Festive football! I love it, you love it, we all love it. In June when the football fixtures are released, the first thing you always check is the opening and closing games of the season, then the home and away derby fixtures (in my case Oldham Althletic and Bury) but then you check if you will be attending a home Boxing Day fixture or travelling to a team in an apparent, two hour driving radius.
Fortunately for me Rochdale were at home in EFL League 1 against Chesterfield, unfortunately for me I was spending Christmas in the Midlands so I was going to miss the match anyway. This was a welcome excuse for me though to grouphop to a new '92 club' and there were only two left to complete in the area, West Brom and Aston Villa, with the latter playing at home.
For £25 I was able to secure a front row, half way seat and for the three weeks leading up to the game I was excited to experience the Holte End noise, the 40 minute drive from Nuneaton and getting a buzz from scratching off the ground on my StadiumHoppers wall chart.
And at full time, I believe the 40,000 Villa supporters in attendance too, believed that Burton could do something in this division.
It must be noted however that he was on a year long goal drought, but he does play more a target man, holding the ball up and setting up others so I guess you can let him off somewhat.
It was inevitable that Aston Villa would be the first team to score, with a nice cross from the right, Bacuna jumped highest to send the ball past McLaughlin, as seen in the picture below.
Both teams made tactical changes with Burton bringing on O'Grady to once again, hold the ball up front and bring a different style of play to the game.
However Villa introduced Jordan Ayew to the mix to give another forward option for the Clarets. 3 Minutes after his introduction, Villa got a cross into the feet of Ross McCormack, who from close range buried it in the net. He too, had been on a barron goal spell since September.
Villa controlled the game to its conclusion after this, however Burton did give an excellent account of themselves and had now lost their run of 4 Boxing Day fixtures undefeated.
For me, I headed back through the Aston area, underneath the motorway concrete slabs and to my car pondering how Steve Bruce was going to improve a squad that at best, would reach the Play Offs but would be unconvincing in it if they did, in its current state.
Although the Villa squad is in a transitional state at this moment in time, their facilities and support are of Premier League quality, for them it is now a case of making sure their playing squad is too.