It wasn’t pretty Saturday afternoon for long periods of time. But per usual, 3 points are 3 points, and 2-0 is always a good result.
The first half between Villa and Wigan went relatively quietly, especially for the claret and blue. Villa failed to create a single effort on goal in the first 45 minutes - Wigan didn’t do too much either, with their best opportunities coming from a poor back pass from Gary Gardner and a free kick which Sam Johnstone was equal to. Scott Hogan sat on the Villa bench in the first half as Alan Hutton occupied an attacking role, a decision that was quickly rectified by Steve Bruce in the second half when Hutton was moved back to defense and Hogan came on to partner Kodjia up front.
Gary Gardner was substituted out shortly into the second half as well after his second misdirected pass played Wigan through on goal, replaced by Henri Lansbury. The game ticked on without any real openings for either side, but Wigan was decidedly the more attacking of the two sides, putting Villa’s backline through periods of sustained pressure. Villa, despite being the lesser side throughout the first and second half, grabbed the lead in the 73rd minute through James Chester. A short corner was sent into the box, where Chester redirected the ball into the far corner to put Villa’s nose in front with just over 15 minutes to play.
After Chester’s goal, Villa shrank back into a defensive shell to try to protect their 1-0 lead. Wigan had a flurry of corner kicks which were all defended comprehensively by Johnstone, Chester, and Jedinak, and Villa’s strong defending was rewarded on the counterattack when Scott Hogan got free a few minutes later and grabbed his first goal in claret and blue to put Villa 2-0 to the good.
Saturday was a poor performance overall, especially in the first half, but Villa have learned in recent weeks how to grind out results despite otherwise poor levels of play. They can’t all be pretty, and the ugly wins are often just as important as the pretty ones. Next up for Steve Bruce and his men as they try to maintain this momentum is Norwich at Villa Park on April 1st.