Guest reporter. Jordan Treveil
When Brendan Rodgers and Alec Mcleish arrived at the Liberty stadium, both managers had big decisions to make regarding player selection and tactics. Yet half an hour before kick off the pair had an even bigger decision to make. The unfortunate and tragic news of Welsh footballing legend Gary Speed's death filtered through to the heartland of Wales. Match officials immediately called an emergency meeting with the coaching staff's of both Aston Villa and Swansea City, and it was unanamously agreed that the fixture would go ahead. The decision couldn't have been made lightly as many of the players knew Speedo 42, so well. Ashley Williams,Neil Taylor,Joe Allen and James Collins had all built a strong relationship with Speed when just as early as this year, Speed was announced as the coach of the Welsh national football team.
Game time arrived and both sets of players made their way out onto the pitch. As a supporter, there was an immediate sour taste in my mouth, The death of one of Wales finest had clearly affected the atmosphere. Chants of there's only one Gary Speed rang out, synchronised by both sets of supporters. The stadium announcer then called for a minutes silence to be held, yet both sets of supporters had another idea. Every man,woman and child stood and applauded the life of Gary Speed in an act of total respect. It was too much for some. The popularity of Speed was displayed when members of the crowd were moved too tears. The lasting image of the day had to be the tears pouring down the face of Speed's former team mate Shay Given. That image moved me, and left a lump in my throat.
As for the game, two changes were made from the debacle that was Monday night. Fabian Delph and winger Charles Nzogbia replaced Spaniard Carlos Cuellar and the injured Stan Petrov. The 1st half followed suit from Monday night in the posession stakes. Swansea's 70% to the villans 30% was again telling of the performance. Yet it was Villa who carved out the only effort in the 1st half when the rapid Gabriel Agbonlahor cut in from the left flank, and from the edge of the box struck a shot, forcing Michel Vorm into parrying the ball frantically away from the danger zone. The passing style was similar to recent weeks..... There wasnt one! The renowned "HOOF" ball to Heskey was the order of the day. The second half could only get better!
And to be fair to Villa it did. Dunne and Collins were much more patient with the ball at their feet, Alan Hutton and Stephen Warnock joined in on attacks, and Fabian Delph and Joey Barton check Chris Herd got a foothold of the midfield. Villa's Striker come winger Agbonlahor again cut in from the left flank, and drilled a ferocious shot goalwards, which forced an unorthodox save from the Vorm, whose blushes were saved when he just about spilled the ball over the crossbar. Barry Bannan and Jermaine Jenas made promising cameos, helping Villa get the ball down and the look for a killer ball for the England hitman Darren Bent. Yet it was Swansea, in particular sub striker Leroy Lita who almost snatched the 3 points for the Swans. His first effort displayed great strength to roll James Collins, only for his left foot shot to agonisingly go inches wide of the bottom left hand post. Then again in the dying stages a quick one-two at the edge of villa's penalty area let Lita in one on one, only to be thwarted by the emotional Shay Given.
In conclusion there were many improvements from Mondays game, in particular the backline. Gabriel Agbonlahor was the clear MOTM, however know one can deny the game was overshadowed by the news of Gary Speed. RIP SPEEDO
Match report courtesy of Jordan Treveil