On Saturday 23rd January 2010 I visited Villa Park for the first ever time to watch them Aston Villa play Brighton and Hove Albion in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Today was my first time at this world famous football stadium. Villa Park has been host to many great matches, including FA Cup Semi Finals, International matches and more recent in everybody’s memory the 6-4 win against Blackburn in the Carling Cup semi final.
It was the third match of the FA Cup we had seen this year, the first being Hallam v Burscough in the first qualifying round and the second being Stockport County v Tooting and Mitcham in Round 1.
We approached the ground about an hour before kick off to buy tickets, a programme and then take some photos outside. The stand that really stood out from the outside of the ground was the Holte End which is one of the largest behind the goal stands in Europe. It’s outside was all made of bricks with huge steps leading up and a sign saying Aston Villa at the top.
We had decided to sit in the top tier of the Trinity Road stand. We were quite high up, however no where near as high as Newcastle was, and we had a good view of the game. Villa got off to a quick start, forcing the Brighton keeper to make a save in the first minute and then scoring in the 6th minute as Marc Albrighton put the ball across the 6 yard box and Nathan Delfouneso despatched the chance with ease much to the delight of most of the 39,725 fans.
Brighton were not disheartened by this early set back and continued to have chances, but the class of the premiership side looked too good at times for their league 1 opposition. Brighton however levelled just before the break when Tommy Elphick poked the ball into the net after it had been scrambled around the area.
At half time we went down to the bottom of the higher tier to get some good photos of the inside of the ground, which can be seen below, before re-taking our seats for the second half.
Villa didn’t wait long to regain their lead, just 3 minutes into the second half Ashley Young headed home from Stewart Downing’s cross. It was 3-1 just after the hour mark when Delph did brilliantly to beat two defenders and then slot it past the keeper. Delfouneso, scorer of the first goal, came very close to make it 4-1 but his thunderbolt smashed the post.
Brighton made it a nervy ending though courtesy of Nicky Forster’s 90th minute goal, but the villains managed to hold on and book their place in the 5th round of the cup.
After the match we went and had a look in the club shop as we hadn’t had time before the game and as we were getting off I noticed Stephen Warnock and Stuart Downing coming out of Villa Park so I got them both to sign my programme.