With the Holte End packed and Villa’s Premier League status on the line, fans were given reason to sing loudly and proudly in the opening minute when Agbonlahor made a break down the left, escaping former Villa player Davies, and found Albrighton in the penalty area. ‘Super Marc’ missed his kick then poked the ball through to Westwood, who capitalised on some dodgy defending with a clinical curled finish.
The Villans showed lots of spirit and could have added to their early lead.
After twenty-third minutes, Agbonlahor had to be replaced due to a knee injury, despite his valiant attempt to continue, and there was much sighing when Bowery entered the field of play as his replacement.
Five minutes later, a crafty disguised free kick from Huddlestone dazed the Villa defence and as Rosenior, who was clearly offside, crossed the ball in it was deflected into the net off Bowery.
Huddlestone came close to giving his side the lead but Guzan did well to turn his shot around the post.
The Villans continued to press and Harper denied Weimann with a splendid one-handed save before tipping Bowery’s header over the bar.
With less than five minutes of the first half remaining, the Villans regained the lead when Baker’s header came back off the crossbar for Weimann to nod in from very close range. The Austrian, who has received a lot of abuse online from Villa fans of late, upset some of the Villa faithful when he ran towards them and made the sarcastic gesture of cupping his ear as he celebrated scoring for the first time since January.
Play was then held up due to an injury to Chester, which led to Bruce replacing him.
Deep in injury time, four minutes after scoring his first, Weimann made the most of Bowery’s chipped cross and bagged his brace as his athletic leap and skilful header beat Harper.
Weimann had a chance to score his hat-trick early in the second half but his effort from the right side of the box was too high.
Following his nightmare start, Bowery looked surprisingly lively and forced Harper to save his right-footed effort in the bottom corner of the net after fifty-one minutes.
The industrious Albrighton had a chance to get on the score sheet after fifty-seven minutes but his shot went high and wide.
Two minutes late, Bowery troubled Harper again, as his rising drive forced a stretching save.
With fifteen minutes left on the clock, Guzan had to get down low to hold Huddlestone’s attempt from the edge of the box.
El Ahmadi then replaced Albrighton after seventy-six minutes before Weimann made way for Bacuna six minutes later.
In truth, the second half was much less entertaining than the first and Weimann’s double blow had effectively tamed the Tigers. The game petered out and all that remained was for Aston Villa Football Club to wish their opponents well at Wembley, where they face Arsenal in the FA Cup final in a fortnight’s time, and for the players to perform the traditional ‘lap of appreciation’.
Lambert, speaking post-match, was clearly relieved to have won and all but secured Villa’s Premier League status, saying:
“I thought we were excellent. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in some really big games and that was right up there. The pressure of that was incredible but I thought we were excellent, I really did.
We lost Gabby really early doors as well, which was a blow, but I thought Bowery came on and he was excellent for us. With that performance, I thought we thoroughly deserved to win the game.
They were excellent, which I had a feeling they would be. They played a huge part – that was proper support behind us.”
The pressure has been lifted and fans can now enjoy the final two games of the 2013-14 campaign before dissecting another season of struggle.