Villa fans have been crying out for it for almost 2 and a half seasons now; and 5 defensive midfielders, 4 left backs, 2 centre halves, 1 right back and a reserve goalie in a pear tree later, Lambert finally starts a game with a decent creative midfielder and guess what? The midfielders look like midfielders should look. Heck, Weimann could almost pass for a midfielder. Agbonlahor looked like a forward and the quick nippy passing was at times a joy to watch.
Sure, Burnley played with 3 midfielders and had to work extra hard to keep Villa in check, but despite that being almost a perfect match up for Villa it was still good to see Joe Cole on the ball. He had Burnley defenders perplexed as his movement and step overs threw them off. They never got near the ball when Cole had it for almost the entire first half.
The confidence surged through the side and good set pieces from Westwood saw two shots from Okore and Clarke hit Burnley man Marney both times with the keeper beaten.
Burnley counter attacked well also and Sanchez was lucky a couple of times after playing the team into trouble with no safety net behind him.
The home side crept into the game keeping Villa pinned back when it got control of the ball and saw a shot also blocked that could have gone in.
The new ref on his Premiership debut did not ingratiate himself to the home supporters when he booked Kightly for a professional foul on Hutton having let Cleverly go for the same thing minutes earlier after more bad work by Sanchez.
Tempers began to get hot and a flurry of cards came out and it looked like it was going to be a tough task to keep 22 players on the pitch. Clarke over reacted when Marney came in late on him grabbing the culprit around the neck. The ref came over quickly to separate the two, but only gave Marney the card. While Burnley were still focused on the injustice Villa struck. Guzans’s free kick was headed back by a Burnley defender and Weimann latched on putting a patiently timed ball through to COLE who steered the ball past Heaton.
Burnley hit back hard Ings brought out the best in Guzan while a Barnes effort hit the post, but replays showed he hit the ball with his palm earning him a booking.
Either the Villa players didn’t understand Lamberts half time mumbling or his instructions were to get everyone behind the ball and pass to Burnley players. To be fair, Villa were forced into a lot of errors as Burnley worked hard to close Villa down and keep Cole in check. It began to look like Villa would wear down, then Burnley made a double substitution and after a minute a super free kick was just missing somebody to finish it off and a shot prior to that Clarke cleared off the line after Guzan slowed Ing’s shot.
Villa switched Cole for Grealish and the youngster had an immediate impact doing the things Cole had done in the first half. Villa took control of the game again for the next 20 minutes and seemed in control when manager Dyche made his final sub. Wallace lifted the home team and Villa went back on defence.
Okore made a rare mistake getting on the wrong side of his man and brought down the substitute Jutkiewicz and the ref gave a penalty. INGS crashed his shot down the middle for 1-1. Moments later Ings hit the post after a great run.
As the clock wound down, Burnley got stronger and two more near misses kept Villa in it. Finally Grealish was one on one with Heaton but the keeper save his volley, which lacked any real composure. It would have been a welcome but undeserved one.
So Lambert could have pointed to one record had he picked up the win. Villa have not won a league game on Turf moor in forever. My Dad was less than a year old when Villa last achieved it. Instead Villa move to 1 goal in the 19 second halves as another milestone.
While Sean Dyche enthusiastically prompted his players, tweaked tactics throughout the game, Lambert’s instructions were a lot more muted and changes in tactics never happened.
Next trip to bottom of league Leicester, where I think Villa will actually score 2 goals in a game yet grab another draw out of the jaws of victory.