Gallery: The silver linings in the gloom of Aston Villa's annus horribilis

Trinity Road Stand - Aston Villa

The Birmingham club had precious little to cheer about in an utterly miserable campaign.

For many Aston Villa fans, this season has been the biggest test of faith they have ever faced as an utterly miserable campaign unfolded at Villa Park.

After narrowly securing survival last term and reaching the FA Cup final only to get battered by Arsenal at Wembley, there were hopes that this campaign would provide better things under Tim Sherwood.

That optimism was severely tempered by the sales of Christian Benteke and captain Fabian Delph last summer, but even that was not enough to temper the hope that just maybe this might be the season in which Villa could pull away from a relegation fight.

In reality, Villa were on a crash course from virtually the first few weeks of what was, for many of the club's supporters, the most catastrophic season in memory.

Villa won just three of their 38 Premier League matches, going from early August to mid-January without a league victory, and repeating the feat from early February until the end of the season.

After Sherwood was sacked at the end of October, Remi Garde lasted barely five months as his replacement, and a host of boardroom changes came and went as the club descended into farce.

Although 2015-16 is a write-off for most supporters, this writer has taken on the unenviable task of finding some bright spots amidst the darkness.

Here, although it's not saying much, are some of the best moments from Villa's annus horribilis.

Villa's season began so promisingly, with new signing Rudy Gestede coming off the substitutes' bench to head the winner on his competitive debut for the club in a 1-0 away victory at newly-promoted Bournemouth in August. It was to be the club's last league win until 2016.

Just over a fortnight after that victory, Villa made hard work of a Capital One Cup win over Notts County, but the 5-3 after-extra-time victory did see Scott Sinclair score a hat-trick and new signing Adama Traore net his first goal for the club.

In mid-September came a clash with eventual champions Leicester City at the King Power Stadium in what would prove to be a defining match in both clubs' seasons.

 

Though Villa collapsed from 2-0 up with just 20 minutes remaining to lose 3-2 in a disastrous end to the game, the match was notable for the visitors' two superb goals, a first goal for the club for academy graduate Jack Grealish, and a fine strike from Spanish midfielder Carles Gil.

Later in September came what many Villa fans will likely label as the 'high point' of their horrible season, a 1-0 win over arch-rivals Birmingham City in the Capital One Cup at Villa Park, with Gestede again scoring the only goal of the game.

Villa's first game of 2016 was a hugely damaging 3-1 defeat at fellow strugglers Sunderland, but it at least provided a spectacular moment with Gil scoring the club's goal of the season with a stunning acrobatic volley after Traore's superb run and cross.

 

10 days later came Villa's first win since the opening day of the season as Wayne Hennessey's howler allowed a Joloen Lescott header to be the difference between Garde's side and Crystal Palace at Villa Park.

Then, a mere three weeks later, came Villa's third and final win of the season, a 2-0 victory over Norwich City which did far more damage to the Canaries than it did good for the Villans.

After that victory, 12 defeats from the club's final 13 matches - the other being a goalless draw at home to Newcastle United in the penultimate fixture - signed off on the most horrible of seasons for Villa fans.

 

In those remaining weeks, all that was left to cheer was the occasional introduction of an academy star to first-term action, with youngsters such as Andre Green, Kevin Toner, and Jordan Lyden being handed their debuts.

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