Fans of the Claret and Blue were left with a road surprise as Aston Villa opened up with a 3-4-2-1 line up switch to start against the Robins. Keinan Davis kept the top spot and Chris Samba made his debut in the XI to the left of John Terry and James Chester.
The First Half
Andre Green had a lightning shot go straight off the keeper in the fifth minute, but Bristol carried the early momentum with a few dangerous attempts. Villa canceled their three back experiment in the 22nd minute and pulled a fourth defender to the back line with Neil Taylor retreating.
Bristol continued to own possession and pace for the first thirty five or so minutes while Villa gave away opportunities in the attack in a relatively unremarkable affair, unless you count a sideline costume change exciting.
Our old friend Nathan Baker committed a pretty difficult foul going head-to-head with Josh Onomah who left last Saturday’s match with Norwich due to a head injury so that could be an issue to monitor, though it didn’t seem to affect him much.
Villa’s early change in tactics with three at the back didn’t produce results or many opportunities at least until the end of the first half where they controlled possession and generated a handful of opportunities. It was up to them to keep up that final minutes effort with a better tactical performance in the second act.
The Second Half
At halftime Chris Samba gave way on the pitch to James Bree which allowed James Chester to move back to his normal central role. It was reportedly a knee injury for Samba which was keeping him out, that came as a shame as he’d put together a solid first half.
A return to a more familiar lineup showed early as Villa played comfortably in the opening, turning a spell of good attacking chances into a Josh Onomah shot on goal before slowing down.
Indeed, if an attack were to come from Aston Villa it looked most likely to come at the effort of Josh Onomah who continued to impress and show a desire to involve Keinan Davis in play.
A foul by John Terry in the 59th minute proved disastrous, giving away an 18 yard free kick. The initial shot pinged loosely around in the box before Jamie Paterson fired the ball in for the 1-0 lead for the host squad.
Onomah would not let Bristol lead for long, as he quickly responded with his deflected strike from distance right at the 65th minute to bring the match back level.
After an effort in the box from Conor Hourihane was deflected, Aston Villa conceded multiple corners to Bristol and played on the backfoot while seeing Bristol make their first change bringing on Fulham loaner Cauley Woodrow to replace Famara Diédhiou.
Bristol City struck a post in the 77th minute on a great through ball as they continued great form before Keinan Davis and Andre Green made way for Scott Hogan and Birkir Bjarnason depleting Aston Villa’s substitutions for the evening. In another bit of luck for Villa a handball was missed by referee Geoff Eltringham, however, in short order he missed a corner to Villa to even the complaints.
Bjarnason showed effort putting a shot just wide left on an 82nd minute attempt and Josh Onomah was booked for an 85th minute foul holding up a Bristol City counter.
The final ten minutes, including stoppage time resolved without issue from either side and at 1-1, Villa did just enough to earn an away point.
It was clear through most of the match that the form generated away from Villa Park was none the same as for the last two matches. Very few opportunities were created for the offense, but with only two more away matches until October, Villa have a chance to add points to their promotion run with their strong home play.