Deeney’s late win­ner rubs salt into Villa’s gap­ing wounds

The Daily Telegraph - Total Football - - TOTAL FOOTBALL/BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE - By Jon Cul­ley at Villa Park

It is hard to imag­ine a worse end to a match for an As­ton Villa sup­porter than to have a Birm­ing­ham City sup­porter in the visi­tors’ ranks score the win­ning goal right in front of the Holte End.

Troy Deeney’s header in the 85th minute left Villa, sit­ting bot­tom of the ta­ble, seven points be­low the safety of 17th place in the Premier League. Only three times have a team ac­crued as few points from their open­ing 14 matches as Villa’s five. All three – Swin­don in 1993-94, Sun­der­land in 2005-06 and Queens Park Rangers three years ago – were rel­e­gated, so the out­look for Rémi Garde’s team is clearly not good.

It might be ask­ing a lot, then, for Villa supporters to share the view that Deeney’s story is as much an in­spi­ra­tion as the for­mer fac­tory worker Jamie Vardy’s rise to Premier League record-breaker with Le­ices­ter City. Deeney might have been a Villa player had he not been more in­ter­ested in chas­ing girls than at­tend­ing a trial at the club as a teenager. “My brother was the foot­baller – he was at Villa from age six to 20 – but I was more one of the lads,” Deeney said. “It was meant to be four days. I turned up for the game on the last day but I wasn’t really in­ter­ested.”

There would be an­other chance, though. Hav­ing spot­ted him play­ing for his lo­cal team, Chelm­s­ley Town, Wal­sall of­fered him a con­tract in 2006 and sub­se­quently sold him to Wat­ford, where his 81 league goals have put him among the top six Hor­nets marks­men of all time. Satur­day’s was his fourth in the Premier League, all of which have come in the past five matches.

It has not been a fairy tale – Deeney spent three months in jail in 2012 af­ter get­ting into a fight in Birm­ing­ham city cen­tre – but he in­sists he is a re­formed char­ac­ter and re­flected on Satur­day’s “dream goal” and the in­evitable re­ac­tion from the Villa fans with a cer­tain seren­ity. “Ev­ery­one knows I’m from Birm­ing­ham and that’s why they were giv­ing me a lovely re­cep­tion,” he said. “When we were run­ning the clock down in the last 10 min­utes I got quite a lot of grief. But it’s good fun.”

True to his roots, Deeney had planned a re­union with his old mates – Vil­lains and Bluenoses – back at Chelm­s­ley Town on Satur­day evening. “I’ve had some Villa fans mes­sage me pri­vately, say­ing ‘ to­day we’re not friends’,” he said.

“If I didn’t score and they won it would have been a bad week­end for me. In­stead I scored and we won so it’ll be a bad week­end for them. But we will go back to the pub now and they will prob­a­bly all buy me a beer, to be fair.”

A small part of him even hopes Villa some­how beat the odds and stay up, but only a small part. “Hope­fully they can pick up but if they don’t I’m not go­ing to be cry­ing, let’s put it that way,” he said.

Deeney’s goal came af­ter Odion Ighalo had given Wat­ford first blood, can­celled out by Micah Richards be­fore half-time. An Alan Hut­ton own goal re­stored Wat­ford’s ad­van­tage be­fore Deeney stretched it to 3-1 ahead of Jor­dan Ayew’s late con­so­la­tion for Villa.

Villa boss Garde said: “With ev­ery game we do not win it be­comes more and more dif­fi­cult.”

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