After a frantic final day in the transfer window yesterday it was back to business in the Premier League as the R's looked to carry on where they left off against Wigan and pick up points against a Villa side that has got an awful home record.
The Lofty Heights gang were there in fine voice.
Having been in a meeting with my boss this morning, who is a Villa fan, I was hoping that the trip that myself, Jess, Sam and Luke were going to take to Birmingham was going to be worth our while and hopefully give me some bragging rights when I returned to work on Friday.
In Jenson's car was Lofty, Smithy and Trevor and they arrived shortly after we did just past 6ish and headed to the Witton Arms, were they met Iceman and enjoyed a few of the beverages on offer there.
With the long day that myself and Lofty had yesterday chasing transfers and trying to keep up to date with all the transfers, it was nice to return to the football and look forward to potentially having three debutants with Onuoha, Taiwo and Cisse all signing before the cut off point of midday yesterday, we will have to wait for Zamora until Saturday and then Diakite when he returns from the African Cup of Nations along with Armand Traore and Adel Taarabt.
Having knowledge that Djibril Cisse has scored on every debut he has played in, the 8/1 price for first goalscorer was too good for most people to turn down and the bookies surely praying that he didn't otherwise they could be in for losing a lot of money by the end of the 90 minutes.
We stood on the freezing cold Villa Park concourse trying our best to keep warm in the sub zero temperatures awaiting the team news.
There were five changes to the side which played Chelsea on Saturday. Onuoha, Taiwo and Cisse all made their debuts, Derry and Hulse also stepped in. Missing out were Hill, Hall, Buzsaky, Smith and Helguson.
The opening ten minutes started as a tense affair as both teams looked to settle into the game.
The deadlock was broken in the 12th minute as Cisse hit a right foot volley into the bottom left hand corner after Wright-Phillips had played him in despite having his initial shot blocked. Chaotic celebrations followed the goal as the R's found a new hero chanting his name and welcoming Cisse to the club. Me, Jess, Sam, Luke and Jenson all won a lot of money because of our new hero.
Referee Neil Swarbrick then decided to take matters into his own hands as he gave Aston Villa countless numbers of dodgy decisions in their favour whilst allowing the R's players to be kicked up in the air. Swarbrick controversially sent of Joey Barton against Norwich in January and once again it looked like he wanted to grab the headlines with his poor refereeing, much to the disgust of the R's travelling support. The complete boased refereeing against us against Norwich and once again in this game has earned him a new nickname, Swarprick!
Despite all this the R's went into a 2-0 lead on the half hour mark after a good passing move allowing Taiwo on the left and his far post cross was met by Stephen Warnock who expertly directed his header into the bottom left hand corner leaving Given with no chance. Cue rapturous celebrations as the R's fans were living in a Sparky wonderland.
Shortly after the second goal Kieran Clark's shot deflected off Robbie Keane and hit the corner of the post to give R's their first real scare of the half. Surely you'd have thought this would have been a wake up call.
As it was the R's fell asleep just before half time as Darren Bent poked the ball home from 6 yards out giving Villa a reprieve before half time.
At half time me and Jess went down to join the rest of the gang at the front of the stand and took our place for the second half. Lofty was sporting an unusual choice of fashion accessory on his head which certainly raised a few eyebrows within the group. His head was warm so you couldn't really critisise.
Just before half time Trevor went to the toilet and missed Bent's goal but despite being informed of this it still took him 10 minutes of the second half to realise it was 2-1. Much to the amusement of everyone.
The R's became increasingly frustrated as it became harder to carve out chances against a now resolute Villa defence.
Villa begun to press Rangers deeper into their own half whilst keeping the ball in midfield creating spaces for their more creative players. This limited the effectiveness of the R's break aways as Cisse began to drift out of the game.
Mackie had a golden oppurtunity to restore the R's two goal lead as Wright-Phillips crossed in from the right to find Mackie on the edge of the six yard box who in turn swung his right foot at it, completely missing the ball in the process, hitting his standing leg and watching the ball dribble out for a goal kick.
Mark Hughes slowly began to ring the changes as Hulse was replaced by Smith and Ephraim came on in the place of Derry. The changes had no real effect as Villa continued to press deeper into the R's half and in the 79th minute they got their reward. Petrov crossed from the right which floated over Luke Young's head and Charles N'Zogbia was there to fire home with a left foot drive and finally create some atmosphere from the home fans as the boo's turned into cheers.
Cisse was promptly replaced by Macheda in an attempt to freshen things up and give the Villa defenders something new to worry about.
Villa continued to create changes but to no avail as the game drew to a close.
At the start of the game most fans would have taken a draw but having put in a good opening 44 minutes many were left going home frustrated having not taken all three points.
Cisse looked lively and his pace threatened the Villa defence on countless occasions and his link up play with Hulse made it look as though they'd played together a lot longer than just one day.
Onuoha had a promising debut and looked solid throughout the game showing no real weakness. He could prove to be a bargain at 3 million pounds.
Taiwo did not look defensively astute but going forward he posed a threat on more than one occasion. Hopefully once he gets a few more games under his belt and gets match fitness we'll begin to see the kinds of performances that have led to him having a great reputation like he did in France.
Tonight we were not as defensively solid as a unit as we have been in our previous games against Wigan and Chelsea, this could be down to two new signings introduced to the back four, but once they gain familiarity with eachother then we should see the kind of defence that might be able to play out more clean sheets than we've seen so far this season. Attacking wise we looked a lot more promising and with Zamora still to come into the team on Saturday we should look like more of an attacking force and scare many more defences before the end of the season.
I'll finish the summary with the referee. If this man is ever allowed to referee at this level or in any other games that involve us then I will wonder what we have done to deserve it. Cisse and Wright-Phillips were kicked up in the air on a number of occasions by the Villa defenders and its unbelievable that only THREE fouls were given against Villa during the entire game, it could've easily been treble that! Having said that he did fail to award Villa with two blatant handballs in the second half and the opportunity to equalize earlier than what they did.Man of the Match
now. The group were split between two candidates for this one. Firstly with three votes is captain Joey Barton. He put in a real shift in at the heart of the midfield, if only his set pieces and corners went further than the near post! The winner today with four votes is the debutant and money winner for many of us today Djibril Cisse
. He worked tirelessly up front, his pace really scared the Villa defenders and once he is match fit he will be a massive handful and a real asset to our football club.
The gang parted company upon the exit of Villa Park and went their separate ways but missing one person..... Trevor. Trevor went to the toilet after the game and did not re-appear as the gang went their separate ways, so if anyone finds Trevor can you point him in the direction of West London!Aston Villa:
Given, Hutton, Cuellar, Dunne, Warnock, Petrov, Clark (Bannan 70), Ireland, Keane, N'Zogbia, Bent.Subs:
Guzan, Weimann, Baker, Lichaj, Heskey, Gardner.Goals:
Bent (45), N'Zogbia (79)QPR:
Kenny, Derry (Ephraim 73), Mackie, Barton, Young, Hulse (Smith 54), Cisse (Macheda 81), Wright-Phillips, Taiwo, Ferdinand, Onuoha.Subs:
Cerny, Hill, Hall, Ephraim, Balanta.Goals:
Cisse (12), Warnock (OG 29)Bookings:
Mr N SwarbrickAttendance: