Villa 0 City 1 (Carling Cup 3)
Who would have thought it? I would have put money on City being beaten by a considerable margin, if I were a betting woman, so this result was both surprising and welcome. I travelled to the game by train and when I bought my ticket at New Street for Aston the ticket seller (who was a West Brom supporter) said he hoped we beat them. My reply was that it was extremely unlikely, but how wrong can you be?
I wasn’t at Charlton but saw the goals on television and was not impressed by the defensive lapses, but the different line-up, with three centre backs, was an enormous improvement. The newspaper reports singled out N’Gotty and McAuley as the heroes of the defence but, while not denying the excellent game they both had, I was particularly impressed by Kisnorbo. He seemed to epitomise the spirit of the team, determined to win every ball and equally determined not to allow Villa any sniff of a goal. The other change was bringing Stearman back into defence, allowing Chambers to push up more, which he did very effectively.
The longer the game went on the more it seemed that one goal would settle it and also that City were in with a real chance of getting that goal. And so it proved, and didn’t Fryatt take it well? (Or was it that new player at Forest, Fyatt!) I thought he had delayed too long but he obviously knew what he was doing and slotted home coolly. It was nice to see the Hume-Fryatt partnership in operation again and they seemed just as effective as any other combination tried so far this season.
However, without wishing to take anything away from City I have to say that Villa were woeful; were I a supporter I would be seriously worried about relegation. Was this really the same team that beat Chelsea recently? Apparently there were six changes but I can’t believe Martin O’Neill would ever want to achieve less than a win – indeed he has said as much – and Barry has been quoted as saying it was the worst he had felt after a match, under their new manager…