Let’s analyze the moments that defined Villa’s 2-1 win over Colchester United.
Villa 1 Colchester 0: Hogan’s Goal
Scott Hogan got his Aston Villa tally for 2017/18 off the mark in the 7th minute Wednesday night. Villa’s opening move started with Albert Adomah on the right wing, who played a smart ball to Callum O’Hare in the middle of the field, positioned smartly to take advantage of the three Colchester players Adomah dragged with him to the right sideline. After receiving Adomah’s pass, O’Hare turned forward to see Andre Green making a ferocious run down Villa’s left wing. Scott Hogan, playing alone up front, demanded the attention of both Colchester center backs, freed up the space for Andre Green to get a step on Colchester’s right back. Green touched O’Hare’s pass beyond a center back previously trying to mark Hogan, and despite Green being unable to beat Colchester’s keeper, the ball rebounded nicely to Scott Hogan who slotted into an open net with his left foot. O’Hare should be credited with playing the most important and difficult ball in Villa’s goal, but Adomah’s tricky work on the right wing and Hogan’s stretching of the Colchester backline enabled O’Hare to do so.
Villa 1 Colchester 0: Samba’s Penalty Concession
Off of kickoff, Colchester attacked down the Villa left, where a Colchester attacker chased down the ball in the corner of the Villa box. With his back to goal, he posed no immediate threat on the Villa goal, but Chris Samba clipped an ankle and Colchester were rightly awarded a penalty. Villa’s left hand side was noticeably vulnerable for the entirety of the match. Birkir Bjarnason had never started a match at left back before, and Samba was off the pace for the entire first half, repeatedly making mistakes at the back and looking physically and mentally unfit. Perhaps he is still shaking off some of rust, but he will need to improve massively to challenge Chester or Terry for their first choice status. Colchester forward Mikael Mandron stepped up to take the penalty, which was on target but a tame effort to Jed Steer’s righthand side. Nonetheless, Steer did well to go the right way, one of a collection of good moments for Steer in a rare first-time appearance.
Villa 2 Colchester 0: Bree’s Tackle and Kent’s Own Goal
Villa doubled the lead a few minutes later. James Bree went into a magnificient sliding tackle that turned into a beautiful pass for Albert Adomah. Adomah picked up the ball with acres of space on the right wing (possibly offside) after Colchester’s left back had tried to close down space for Callum O’Hare. Adomah strode towards the goal, fizzing a low ball across the face of goal that would have likely been turned in by either Scott Hogan at the front post or Andre Green at the back post, had Colchester defender Frankie Kent not lunged across the slippery surface and turned it past his own goalkeeper. A somewhat fortunate goal in the unlikely nature of Bree’s tackle-turned perfectly weighted through ball, but once again the positioning of Adomah and Hogan was calibrated to perfection.
Villa 2 Colchester 1: O’Hare’s Fluffed Clearance and Colchester's Deflection
Off of a Colchester corner kick in the 38th minute, James Chester’s headed clear of the Villa box fell to Callum O’Hare, who fluffed his chance to clear the ball and any danger accompanying it. Despite O’Hare’s overwhelmingly impressive first half up until that point, a slice of the blame for Colchester’s goal falls at his feet. After failing to make any substantial contact, the ball fell to Colchester’s Kyel Reid, who launched an improbable initial shot that would likely have not caused any problems for Villa’s back line. On its through, however, Colchester’s Frankie Kent, poorly marked by a recovering Bikir Bjarnason, stuck a foot out and redirected the ball past Jed Steer and into the bottom lefthand corner. Realistically, there was nothing Steer could do to stop such a last minute deflection, and Villa did not defend the corner especially poorly - O’Hare’s missed clearance simply allowed Colchester back into an opportunity that otherwise should have been gone.