The first half between Villa and Rotherham Saturday afternoon was controlled for the most part by Steve Bruce’s men. Villa’s afternoon almost got off to the perfect start less than a minute in when Jonathan Kodjia went over in the penalty box, but his appeals for a spot kick were waved way. Villa continued to press, as Bikir Bjarnason had a series of close-range efforts blocked, and Conor Hourihane had a goal ruled offside. Later, Albert Adomah broke through the Rotherham back line to find himself one-on-one with the keeper, but elected to unsuccessfully shoot instead of squaring the ball for the waiting Jonathan Kodjia. A few minutes later, Bikir Bjarnason went off injured to be replaced by Jack Grealish on the left wing, but Grealish himself only lasted a short period of time before picking up a knock, forcing Steve Bruce to make another change in the form of Jordan Amavi to replace Grealish.
As the first half came to its eventual conclusion, Rotherham began to assert themselves on the match. A corner was cleared off the line by Jonathan Kodjia, but Rotherham still failed to force Sam Johnstone into any notable saves. Albert Adomah had a looping effort cleared off the line as the first half concluded, but both teams headed into halftime goalless.
The second half got underway with neither side showing any real impetus. Villa controlled more of the possession that Rotherham and produced a series of corners and dangerous crosses into the box, but no clear-cut opportunities fell to a player in claret and blue in the opening exchanges. Villa found the goal they needed in the 68th minute courtesy of a Rotherham own goal. Jonathan Kodjia blazed down the right wing and fizzed a dangerous ball across goal, at which point it was bundled over the line by a Rotherham defender. Villa didn’t let up after the goal - Rotherham’s defense continued to look shaky and Conor Hourihane forced the Rotherham keeper into two good saves to stop the Irishman from doubling Villa’s advantage. Hourihane then found himself through on goal just minutes later, but his dragged shot for the far post was pulled just wide.
Following Hourihane’s missed opportunity, Rotherham started to put Villa under some real pressure. While they failed to fashion any direct opportunities on goal, the ball was bouncing in and around the Villa box for a period of time that was far longer than it should have been. However, with Rotherham pressing so hard for an equalizer, they left themselves vulnerable at the back to a Villa counter, and counter Villa did. Who else but Jonathan Kodjia, instrumental to Villa’s attack the whole afternoon, picked the ball up at the edge of the Rotherham goal and cooly gave Villa some breathing room in the 87th minute.
Saturday’s performance was far from a beautiful victory, but it was comfortable for the most part. Villa looked assured at the back, with even Sam Johnstone beginning to look competent in Steve Bruce’s side. The midfield, especially Conor Hourihane, had noticeable impacts in both protecting the back line and threatening the Rotherham goal going forward. Up front, Jonathan Kodjia and Albert Adomah continue to be a menacing duo. The mold for this victory is a model easily repeatable for Villa, and hopefully this form continues as the season draws to a close.