Steve Bruce made only one change from the victorious Villa side, bringing Albert Adomah on in place of Anwar El Ghazi. It was expected that Yannick Bolasie might make a start, but he began the day on the bench.
The First Half
The first forty-five minutes of football were a halting and broken affair. Moving from foul to free kick to turn over neither team was able to find any rhythm. Villa continually lost possession of the ball up and down the pitch and when they weren’t fouling to keep Sheffield Wednesday from challenging Orjen Nyland, The Owls were seeing chances slip through their talons with turnovers of their own or just generally disjointed play. A stronger side than this campaigns Wednesday club would have punished Villa for their repeated transgressions. Wednesday could only manage to force corners and fouls.
Yet the pressure that Villa continually put themselves under did bear breaking weight in certain regards. An 8th minute foul by James Chester earned a yellow card and would force him to play the vast majority of the match under threat of expulsion, whereas Mile Jedinak’s many giveaways led to Mile Jedinak’s many fouls to stop play and [one thinks that can’t continue for longer in the second half] before both centrebacks earn official rebuke on the day.
The Claret and Blue attack saw scant opportunities for possession or pressure. Unable to hold onto the ball against the parliament at the backline, the talent gap between Villa forwards was negated by the numbers of the defence. Yet closely toward toward stoppage time, an Alan Hutton run down the line drew a yellow card on centreback Ashley Baker.
The Second Half
Early in the second half Villa’s deficiencies would come to bear, as Sheffield Wednesday took a goal lead a short four minutes in.
Unable to capitalize on Tammy Abraham’s streaking attack and centering pass a minute prior, Villa would see Sheffield Wednesday break quickly down an open right side to bring the ball wholly into the box. Mile Jedinak was able to deflect an initial shot, but the redirection was sent to the top of the box where Marco Matias’ strike took an alternate angle off of a sliding James Chesters undercarriage and past Nyland’s dive to his right.
Yet Villa would be quickly redeemed.
John McGinn’s wonder strike leveled the match for the club in certified style and opened up the second half of the match to everything the first half wasn’t.
Both Villa and Wednesday continued to display effectiveness in moving the ball and creating chances hence with Adomah just missing an overhead kick right in front of keeper Cameron Dawson and Orjen Nyland making an especially quality save on a complete breakaway opportunity to make sure that Villa would stay even if only for a moment.
Alan Hutton saved a chance on a great sliding challenge after Steven Fletcher was opened over the top onto net, but Fletcher wouldn’t be kept out of goal for long. After clearing a corner quickly, Fletcher was the recipient of a Joey Pelupessy cross into the box and the strikers diving header into the near corner found the back of the net and put The Owls up a goal.
In an attempt to get a point back on the day Steve Bruce’s second half subs brought in his new boys Yannick Bolasie for Adomah and Anwar El Ghazi for Kodjia. Bolasie, to his credit, created a number of chances, nearly finding Conor Hourihane for the equalizer, yet Hourihane mishit a bounding ball wide. Neither subs made much of a difference for the club and when the final whistle came Steve Bruce’s 100th match ended in a manner which we’ve become accustomed.
Aston Villa on the day seemed like...Aston Villa. Often looking lost and losing possession, the attack relied on chances created solely by the talented and brilliant. Jack Grealish earned free kick after free kick, yet his forward passing and movement was impeded by a defence knowing just where to throw men to stop him. John McGinn was able to bury his opportunity showing just what Villa have in the Scotsman, yet Yannick Bolasie, Albert Adomah, Conor Hourihane and Jonathan Kodjia all saw their chances go without satisfaction. The backline of the defence was opened constantly to a team with lesser talent, yet the score was kept close by quality saves from keeper Orjen Nyland and exerted scrambling from James Chester and Alan Hutton.
A familiar script. There will be days like Tuesday against Rotherham where that is enough and days like today where it’s clearly not. This is who we have been and this is who we are.