When Tyrone Mings was forced off the pitch on the 34th minute, it was over. Villa were down a man and had just conceded a penalty goal having missed their own effort earlier in the game. Jack Grealish cut a frustrated figure and Dean Smith howled when receiving a booking. It was pretty safe to say that the signs off the wheels truly coming off of the wagon were showing.
And then it happened. Jonathan Kodjia brushed home a spot-kick before Jack Grealish shot Villa into the lead. With ten men and fading energy, Villa were somehow able to hold on. Don’t ask me how, this team is ethereal right now. Oh, and make that seven wins in a row.
Here’s the full story in the aftermath of Villa’s 2-1 win over Rotherham United:
The Manager’s Thoughts
Dean Smith stated that Villa’s win over Rotherham was up there as one of the best. Why? Because Villa were ‘up against it’ after Tyrone Mings received a red card for two bookings in the first half - unjustly in the eyes of Smith - who could not see why Mings was shown a second yellow card.
The Villa boss added that Villa’s substituitions - Mile Jedinak and Jonathan Kodjia, were magnificent, even with Villa down a man. When asked about the improvised 4-3-2 formation, Dean stated that it worked because he knew that Villa’s midfield three were quality and could support a front two, even with a team composed of nine outfield players, and that he might need to rethink the system - as Villa worked so well with two strikers up front.
Jack Grealish also spoke to the media team at the Villa, praising the character of the squad and their togetherness. In Grealish’s eyes, Villa have become a team that play with swagger and confidence and train with a smile on their faces. In terms of the Rotherham victory, Jack knew that it would be ‘that type of game’ in terms of aggression but that Villa showed the Millers exactly what the they are all about.
The goal for Grealish? Well, in his own words: “I just want to keep winning, keep captaining the club. And hopefully come the end of the season, I’ll be at Wembley with a promotion medal around my neck.”
Couldn’t put it better myself. He’s still not lost a game as Villa captain, mind.
In other news, Rotherham boss Paul Warne believed that the decision to send off Tyrone Mings actually worked against his side - who were truly shown up against the quality of Villa.
Jail Dean Smith in my humble opinion.
Big Jedi, heading love back into our hearts.
One of his biggest critics when he’s played at centre back in the past but that was some performance by Jedinak. #AVFC— Adam Clarke (@AdamClarke501) April 10, 2019
It’s all the beans and toast that he eats.
Happy to call it a masterstroke if you don’t mind me...
Name another coach who, with ten men, replaces a midfielder with a striker at half time. The anti-Bruce #Deano— Martin Laurence (@martinlaurence7) April 10, 2019
ROLL UP ROLL UP
Expected goals can tell us a fair bit about a match. Here’s an explainer. In the long term we can judge how well a team is doing in front of goal. On a match-by-match basis, we can simply judge chances, and how well they are taken.
Villa: 2.85 (2)
Rotherham: 1.82 (1)
Both teams enjoyed the padding of penalties - with Villa earning two and Rotherham taking one. Villa earned their win by finishing fairly decent chances including Jack Grealish’s eventual winner. However, they made it hard work by failing to bury when they had the ball in the face of goal. We’ll let them off this time around.
Data provided by infogol
Goalscorers: Jonathan Kodjia and Jack Grealish redeemed Tammy Abraham’s penalty miss.
Big winners: Mile Jedinak came on to the pitch in difficult circumstances and never put a foot wrong. Jack Grealish stepped back into the spotlight with a match winner and Jonathan Kodjia was brought on and brought a lot of life to this Villa side.
Big losers: It’s a shame to put Tyrone Mings here, but his red card in the first half was a nightmare scenario. It’s two penalties in two games given away by Mings, but he’ll bounce back - after suspension of course. He’s easily the most undeserving person to have ever been placed in this section of the Villa wrap-up.
Best moment: Seeing Jack Grealish tuck away a goal moments after Kodjia’s equaliser was some real David-After-Dentist ‘is this real life’ stuff. Wow.
Worst moment: 36 minutes into the game. Villa are down a man, Dean Smith is raging. The whole world is upside down and Rotherham take the lead. It felt like the end.
Man of the Match: While Jack Grealish typically had the opposition on strings, John McGinn truly locked the game down for Villa. What a player. Special mention to Jonathan Kodjia as well.
The Play-Off Race
It’s looking good for Villa. 66 points puts them on a collision course with West Bromwich Albion, and extends the gap to Middlesbrough to 5 points. The worst case scenario in the next round of fixtures will still see Villa hold a three point lead over Derby County in 8th place. Next up is a critical clash with play-off hopefuls Bristol City in a match that Villa cannot afford to lose if they want to be comfortable, a win on the weekend will put AVFC four points clear of Bristol City - and into dreamland.