I can’t actually remember the last time Villa went into the last day of the season with something on the line. Today against Brighton was no different.
The Seagulls on the other hand needed a win to guarantee them the Championship title.
In terms of the starting XI, Scott Hogan started upfront with Kodjia and Gabby injured. Bree also came in for Hutton at right-back. Whilst waiting for my mate at the players entrance, I saw Henri Lansbury driving in. This doesn’t bode well when Lansbury was starting and it was about 20 minutes till kick off.
Villa had most of the possession early on, but it was cautious possession. This might have been because it was the only sunny day in Brum this year, maybe the players didn’t want to lose the ball then have to track back in the heat.
In the first half, latecomer Lansbury had a couple of chances. Firstly, a longshot in which David Stockdale dealt with comfortably. Then a point blank header which he sent wide from about four yards.
As a whole, Villa’s first half openings came because of Brighton mistakes and not because we had made them ourselves. Our best opportunity of the opening 45 came when a weak back pass put Hogan in on goal. However, the former Brenrford striker’s shot was hit wide.
Brighton had their chances in the first half but weren’t properly going for it like a team fighting for the Championship should be. Nonetheless, they weren’t helped by our defence dropping so deep.
The second half was a country mile better in terms of entertainment. However, on too many occasions there was not enough support from midfield when Villa got into attacking positions.
But Villa being Villa, things took a turn for the worse after 63 minutes. Baker missed the ball and was left chasing Sam Baldock. Baldock was then “tripped”, or at least fell over his own feet, and as last man, Baker was sent off. Murray then sent Johnstone the wrong way with his penalty.
That meant on Elphick came on for Amavi to make a back three. His first involvement was a weak back pass. The Seagulls almost capitalized but Chester stood firm to save the day.
Soon after substitutes Jack Grealish and Keinan Davies combined well. The former played it crossed it into the box, but Davies could only turn and shoot into Stockdale’s grateful hands.
One player annoyed me throughout the game was Leandro Bacuna, who looked like the man frustrated not to be playing Champions League football. Fair play, he strung some passes together in midfield, but every time Villa won a free kick, him and Hourihane would always argue over taking it. In the end, the above mentioned free kick was taken by the Irishman Hourihane and forced a good save.
Toward the end of the game, the big screen at the stadium kept displaying messages stating not to run on the pitch. After this I picked up on this conversation behind me.
Fan A: Why would we want to run onto the pitch? We’re losing.
Fan B: Probably to punch Bacuna.
Then with one minute of normal time remaining, Grealish cut in from the left and banged in a shot past Stockdale from a full 25 yards. Admittedly the Brighton keeper should have done better but nonetheless, scenes ensued.
With that, it was another season over. With Newcastle winning, Jack Grealish and Villa had effectively denied Brighton the Championship title.
One last thing to add, after the game I went on “TheVillaView” fan cams after the game. So if you’ve got time, go and check it out on YouTube.