Well, I hope you didn’t agree with my headline, because nothing could be further from the truth. A fantastic display of counter attacking football reminiscent of some of our own away performances this season left Villa players licking their wounds after being out-battled at Villa park this afternoon.
Things got off to a bad start for the division’s most decorated club when Adam Price latched onto a clearance from Sheffield goalkeeper Kieran Westwood and fired a magnificent looping half-volley from 40 yards over Sam Johnstone, who was left clawing at thin air. Barely ten minutes later, captain John Terry picked up an injury stretching for a clearance, and had to be replaced by Chris Samba – who’s afternoon started in dismal fashion as he was nutmegged for the second goal that Jordan Rhodes tucked home from close range, doubling the misery that was descending on Villa Park. With a spirit that has rarely been seen in a claret & blue shirt in recent years, however, Villa continued to work hard to get back into the game and almost got a goal back when the injured Robert Snodgrass produced a stinging drive which was well held by Westwood. Snodgrass succumbed to his injury not too long later, and was replaced by Callum O’Hare before the half time whistle had even been blown.
After finishing the first half brightly, Villa opened the first half very well; coming close on a number of occasions and forcing Sheffield Wednesday onto the back foot. Unfortunately, the visitors were able to get a foothold in the game by picking off Glenn Whelan and Keinan Davis – and almost added a third goal, when Palmer steered an effort wide of an open goal from 6 yards. After being buoyed by the introduction of Jack Grealish, Davis thought that he had a goal back for Villa on 89 minutes – but saw his effort ruled out after an alleged handball. Chris Samba did pull a goal back in the dying seconds, converting a low cross at the back post, but a resilient display of defensive football saw Carlos Carvahal’s side become the first team to take 3 points at Villa Park this season.
In many ways, Villa were the masters of their own downfall today. John Terry’s poor clearance gave Reach the chance to score the opener after 20 seconds, and veterans Hutton and Samba were both very slow on the uptake as Wednesday countered to score the second. Scott Hogan made a number of great runs into the channels throughout the game – I counted 11 – but the ball was only played to him twice, which really was a shame for the Republic of Ireland International who could certainly have made an impact today- had his teammates been on the same wavelength as him. James Chester missed a glorious opportunity deep into the second half when he uncharacteristically miscued a header into the Holte End with the goal gaping. Callum O’ Hare is another player who could have got on the score sheet today – but he failed to keep his composure at the critical moment; throwing himself at the ball when a simple header would have seen him score his first competitive goal for the Club.
Villa were not helped in any way by some of the officiating. Sheffield Wednesday should have been down to ten early in the second half, when Keinan Davis had his knees smashed into by two sets of studs in a very much out of control challenge. However, a yellow card was deemed the appropriate punishment by Geoff Eltringham, and Villa went on to see many more decisions go against them- including a penalty appeal being wave away when Hourihane’s cross appeared to strike the arm of Hooper.
It was not in any way a bad display from Villa- at 2-0 down, the spirit was very good… Sheffield Wednesday just stood firm, parked the bus and worked hard for the 3 points. An unlucky day for the boys in claret and blue; we will certainly be out for vengeance at Loftus Road in 14 days.