For his third match in charge of Aston Villa, Dean Smith took his side to a familiar setting, West London.
Villa were once again involved in Friday Night Football as they took on a Queens Park Rangers side that had found some recent form after a rather poor start to the season.
Unfortunately for Aston Villa and the 3,000 supporters who made the journey to Loftus Road, Steve McLaren’s men were able to take advantage of a chance to make it four wins in their last five.
For the claret and blue, the defeat marked their seventh consecutive away match without a victory in the Championship. As per Dean Smith, it extended his managerial run of no wins in the league since last April.
After tonight’s result there is certainly more work to be done, but surely better results ahead for Aston Villa. Here is a recap of tonight’s 1-0 loss to QPR:
After a few minutes of each side trying to find their footing, John McGinn had a lovely turn that gave him the space to get a shot off in the 3rd minute. Unfortunately his left-footed effort was not on target, but it marked the first real action of the match.
Almost immediately following the Scot’s attempt, QPR had nearly consecutive corners that Villa’s defence and Ørjan Nyland were able to deal with.
Nearly three minutes later, a turnover in attack allowed Steve McLaren’s side to counter. Their move eventually led to the first shot on goal by Luke Freeman. Fortunately his hit from about 20-yards out did not trouble Aston Villa’s keeper.
After the claret and blue had the better part of the ball, another poor pass gave possession to the Hoops. QPR’s Eberechi Eze tried to take advantage with a bent effort from distance - once again - it did not pose a threat.
A few seconds later, after a well worked attacked, Jack Grealish was able to get a shot off from just outside the 18-yard box. He came oh so close as the ball went just inches wide of the left-hand post.
Overall, in the first 20 minutes, Dean Smith’s side controlled nearly 70% of possession in a rather scrappy affair. Certainly such statistics appealed to many ‘Villans:’
This is so refreshing to watch after years of absolute shite— Holte (@TheHolteTweets) October 26, 2018
Just after Jonathan Kodjia was unable to convert a good chance, the 24th minute saw QPR unable to take advantage of a free-kick just outside Villa’s 18-yard box.
Four minutes later Tammy Abraham was well found in the box. The claret and blue’s subsequent passes in attack did not amount to a chance on Joe Lumley’s goal.
In the 30th minute, QPR’s keeper misjudged Jack Grealish’s curled free-kick from well out. His sneaky attempt hit the post and could have well gone in for what would have been a rather fortunate opener for Aston Villa.
The Hoops responded a few minutes later as Luke Freeman had another crack from 20-yards out that was safely collected by Nyland. Following that, Steve McLaren shouted for a penalty as Pawel Wszolek went down in the box. It was certainly close…
And after Neil Taylor played with fire in the penalty area, Villa’s back four were caught out by Geoff Cameron’s lofted through ball that found Wszolek on a run. The Pole went in unchallenged and was able to put the home side up 1-0 in the 38th minute.
Things got worse for Villa just a few minutes later as ‘Thor’ went down with a groin injury and had to be substituted off. Glenn Whelan replaced the Icelander in midfield.
The 45th minute saw Jonathan Kodjia’s industry in attack force Joe Lumley to clear his cross from the right-flank. The move by ‘Jimmy Danger’ marked a semi-positive response from Aston Villa.
Ultimately, after two added minutes, the half ended 1-0. The claret and blue had nothing to show for their 70% of possession as they also finished the half outshot by the home side.
Villa started the second half looking to equalize. After Massimo Luongo fouled Jonathan Kodjia, John McGinn took a free-kick from the left side of QPR’s box. His delivery found Tammy Abraham, but sadly he was not able to get a fizzed effort on target.
After the sides traded fouls, Eberechi Eze’s dangerous 52nd minute shot was deflected just over the bar for a QPR corner that ultimately came to nothing.
The 56th and 57th minutes marked Aston Villa’s best spell in attack. The claret and blue pressured QPR’s defence, winning two corners and forcing Joe Lumley to get a fist to a dangerous corner delivery. Unfortunately for Dean Smith, his men were not able to get an effort on goal.
The away momentum fizzled out as a the Hoops subsequently had a free-kick in Villa’s half and brought on the Burnley loanee – striker Nahki Wells – for Tomer Hemed.
Dean Smith also made his second change as he Yannick Bolasie replaced Elmo. Neither of the men who were substituted off had any real impact on the night.
Axel Tuanzebe – who was a bright spot in the loss at Carrow Road on Tuesday – had a half-chance with a headed effort off John McGinn’s corner in the 65th minute.
The addition of Bolasie proved to be a boost of attacking energy as the winger went close in the 67th minute as he forced Lumley to stop consecutive shots inside the box.
The claret and blue sustained attacking pressure, but were unable to produce an equalizer– rather a theme of the match. That led to Steve McLaren making his second change in the 71st minute when he brought midfielder Josh Scowen for Geoff Cameron.
Much like Tuesday night, it looked as if Villa began to tire around the 70-minute mark. The Hoops were able to get back on the ball as both Nakhi Wells and Josh Scowen – QPR’s two subs – had half-chances in the 75th minute.
With ten to go, Pawel Wszolek – QPR’s goalscorer – picked up a yellow card. That gave Villa the ball and led to an attacking move that allowed Jack Grealish to get an attempt on target. However, Angel Rangel blocked his shot and Villa’s appeals for handball were denied.
In the 87th minute, linkup play between Abraham and Kodjia did not come off. A minute later ‘Jimmy Danger’ earned a free-kick that also came to nothing as Joe Lumley easily collected John McGinn’s delivery into the box.
As four minutes of stoppage time were added, the home side brought on Matt Smith. The 94th minute saw Tammy Abraham get the ball inside QPR’s box, but he could only win Villa a corner.
That corner came to nothing, but the claret and blue stayed on to ball to win a free-kick near the right corner flag in the 95th minute. Villa’s last salvo did not produce an equalizer and the Hoops closed out the match to go seventh in the Championship.
As per Aston Villa, tonight’s result left them more entrenched in the bottom half of the league. They return to Villa Park next Friday for another match under the lights against Bolton Wanderers.
Loss aside, UTV!