Villa recorded back-to-back league wins for the first time since April, and as man-of-the-match Albert Adomah put it in his post-match interview “look at what it means to the fans”. We’re now only two points away from the play-offs and things are looking a little better.
Aston Villa started the game with 26% possession in the first fifteen minutes, looked shaky on the ball and struggled to get out of their own half. For a home game, that was concerning. Fans were giving Bruce stick for the opening appearance Villa were giving.
As the in-stand commentators were making this comment, fans were treated to a Kodjia masterclass, playing a cut-throat ball to Albert Adomah who scored his third goal in two games by rounding the keeper and placing the ball into the net. Snodgrass also provided some sublime movement to open the Forest defence.
Adomah looked as is he was coursing with confidence after his goal, attempting a more ambitious shot just a few minutes later. The pairing of Adomah, Davis and Kodjia seemed to be working well – all three look like they’re trying to prove themselves – which sometimes can cause frustrations with fans when key passes aren’t played.
The Villa line looked strong, springing offside traps that Forest struggled to replicate – which is the main reason the home side went 1-0 up.
Keinan Davis showed his strength around the thirty-five minute mark, holding the ball up and laying off Albert Adomah who should have done much better and clinically finished rather than a half-hearted pass-shot at Smith in the Forest goal.
In the final minutes of the half, Forest looked devoid of the confidence that they had started the game with and forward Daryl Murphy looked isolated in the Villa half, making only 9 touches – the least by any player on the pitch – and some of those were clearances from his own penalty area.
Forest started the second half with ten men as Bridcutt raced down the tunnel – but VIlla weren’t able to put anything together to capitalise on their man advantage in the two minutes that Bridcutt was off the pitch.
Daryl Murphy put the sides level by showing incredible strength to get through both Glenn Whelan and John Terry, then past James Chester and slotting past Johnstone with relative ease.
Villa have conceded more goals in the first fifteen minutes of the second half than at any other point in games. Could this be a pointer towards Bruce not holding the dressing room well enough, or players just losing interest?
Conor Hourihane put the home side back in front around the 60 minute mark, scoring his 50th career goal and his fourth of the season, with a wonderful free-kick, curled low and powerfully into the bottom left corner. You could see what it meant to him, and what it meant to Steve Bruce with a huge sigh of relief expelled when the ball hit the back of the net.
Josh Onomah replaced Keinan Davis after another fine display, and Scott Hogan replaced Kodjia with around ten minutes to go. Kodjia was looking better, but still looks as if he’s not entirely sharp.
Neil Taylor proved that he is always willing to put his body on the line with an emphatic block against an attempt on the Villa goal within the last ten minutes.
Sam Johnstone provided another wonder-save with five minutes left, palming away a Forest free-kick from around the same distance that Hourihane buried his own from. Johnstone proved that he will be a stalwart in between the sticks this season, even if the rest of the team aren’t up to scratch.
With three minutes to go, Bruce decided to do a Scot-for-Scot sub, taking Snodgrass off for Alan Hutton, who slotted into right-back, allowing Elmohamady to move further up the pitch.
In the last few moments of the game, Villa really struggled in terms of keeping a hold of the ball, with splayed passes, poor decisions and a general lack of tenacity in the Forest half.
Overall, it wasn’t the best performance, but it was still a performance. Another win, and a win at home too. Forest looked like they couldn’t handle Villa at times, and this is reflected in the amount of booking that picked up and how frustrated they looked.