I came away from the game feeling utterly frustrated. We missed the opportunity to put them deep into trouble but that point may well be enough to keep them up. If we had played anywhere near like we can, we would have won comfortably. This is weakest Villa team I can ever remember. We played poorly for the most part but it was still enough not to lose.
There had been talk this week of the manager not being particularly happy, cheesed off with the end of season switched off feel around the place. I was hoping that a full house and buzzing atmosphere would transmit to the players. However, once the game kicked off, the charge seemed to go out of the stadium. Hard to believe how flat it became given the circumstances.
My fears about the players not being up for it came true. We didn't press, happy in the knowledge that Villa would just give it us without the extra effort required to win it ourselves. When we did have it we played lazy short passes to players tightly marked rather than into space and we then hardly busted a gut to win it back once we were mugged. It was a lazy performance from almost everone. Thankfully Villa were too awful to make the generosity count. Fair play to them though, they worked really hard for their point. Short of quality they may be but Villa fans surely must have appreciated the effort. The undbridled joy at the end from them seemed to confirm that.
Second half was a tad better but it wasn't until MAF came on that we looked like a team. I felt he should have started anyway, we are far better team with him in it. Long and Odemwingie simply cannot play together despite Roy believing that they can. It unbalances us. It takes away their individual strengths. Its bloody pointless. I also felt it was a game for Scharner. Horses for courses and all that. He has been excellent for us in derbies and he would have been a better option than Dorrans yesterday once Roy insisted once again to play it 442.
In the end it was a game dominated by two keepers. The only real quality on show from either side. Foster continued his fantastic form, he looks almost unbeatable at the moment. Given rolled back the years with an outstanding stop at the death. A save similar to the one that Kuszczak made at Wigan a few years back.
Despite the excitement of the last 15 minutes, overall it was a let down. A missed opportunity. Bragging rights have been rare down the years and a win yesterday would have been devastating for them. But we took the foot off their throat. Finishing above them is sweet, rare enough in my lifetime, but it didn't seem enough on the walk back to the car. I wanted the ever lasting pain of Brendon Batson's backpass wiped away. I wanted Stanley bloody Collymore to feel the excruciating agony that he inflicted on us and to give him a Twitter visit to ask how it feels. Alas, it wasn't to be.
Still feels good to be top dogs of West Midlands football though. I can almost feel some of my unhealthy bitterness melting away.