Competition: English Premier League

Date: 24 February 2024

Result: Aston Villa 4 – 2 Nottingham Forest

Tickets:  £42 for adults, £15.50 concession.

Attendance: circa 42,000

Game/ Experience Rating:  ☆☆☆☆

The Game: My first game at Villa Park in what is arguably the best season in Aston Villa’s modern history (I’d certainly argue the best in the 00s), following my tradition of trying to make at least one a year. This was a fantastic game in parts. Villa are seriously weakened in defence (they finished this game with the fifth and sixth choice centre backs on the pitch), but so fiery going forward.

At the heart of that are the immensely effective Watkins, and Leon Bailey, who has gone from looking a bit of a flop briefly, to one of the outstanding attacking players in the league. The strings are pulled by Douglas Luiz, who is frankly one of the best players I’ve ever seen in claret and blue. An almost flawless first half saw Bailey shred Forest as Villa went into a 3-0 lead.

When it got back to 3-2, the Villa of a couple of years ago would have gone on to lose. Instead, they stabalised their position with a 4-2 win and continue to heap the pressure on Tottenham and Man United when it comes to Champions League places. The cheers around the ground when United’s loss to Fulham at home was announced was something else.

The ground:  Obviously as a Villa fan I love Villa Park, and it’s with some concern that I’ve watched the recent stuff around extension being cancelled (there are some rumours it might relate to a move to a more modern facility, which I don’t think many Villa fans would be in favour of, despite the current difficulty getting tickets).

I sat in the North Stand for the first time in years, right in the very back row, and to be honest it didn’t have the atmosphere I’ve got used to down there, so that was a bit of a let down, and I’ll be moving back to either the Holte to the Doug Ellis next time around given half the chance. Still such a pleasure to drop by, of course.

Extras: I love the old programmes around the place alongside the matchday ones at Villa Park. I found one from a game against Dynamo Bucharest in 1983, describing in details elements of the 1982 European Cup win I’d never heard about, which made for great pre-match reading. A Balti Pie seems to have become something else these days, which is a shame because of childhood memories from the Trinity. Still my favourite ground to go to anywhere, though.

Assorted asides: I went to this game feeling pretty terrible – still getting over a nasty dose of the flu, which meant it a tough task to climb the North Stand and also that I spent almost the whole day sat around in coffee shops writing and reading, rather than my usual exploration of Birmingham. I did find a little pin from my only ever Villa away game, though, vs Hamburg in 2008, so I have nice a little souvenir anyway.

My totals for the year so far:

Games: 1. Home wins: 1 Draws: 0 Away wins: 0

Goals: 6. Home goals: 4. Away goals: 2. Goals per game: 6



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