What a performance. Aston Villa turned up and were a joy to watch. From front to back it was a pleasure — and a needed one for all Aston Villa supporters.
Aston Villa shuffled their starting lineup resting the two regular starters on the wing in Albert Adomah and Robert Snodgrass. In the end the final three matches are all about getting ready for the next (hopefully) three.
Ipswich almost and probably should have opened the scoring in the first five minutes when a ball fell to a wide open Jonas Knudsen who failed to even put it close to the goal. As the clock ticked higher Villa settled into the match with Jack Grealish — once again -- taking control in the middle of the pitch.
But it was one of his midfield partners Conor Hourihane who broke open the scoring. Grabban took the ball down Villa’s left and let loose a shot with some pace. It was deflected (for what must have been the sixth or seventh time in the opening half an hour) by an Ipswich defender on to the post. And Hourihane was in the right place at the right time and rolled it into the back of the net to put Aston Villa into the lead.
Ipswich responded well to the goal and Hourihane’s fellow Irishman Glenn Whelan was on his game to clear a nice looking pass out of the box to keep the clean sheet going. Chester continues to be a rock in the back and deserves plenty of praise for his stable play as well. Sadly, after the goal, it was the defensive effort for Villa that was most noticeable as the visitors could not quite get things going in the attacking end. That said — Ipswich never looked like scoring.
With five minutes to go until the half things got worse for Ipswich when Grant Ward was shown a 100% deserved red card. Ward could have broken Neil Taylor’s leg when his boot went directly into the full back’s leg.
Grant Ward sent off for Ipswich Town. #AVFC pic.twitter.com/Meux0jcrNK— Aston Villa Pictures (@AVFC_Pictures) April 21, 2018
The home crowd disagreed with the decision. They were and still are wrong. My favorite moment was when they booed Elmohamady not realizing he is — in fact — not Neil Taylor. Eventually the crowd figured that out. But still booed Taylor and the referee off at half time. And continued to be wrong for doing it.
When the players came out for the second half there was a calm determination from the team expecting to dominate being a goal and man up. And Villa did just that.
Bjarnason had the first chance a couple of minutes in but his first touch let him down as the ball got stuck under his feel. But great to see the midfielder given the freedom to make runs into the box.
Onomah had the next opportunity after Villa turned possession into a decent chance through Whelan and Grabban. Grabban held up the ball with his back to goal. The loanee looked to turn but was defended well and laid the ball off. Onomah took a first time chance but the keeper was equal to it and pushed it out for a corner.
Only minutes later Grabban got the ball with his back to goal in almost the exact same position as before. This time when he turned he found a way through and made it count from a very tight angle. The placed shot bounced off the post and into the back of the net doubling Villa’s lead.
Lewis Grabban makes it two for Aston Villa against Ipswich Town. #AVFC pic.twitter.com/b4vZhSAsFF— Aston Villa Pictures (@AVFC_Pictures) April 21, 2018
Scott Hogan entered the match in the 64th minute to replace Neil Taylor -- moving Birkir to left-back. But that did not stop Thor from being involved in the attack. Grealish found him making a nice run but the shot only found the side netting. Scott Hogan disagreed with Bjarnason’s decision to shoot because he wanted the square pass (and probably should have gotten it). Lansbury replaces Hourihane with quarter of an hour remaining and Villa continued to make it look easy.
Onomah (unlike Bjarnason a few minutes earlier) did square the ball in the box when he was faced with a number of defenders in front of him. The defenders had left Grabban wide open — who nailed home his second goal to make it 0-3.
But Villa weren’t done yet. This time it was Henri Lansbury. The midfielder made a long pass out to the left, threw his hand in the air and made a long run into the box. Bjarnason saw him and put a nice high cross and Lansbury headed it home to continue to the rout. It was beautiful.
100 meter 1-2 between Lansbury and Bjarnason is the play of the season. What the hell— James Rushton (@Jamorushton) April 21, 2018
Scott Hogan very nearly made it five as the clock neared 90 but his effort went just wide. And minutes later turned on a ball on the box and put it way over the net. Hogan is desperate to score and Steve Bruce should continue to give him chances to breakthrough.
If confidence and momentum were the goals — it was mission accomplished for Steve Bruce.