ASTON VILLA 2 BRENTFORD 2

Stewart Purvis sees the Bees almost pull off an unlikely win.

 

‘They don’t bring many coaches do they ? ' said one of the 30,000 Villa fans heading to the game. One coach from MCH of Uxbridge stood proudly in the car park. Brentford, the fan explained to his mates, was somewhere in West London, near Chelsea. One mate said he’d heard it was a ‘great little club’.

 

By the end of this match their team had tried and failed for the fifth time to beat this ‘little club’ in a Championship match. Indeed they very nearly lost. As one tweeter put it Villa celebrated a draw against the Bees as if they’d beaten Barcelona.

For the first 20 minutes Villa were in complete command. Jack Grealish -’Super Jack’ Villa fans chanted- was running the game for Villa in that slightly annoying socks down way he sometimes does.. One of Villa’s other stars, John McGinn, put over crosses and corners that had Bentley and his defence struggling. Then, as if out of nothing, Canos, Watkins and Maupay, all of them under the age of 23, combined to put Brentford ahead, the French striker smashing it into the net.

Villa took control again and it was no surprise when Kodjia rounded Konsa on the edge of the box and equalised with a shot as powerful as Maupay’s.

When half-time came, to much relief in the away end, the stats showed Villa making the chances and the Bees making the fouls. Villa had earned 8 corners, Bees had 2 (was it really as many as 2).

When the subs appeared for their half-time kick-around Kamo Mokotjo sprinted out, ready for action, and it was clear Dean Smith was planning changes.The sad truth was that the midfield trio of McEachran, Macleod and Sawyers who’d strolled through Rotherham, shocked Stoke and baffled Sheffield Wednesday were not cutting it this time. Macleod was first to go replaced by Mokotjo, then McEachran gave way to Yennaris, a double disappointment for Josh as he had been voted captain for this game. It was noticeable that Woods hadn’t been brought on.

By the time Benrahma came on for Canos in the 72nd minute, Dean Smith’s strategy was starting to work, the subs were making a difference, the siege of Bentley’s goalmouth was being lifted, helpfully for Dalsgaard Adomah had been subbed, Grealish had gone quiet and, wait a minute, look at the scoreboard, amazingly it was still 1-1. If anybody looked like scoring Brentford did.

And they did. In the away end we didn’t get the perfect view except to see Neal Maupay steaming towards us looking very pleased with himself.  It turned out that, no surprise,Watkins had made it with a run and shot which the keeper could only block and Maupay launched himself feet first to put the rebound in.

In the mayhem amongst the 660 of us the man behind me dropped his phone and broke the case. ‘Worth it’ he said.

With eight minutes of regular time and then five more added on there was always the chance Villa would get level.  In fact it was Brentford who iniitally almost got more with a Benrahma header going closest. But in the final 15 seconds of action a free kick led to Kodjia heading past Bentley. In the away end we allowed ourselves a moment of mourning for what might have been. Then on the final whistle we instantly reframed the story of the night and deemed that we would always have been happy with a point. Dean Smith said much the same thing. He wondered if he’d been wrong to select the same team four times in succession and thought Villa should not have been given the free kick that led to the final goal.

We gave the lads a good reception and there was a special cheer for Ollie Watkins after he got the Man of the Match award from Sky.The feedback from people watching on TV was that Maupay might be in trouble for a stamp but that was one for another day.

The players went off to a hotel in the West Midlands. They will train locally then head north for Saturday’s game at Blackburn. It sounded like the line up will change for that match, Benrahma looks likely to take over from Canos. 

In the Villa car park, that Brentford fans’ coach filled up with happy supporters, our team still unbeaten this season and fourth in the table. The fans’ view on the night was unanimous: ‘What a game’. 

 

Aston Villa :Nyland, Tuanzebe (sub Hourihane), Chester, Jedinak, Hutton, Whelan (Hepburn-Murphy), Elmohamady, McGinn, Grealish, Adomah (Green), Kodjia.

 

Brentford: Bentley, Dalsgaard, Konsa, Mepham, Barbet, McEachran (Yennaris) , Canos (Benrahma),Sawyers, Macleod (sub Mokotjo), Watkins, Maupay