The game’s goals came in the final ten minutes as former Villan, Ciaran Clark,
deflected an Ollie Watkins header into his own net in the 86th minute before Newcastle United captain, Jamaal Lascelles, fired a header home as time expired.
There weren’t too many chances and forward momentum before the final stages, except for a few shots from range comfortably dealt with.
After Villa opened the scoring, Newcastle opened themselves up and made some openings, making themselves equally vulnerable at the back - but Ollie Watkins, Anwar El Ghazi, and Ross Barkley couldn’t combine properly to find the killer blow.
They were then punished in the last minute of stoppage time as they struggled to clear their lines, something that they had routinely done throughout the game without issue.
Lackluster in attack (again)
Villa were dealt a blow early on as Bertrand Traore came off injured after being sent into the advertising hoardings by a shoulder barge.
However, even from the start, Villa seemed disjointed and without killer intent to get themselves into the box and take chances, highlighted by only five shots on target against a side struggling for form and momentum at the wrong end of the table.
It was somewhat fitting and telling that the goal came in such spurious circumstances.
After weeks of Ollie Watkins and company hitting the woodwork, having efforts cleared off the line, and so on and so forth, it was a freak deflection onto the underside of the bar that got them their breakthrough.
Even at the end of the game with green grass ahead of them, Villa fluffed their lines and found it difficult to sustain an attack.
Dean Smith has hit back against those saying that Villa aren’t the same without Jack Grealish, but today exhibited that the intent and the direction of the team has become much more passive in his absence.
The same could be said for Matty Cash, providing attacking support and ingenuity down the right hand side, effectively meaning that both sides are hampered; something in which is hopefully corrected by next Sunday (against Tottenham).
Both sides were equally lackluster, but Villa did look the more likely to put the game to bed as time wore on.
However, once they had their goal, they couldn’t find the killer blow and were finally held to task for being unable to clear their lines, something that had been an issue throughout the evening.
The Villans will hope to at least arrest their puzzling passive play over the upcoming international break and that should be helped by the reintroduction of Grealish and Cash.
IT may be more prudent for fans to start setting their sights a little lower than we had done a couple of months back, towards a top-half finish - rather than the grandeur of continental competition next season.
Judging by recent performances, one more year looking in from the outside might even be the smarter move.