Post-mortem and mission accomplished: Aston Villa at Bolton

I had to rush out yesterday after the match so have missed a lot of the comment after the match but no doubt there was relief - anything other than three points yesterday would have been a little embarrassing and it was needed.

Fortunately we got three points from a moment of brilliance. Take the moment of brilliance away and it could very well have been 0-0 and that was the difference yesterday.

What the Papers Say

Dave Hadfield, Independent
A coolly taken early goal by Ashley Young was enough to sustain Villa's stuttering challenge for fourth place against a Bolton side still not certain of Premier League survival.
Tim Rich, Observer
This victory, as scrappy as the brawl that followed the final whistle, was more of a slapped-on Elastoplast rather than some carefully applied stitching. Aston Villa still look unconvincing candidates for the Champions League, although it remains within their compass.

The Manager

Martin O'Neill, Club site
I think the players were determined to put it right here and it was a great reaction. I couldn't have guaranteed winning the game but I know the players were determined to put things right.

The Players and No Stats

Big Brad, King Carlos, Ricardo Dunne, The Ginger One, Stephen Warnock, Stewart Downing, Webcam, Fabian Delph (Steve Sidwell, 75), Stiliyan Petrov, Gabby Agbonlahor and John Carew (Emile Heskey, 70) all had a part to play and they did okay. They were cautious and exact and they did exactly what they had to do.

No statistics again. You don't need to be an ex-footballer to see that yesterday was different and all the statistics will show is caution and comfort. We played a side that was 15th in the league and yes all matches are difficult in this league, but 15th.

Man of the Match

I voted for Mr Fabulous but 59% of you opted for Webcam. He did okay yesterday and the goal was very good. We see him trying that a lot and it is nice to see one go in and the play that led up to the goal was very nice also. There is no reason to be surprised he got the vote yesterday. All hail the Webcam.

Final Analysis

Like I said, I had to rush out yesterday so I don't know the reaction of most but I wouldn't be surprised if it was mostly relief. There was nothing to get carried away with from the performance and the only thing they needed, for lots of reasons, was to win. Mission accomplished.

That win should help see us secure seventh place this season and will certainly help in our fight for sixth. With eighteen points still to play for, the more optimistic supporter will still believe fourth is possible and as someone that likes numbers I have to agree, but the odds of us getting fourth are getting longer every day - if Liverpool win today, they will get even longer.

Yesterday was important and now some foundation of respectability has been laid. The Chelsea result was humiliating and will not be forgotten and I am sure we will look back at that result in the future, but for this season and for this period, it is behind us. I say it is behind us, because we play Chelsea again next Saturday and we have to put the memory of what happened at Stamford Bridge out of our head or we could implode and it could happen again.

Next week is big, but I think the week after is bigger for this season as we face Everton at Villa Park and if they win today and beat us on April 14th - they would go above us.

Right - I'm going for coffee and some marmalade on toast and I'm on the scrounge for some football training equipment so expect an email if you are in a position to help.