The regular campaign is over — and the playoffs have begun. The moment is made more even more intense by the Derby. Enough words — lets get to the match.
Within the first minute of the match Johansen fouled Jack. And the tone was set. That is expected though. What was not expected was a header in front of goal falling to one Glenn Whelan. Jack and McGinn took a corner kick quickly and the Irish midfielder was unable to keep the header down. A good chance — but the wrong man for that job.
Jed Steer — on the other hand — is the right man in goal right now. He was called on just after the ten minute mark when Jay Rodriguez sent a shot that looked destined for the back of the net. Jed got just a finger tip to it — but it was enough to send the shot off the bar. And a sign of relief for the Villa.
West Brom was the team breathing a sign of relief minutes later. A perfect cross from Elmo found Tammy in all kinds of space. But he could not keep his volley down.
Then Villa pulled a Villa of years past. And did something very stupid. Glenn Whelan was totally at fault. The man has played very well of late and simply gave the ball away leading to the opening goal. Steer got a hand to it but not enough this time to push it wide.
Villa responded to the goal with some quiet pressure. The fans responded by just going quiet. The nerves settled on the players too as they seemed not to be on the same page on multiple occasions. West Brom managed zero attacks that were not gifted by giveaways.
Aston Villa had attack after attack but could not break through the strong defense of the visitors. Even after five minutes added due to a late injury to WBA’s Dawson.
Dawson subbed at half as WBA stuck with three center backs. And with those defenders the visitors were happy to sit back and make Villa break them down. And attack on the counter. They were good at it too. Villa tried to played back and forth but they could not find an good chances early the second half.
In the 62’ minute — Dwight Gayle picked up an early yellow for wasting time. Yes — wasting time with 30 minutes left. And he wasn’t the only WBA player to do it. But he got the yellow.
With 25 minutes to go — Villa made the sub that everyone expected, Whelan and Adomah off, Hourihane and Green on. It was time to turn the pressure up.
And ten minutes later — the pressure paid off. Jack Grealish attracted four defenders in the box. Hourihane was at the top of the box all alone. Grealish attracts four defenders in the box -- he lays it off for a open Hourihane who hits it perfectly. And Conor Hourihane stuck it beautifully. And the match was all square at 1-1.
Only minutes later Villa were on the attack again. Once again it was Captain Jack in the box — and Gibbs slid in for a tackle. Jack goes down. Penalty to the Villa. Time for Tammy Abraham....
Brilliant finish into the corner after sending Johnstone the wrong way. A quick turn around from 0-1 to 2-1.
With only minutes left — Dwight Gayle went in for a cross that Jed Steer was always going to get. It was not overly aggressive, not meant to injury. But Steer being a goalie — it was always going to be a yellow card... but Gayle had picked up his first for TIME WASTING IN THE 62’ MINUTE. Red card shown to the goal scorer.
And no second leg for him.
Seven minutes were added. A stressful and nervous seven minutes. But it was Villa on the attack. Andre Green with the best chance of the end period. But it was deflected out for a corner.
Advantage Villa into Tuesday.
Up the Villa!!