The mid-week rain was gone and the sun was out in Cardiff and I had a beer in hand to enjoy a lovely day of football.
Then Villa happened.
Toothless, terrible, horrendous, string of four-letter words, pick your negative adjective(s). It was pathetic. Shots on target usually tell a compelling story — 12-1. That understates just how bad Aston Villa were. The heads dropped and every fan had flashbacks to recent years.
The first six minutes were madness at both ends. Aston Villa started strong with a pair of chances falling to Hogan. The first was came from a Hutton cross and the Irishman put it well over. Minutes later a Gabby flick-on put Hogan through versus the keeper — who saved the shot (which to be fair from Hogan was from a tough angle).
Sam Johnstone caused a near-heart attack when spilling a shot from distance before catching it on the line. Not cool Sam.
Both teams seemed to settle in by the time the clock hit ten minutes. Sam Johnstone was forced into his first tidy save from a tight angle stopping a Cardiff counter attack on 14 minutes.
Alan Hutton — to be very, very kind — was out matched by Junior Hoilett. He got beat twice in a row down Villa’s right. Then failed to control the ball in the box which led to Cardiff opening the scoring when a cross was headed in by Nathaniel Mendez-Laing. Nothing Johnstone could do about the header.
Aston Villa were forced into a first half sub with Ahmed Elmohamady heading off — then shown being taken away on a stretcher. That doesn’t bode well.
Right before the half an hour mark — young Onomah showed a great spin move to get by a man down the far left. Then a Cardiff defender just shoved Lansbury down. Free kick went into the wall — as did the rebound attempt.
Minutes later — Neil Taylor came to Villa’s rescue with a goal line clearance as Cardiff continued to have the upper hand.
A few half-chances for Villa near the end of the half with Lansbury putting a header wide and Adomah having a long distance attempt deflected out for a corner (that came to nothing).
Second half started brightly with a great flick from Hogan -- sending Gabby down the left. Cross was deflected out and almost an own goal. Corner (in a shocking turn of events) came to nothing. The ensuing counter attacking forced Johnstone into a good save one-on-one with the attacker. Two minutes later Johnstone had his third big save after Hutton gave the ball away up the right — leading to another counter attack.
Villa’s best change came at the 50 minute mark when Chester nearly tied it up with a header (off a corner!!) but it went off the bar after hitting the ground.
Callum O’Hare replaced Lansbury on 57 and Villa hoped for a chance in the game.
There was one. It wasn’t good. Two minutes later Cardiff doubled their lead after John Terry was caught too high on the left, forcing Chester into a rough position. The attack moved right past him and the ball was floated over Sam Johnstone and Alan Hutton (who was marking air) — Junior Hoilett headed it home with ease.
Villa responded somewhat well to the goal — showing a little bit of an attack for the first time since the opening minutes. But in the end none of it had any real quality.
More terrible defending almost gifted Cardiff a third on 68 minutes. But wait there’s more — two minutes later the Bluebirds made it three after stringing some passes together (once again) down Villa’s right. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing nailed it home for his second after beating Chester.
Conor Hourihane came on for Onomah for the last 15 mins. Which at first caused anger — but remember he played a full 90’ mid-week and Villa travel to Reading on Tuesday.
Cardiff saw out the match without a real problem and could have added a fourth.