The official hashtag for this game, #AVLCRY, didn’t bode well. Given how much heartbreak we’ve suffered this season, I think most Villans were expecting this match to bring further tears. Despite a recent slackening in form, Crystal Palace were bringing the league’s best on-the-road defense to Villa Park and a team with the lowest home scoring record in English league soccer with, if memory serves, 6 home goals this season.
Also a team that hadn’t won in 19 games.
But we won! We won, we won, WE WON! Sure, the goal itself was an absolute goalkeeping howler that is likely to haunt Hennessey to his grave, but the three points are ours and nobody can take them away from us. Only 21 games played and we’re finally in double digits! What’s better is that Villa truly deserved the win. Yes, Palace created a couple of very nice chances, one of them with less than a minute played, but on balance, Villa had more possession, better passing, and, while the final ball still let them down too many times, did genuinely look like scoring more often. They played with heart and commitment and finally held a lead to the end.
A chance in hell? We’ll take it.
Kozak put in a great shift, Ayew had a man-of-the-match performance, Lescott was strong in defense, and little Carles Gil even knocked someone over. No, I don’t suddenly believe we’re not going to be relegated, but to watch the first win since the first day of the season was an utter relief. (Too bad I was watching alone!) Having gotten the monkey off their backs, dare we dream that Villa can go on to win a third game?
We’ll still go down, but if we can go down fighting, we’ll be able to hold our heads up and at least salvage some viewing pleasure from what is surely going to go down in the books as the worst season in Villa’s history. And if we can possibly win two in a row, maybe the players that are snubbing Villa during the transfer window might think there’s a chance in hell that they can be part of a miraculous comeback.
Unfortunately, our next game is against Leicester, who, despite a slight lapse in recent form, remain in second place—and first place in the away form table.
But a chance in hell? Right now, we’ll take it. It’s not like we’ve got any choice.