Look Back: Villa 1 City 2, Division One, 01/04/90

89/90 was very much a season of two halves. The first (ish), under Mel Machin, had yielded only four league wins in sixteen, three of them, strangely, very handsome victories, including the infamous 5-1 mauling of them lot. The second, under Howard Kendall, saw us lose only five of twenty-two, leading to us escaping the dreaded drop by a whopping five points.

Despite Kendall having quickly turned us into a more solid outfit with the signings of the likes of Peter Reid, and with the goals of Mark Ward, we went into this game only a point clear of the relegation zone, and with this the start of three consecutive away trips. As it happens, we went on to secure sixteen points from the following eighteen, but this was undoubtedly the result that gave the players the confidence to go into those games with their heads up. Villa, lest not forget, were clear at the summit and with a decent chance of only their first title in eighty years.

We started the game, in a peculiar combination of home and away kits, quite positively, with Mark Ward & David White both having good attempts at goal. Peter Reid, terrier-like in the midfield, and Clive Allen, dropping deep to create, both playing very well. It was Villa, however, who scored first. The gigantically-foreheaded David Platt picking up the ball after some good work by Cascarino and Olney, turning us twice before laying the ball back for Gordon Cowans to smash home.

We always looked in the game, though, having plenty of possession in the middle and putting the home side under pressure, and after stopping a Villa break in the midfield we got the ball to Mark Ward who gave the defender the shoulder and belted a left-footed shot into the top corner from just outside the box, admittedly with the aid of a slight deflection. This would be the first of several important goals he'd score that season. From there on in, despite Villa looking good on the counter with the likes of flying winger Tony Daley, we always looked like winning. It just felt like one of those days where things were meant to be; the sun was out, we had a big away following there, the TV cameras were present, if i remember rightly, and we seemed to be getting the run of the ball.

In the second half we continued to create chances. Clive Allen hit the bar from a flicked-on corner, David White had an effort or two, it felt like something was coming. It did arrive after a ball was swept out from the right-back position, into Ward who floated a ball over to the left-wing for White to chase. He cut in onto his favoured right peg and smashed a ball against the post which luckily fell at the feet of Peter Reid, who made no mistake for his first City goal to wrap up a much-deserved and vital victory.

Dibble, Lake, Harper, Redmond, Hendry, Reid, Ward, White, Allen, Quinn, Megson
Subs: Brightwell, Heath.

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