28th February 2004 - Casta Celtic (H)

After a couple of the worst performances in Villa memory, a game against the league leaders was probably not what was needed. Manager Treacy decided to shake the team up a bit. He moved Kieran back to centre half, John H into midfield and new man Brian up front. Unfortunately we were missing a few players but those who put on the white shirt gave 100%.

Casta started the game well and were probably thinking that they would have no problem in rolling us over considering the game a couple of weeks ago. But fortunately Villa were made of sterner stuff and were having their fair share of pressure and possession, and to be fair Hylo wasn't called in to serious action for the majority of the game. Kieran and Stretch were dominating the Casta front two, so much so that the tall centre forward was substituted at half time.

At that back Casta were a big physical side and Hugh and Brian had to work hard for any possession or chance that came their way.

A good first half ended scoreless, but the last time we met it was also level at half time and things fell apart in the second half, so we were determined to give it everything in the second period. Once again it was pretty even, the ref even commented on what an even game it was an d the fact that he was enjoying it....

The turning point of the game came from a Villa corner. With everyone bar John H pushed up the ball was cleared to the centre forward who had come on at half time. He gained control of the ball on the half way line and despite his best efforts John could not get close enough to make a telling tackle as the Casta man bore down on goal Hylo advanced and managed to get a hand on the ball but unfortunately could not prevent it trickling over the line. It was a 1-0 lead tha t Casta did not deserve.

Villa tried to remain positive and strike back quickly and Hugh was unlucky to see and effort strike the woodwork. Alan had a great chance at the back post but put a header narrowly wide. In the last few minutes we won a couple of free kicks. The first of them was floated into the no mans land between defence and goalkeeper but no one anticipated it and the ball ran harmlessly wide, the second free in the final minute was marginally too high for Stretch who got his head to the ball but could not guide it under the cross bar.

At the end one Casta player admitted that we could/should have won about 4-0 and another that we were really unlucky not to get anything out of the game. I suppose it is easy to be magnanimous in victory but I genuinely believe they meant it and even if they didn't it was true. We were so unlucky not to come away with at least a point. Hopefully now that we have remembered to play "the Villa way" we can carry it forward to our coming games, because if we play like that we are a match for any team.