Garreth Barry was greeted with boos as the teams took the pitch at Villa Park, while longtime City skipper Richard Dunne looked unfamiliar in claret and blue.
Villa got off to a flying start testing the city defense early. This eventually led to a great goal in the air, from guess who? Richard Dunne, who else? Dunne was ironically marked by Garreth Barry for whom boos and flashes of fifty pound notes showered all night.
Perhaps the greatest player City has featured this decade, who never wanted to leave the club came back and bit Gary Cook and Mark Hughes in the rear end.
Dunne’s classy non goal celebration was a stark reminder to City supporters of the man and leader we lost this August. City threatened to equalize late in the first half, but American keeper Brad Friedel was up to the task saving a good effort from Adebayor on goal.
The City midfield failed to control the first half the way they had controlled the opening half of City’s last several fixtures. Garreth Barry, in particular was poor on the ball. Whether his performance was related to the crowd or not is immaterial.
Mark Hughes tactical change shortly after the half time break to bring on Stephan Ireland for Nigel DeJong failed to stem the tide of the match: in fact it gave Villa more space for counter attacking.
Jolean Lescott’s nightmare City start continued in this match, as his multi million pound transfer continues to bewilder even the most sympathetic observer. City had the option of bring Slyvian Distan back to Eastlands or to keep Dunne, but choose to pay top dollar for a player whose quality has been in short supply since arriving.
Craig Bellamy’s goal while a great piece of play by Ireland, Adebayor and Bellamy was undeserved based on the run of the match to that point. But the mark of a Top four contender is the ability to score goals and survive in matches when far from your best.
The result was harsh for a far superior Villa side, but it could prove to be an important point earned for City.