul. I share your opinion. Villa could have been us. It is sad to see their plight because they are, like us, a proper football club. Your reports give a real supporters day out feel. Well done.
Jim Jennings
12 Posted 03/03/2016 at 18:39:07
I pretty much echo every word Andy Crooks says. Great report, really paints a mental picture.

Very sad to see Villa go this way. They were absolutely awful at Goodison in November and not much better on Tuesday. Sherwood and Lambert before him spent a lot of money on poor players and they look like they have thrown in the towel.

Darren Hind
13 Posted 03/03/2016 at 18:42:41
Agree with comments above, one of the great stadiums.
Martin Mason
14 Posted 03/03/2016 at 18:44:44
Aston Villa are my second team really and I have great memories watching them beat Man Utd home and away in the League Cup when Villa were in the old Second Division and Man Utd riding high in the first. There were thousands of Villa fans at Old Trafford and in fantastic voice.
Richard Pike
15 Posted 03/03/2016 at 21:39:53
Dreadful shame that they were allowed to demolish the old Trinity Road stand frontage. That should have been listed.

Here's a thought: going back just five or six years, the chasing pack below the old Sky Four featured among others Blackburn, Portsmouth, Bolton and Villa. Wow.

Danny Broderick
16 Posted 03/03/2016 at 22:12:16
I am also gutted that Villa are going down. A proper football club like us. I can't quite imagine seeing them in the Championship. Hope they come back asap.

Great title by the way. It does feel like the end of an era, in terms of us visiting Villa Park.

Phil Sammon
17 Posted 03/03/2016 at 22:50:11
I agree with you about Barkley, Paul. I do wish the gaffer would consider subbing him after 75 mins rather than the usual suspects getting the hook.
Mark Pringle
18 Posted 03/03/2016 at 00:10:32
Just read Lyndon's match report and now this article. Yes it wasn’t his best game but why the repeated and constant criticism of Barkley? He has had a good season so far and is getting better and, most importantly, is one of our own.

I appreciate this doesn’t exempt him from criticism but the constant moaning and whining about his mistakes and what he doesn’t do well is getting so boring. Especially when other consistent under performers are let off so lightly, for example Coleman, who I really like but he now takes so many touches and slows the play to walking pace before turning backwards so many times per game, yet never mentioned.

Say all you want about Lukaku and Stones but if Barkley went he would be the biggest loss, especially if driven away by his own fans.
Anthony Dwyer
19 Posted 04/03/2016 at 00:18:11
I agree with your comments about player ratings Paul.

It may be interesting to see what type of keeper we bring in, as I don't see Joel as top notch.

We have a strong side, it would look a lot stronger for a Hugo Loris style signing.

Oh an a Pocochino style manager ;-)

Joe Green
21 Posted 04/03/2016 at 08:45:05
Gerry (7) – yes, me too !

Ged (9) – showing my age, but the only club I ever considered to be on a par with us was Arsenal. Certainly not City, Spurs or Villa. Although perhaps my great-grandfather would have considered Villa! Times change... my old man used to view Man City as a more prestigious club than Man Utd, who he regarded as merely post-war arrivistes.

On Robles not coming out for crosses just like Howard; that suggests they are coached that way and the defence has been drilled that this is the way to treat crosses. Well at least I hope the defence has been drilled.

John Raftery
22 Posted 04/03/2016 at 11:18:34
The vast majority of top goalkeepers seem to stay on their line unless they are 100% confident of getting at least a fist on the ball. The trajectory of the ball and the positioning of defenders often makes it impossible for the goalkeeper to get anywhere near the ball. Defenders are usually in the best position to deal with the cross and there are usually enough of them around to expect them to do so.

Generally the standard of goalkeeping in the top flight is not great. How many would we be keen to sign?

Christine Foster
23 Posted 04/03/2016 at 14:24:10
It's sad to see Villa in the state they are no, absolutely no spirit, leadership or fight. Given up. One has to wonder if they would have been in this position if Moyes or Big Sam had been appointed, I doubt they would be where they are. Big changes required by owner, of manager and team.. if not they are on a slide....
Rick Tarleton
24 Posted 04/03/2016 at 16:31:27
They’re a real club. One of those you always expect to be in the first tier. On "Sunday Supplement" a few months back, one of the journalists reckoned that the two worst dressing-rooms in the league were Villa and Newcastle, so whoever’s managing those clubs has that attitude to contend with.

Both clubs are also managed by men who think that the purpose of a football club is to make money for the owners.

Sad that clubs like Villa, Newcastle and Sunderland as well could be in the second tier and real , traditional areas and fans will be deprived of top-tier football.

Tony Cheek
25 Posted 04/03/2016 at 17:15:38
"McCarthy: got about the pitch well." That about describes what he does in a game. In fact you could write that BEFORE the ratings, Paul!

Although he did actually try a shot against Villa. Blocked of course, but do you know how rare that is? There is something not in balance with the trio Barry, McCarthy, and Barkley. No wonder Lukaku looks like giving up sometimes. We need a fit Besic and Yarmolenko out there.

Enjoy your writes, Paul!

Johnny Rainford
26 Posted 04/03/2016 at 23:55:03
Villa... Leeds... Forest. These are clubs which should be in the Premier League. It shows nobody is safe I suppose.

Personally my own memories of Villa are somewhat negative... 1977... 1989 and the Cottee / Beagrie game which showed how far we had sunk in the space of a couple of seasons. Can’t blame Villa for that obviously but the mental scars of that game combined with Milli Vanilli on the official club away-game-coach on the way down will never be washed away....

Good luck to them anyway.

Andy McNabb
27 Posted 05/03/2016 at 03:41:47
Support and perception are such strange, objective things. Interesting to hear the comments re the plight of Villa.

They have always been one of my least favourite clubs. I spent my teenage years in Dudley and endured many a hard time on a Monday morning from Villa fans at school, who all seemed to be animals.

Baggies fans, apart from a few morons, were ok. Wolves fans were generally unlikeable and not particularly intelligent but Villa fans around my age group were just horrible.

I also struggle with the memory that Villa Park was where I was when the other semi-final at Hillsborough was taking place.

The phrase, "there but for the grace ..." does come to mind, though. I wonder if Evertonians would ever reach the point of walking out on 78 minutes?

Ian Riley
28 Posted 05/03/2016 at 08:30:15
I work with a few villa fans. This has been coming. A slow painful demise for the last four years. Such a shame because the team dosent look strong enough for the championship.
Peter Roberts
29 Posted 05/03/2016 at 11:55:27
Everything bad about villa stems from that egotistical charlatan Martin Oneill.

Lerners biggest mistake was entrusting that clown with the money to blow on players like Emile heskey, Marlon Harewood. He agreed to put 20 odd players on mega money contracts and Lerner didn't know any better.

I would love nothing more than to see him questioned on how he spectacularly blew a title winning budget on championship players. Everything since then has been an exercise in trying to right his wrongs - but the sppointments were wrong. Villa should have gone for Moyes as soon as he was sacked from United. I don't like Moyes but he was the right man for that job.

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