Ten. Aston Villa sought to make it ten wins in a row when they welcomed Millwall to Villa Park for an afternoon match up. Aston Villa’s motivation to keep the run going versus Millwall’s fight for survival.
For those of you wondering about table math.
Believe that #AVFC will clinch a play-off spot on Monday with the following things:— alex carson (@_alexcarson) April 19, 2019
- Win over Millwall
- Middlesbrough loss/draw
- Bristol City OR Derby County loss/draw
Dean Smith was forced into a few changes because of injuries and the quick turn around from Friday. Mile Jedinak is back in the defense replacing Axel Tuanzebe & Jonathan Kodjia comes in for Tammy Abraham. No changes in the midfield — meaning with only three matches left for Villa — many eyes remain on John McGinn and his yellow card tally sitting 13. A reminder that if he picks up two — he is suspended for three matches. Be smart John.
But enough of setting the table — let’s get to the match.
Aston Villa began the match with a controlled spell of possession — swinging back and forth across the pitch as I think every player got touches on the ball. The patience lead to an early corner and an early free kick in the first five minutes. Sadly the corner was defended well and Mile Jedinak couldn’t keep a shot on target from the set piece. Following the Jedinak miss — Millwall’s keeper was warned by the referee not to waste time. No card or anything official but noteworthy that it happened six minutes into the match.
Just short of the ten minute mark a Jack Grealish corner almost opened the scoring. The sent in a wonderful ball that seemed to fool the keeper as he came out and let it over him (in fairness the wind may have played a role as well). But sadly the El Ghazi header was off target.
Millwall began growing into the match — helped by a few giveaways from the Villa midfield. Jed Steer made the first save of the match from an effort just outside the box.
The ensuing corner was headed off the line as Millwall reminded Villa of the threat from set pieces. I think it was Neil Taylor with the clearance but with no replay shown I could be totally wrong.
When Villa found success it was down the flanks (especially the left) as Millwall piled bodies in the middle of the park to stop Villa from making attacking runs.
Millwall defender Jake Cooper picked up a yellow in the 27 minute when he professionally prevented Kodjia from turning and being off an running against he keeper. A minute later — Kodjia was through the defense. But I think he touch was a little heavy — and the keeper did a wonderful job coming out and pushing a flicked effort wide of goal. The attack seemed to reinvigorate Villa and Jimmy Danger.
At the half an hour mark it was time for Villa to string a few attacking passes together. From Elmohamady on the right — to McGinn in the middle — to Grealish on the left of the box — to El Ghazi in the box — he sent a low cross at the top of the six — and one Jonathan Kodjia got his boot to it first — and the ball was in the back of the net. 1-0 to the Villa.
Nice celebration from Kodjia there. I get the feeling that him and Albert Adomah work on those in the locker room and have a ton of fun doing so.
After the goal — Villa settled back into a slow possession game. Whelan continued to be a controlling presence — Grealish and El Ghazi were the main avenues of attack down the left. Millwall continued to press — mostly through set pieces but opened up a few attacks with balls over the top to the wings. Every time — or so it seemed — Mings was there to stop the attack.
Halftime came and went with the Villa players applauded off — and then on again.
Aston Villa began the second half with an El Ghazi shot going right after the keeper. The winger was the standout player in the first period and looked to jump right back in it after the break.
After the early shot — the opening ten minutes were ugly. At 55’ Jonathan Kodjia showed some of his quality footwork sneaking by three defenders in the box — including one who grabbed him — but his shot rolled wide of the mark. The move showed the wonderful skill that JK has. He is capable of creating his own goal from nothing. But I do not want Villa to go back to depending on individual skill goals.
Dean Smith had seen enough from the squad and made a double substitution hoping to reignite the Villa attack with 30 minutes left to play and only up 1-0. Conor Hourihane on for Glenn Whelan & Andre Green on for Albert Adomah.
Green made an immediate impact skipping by a defender with his feet on the line along the right. The cross was deflected and then rolled harmlessly to the keeper. A few minutes later Green went for goal from a tight angle — when he really should have looked for a wide open El Ghazi. He may not have seen him though.
Grealish and Green then paired up for another attack down the right. This time Green pulled it back to Grealish waiting at the penalty spot. Jack tried to slide it into the corner but the keeper got a foot to it.
Great to see Green getting in good positions because he could be a really useful player along the wings as a sub or a starter if Adomah falters or picks up a knock.
With 15’ left Keinan Davis got another chance to impress coming on for Jonathan Kodjia.
Jack Grealish had a pair of chances (one before the sub and one after ) but a deflection sent the first wide — and the keeper Dave Martin saved the second. Jack clearly wanted score and even looked El Ghazi off on a breakaway before having the ball taken off him. On the same play Neil Taylor picked up a yellow for a foul on the Millwall keeper.
Millwall were the better team for a bit — as Aston Villa looked sloppy. The hosts seemed a little complacent — some of that caused by 9 wins in a row & some caused by the quick turnaround from the last match.
The Millwall keeper saved a brilliant side volley from Andre Green. The winger knew very little about it coming off a deflected cross but he did well to keep it on target. Moments later it looked like Davis almost scored — but it turns out he didn’t head the ball — he punched it. And picked up a yellow card for the handball.
Dave Martin — once again — came to Millwall’s rescue just short of 90’. Aston Villa broke well from a corner from Millwall. McGinn was given the ball running down the middle of the pitch. He played El Ghazi through but the keeper got enough of a touch to send the ball rolling on the wrong side of the post.
Villa tried to double the scoring but Millwall defended well. Past the 90’ Villa were happy to keep the ball in the corner and keep possession. Eventually Jack just saw too much space in the middle of the park and had to take a run at it. He was fouled at the top of the arch. El Ghazi, Grealish, and Houirhane all surrounded the ball. Hourihane hit his own man in the wall.
That was that. The final whistle blew and Aston Villa win means an historic run.
In a row.
That is really impressive.
Up the Villa.