Well that was disappointing. Aston Villa failed to take advantage of Cardiff’s slip up yesterday as they laboured to a defeat at Norwich.
Villa started slowly, and unsurprisingly, were up against it early on.
Josh Murphy made Norwich’s first chance, running down the left, the academy graduate skinned Robert Snodgrass before forcing a fairly routine save from Johnstone.
Villa were struggling to create opportunities of real quality, while Norwich were loving life in the East Anglian sun. Snodgrass was on hand to clear Grant Hanley’s header off the line, before John Terry did really well to get on the deck to prevent Murphy from scoring.
We were playing too safe. Time after time we would choose to play the ball back rather than look for the more progressive pass.
Just before half time Murphy cut in from the right and lined up for a shot. At this point I thought he might as well have a go because he’s not scoring from there. Surely? But what does he do? Bend the ball into the top corner out of Sam Johnstone’s reach that’s what.
Nine minutes into the second-half Norwich landed their second blow. Harrison Reed dinked a delicate ball over the top, and Dennis Srbeny beat the offside trap to slot home.
It was now panic stations, Bruce threw on Lewis Grabban and Johnathan Kodjia on for Snodgrass and Albert Adomah.
And it was Kodjia who got the assist for Villa’s only goal of the day. The Ivorian played the ball to Jack Grealish who hit the through a crowd of bodies prior to finding the bottom corner and paying tribute to Ray Wilkins with his undershirt. A classy touch.
The one goal deficit wasn’t to last though. Three Villa defenders closed down danger man Murphy who simply slipped the ball across to James Maddison. The Canaries top scorer made no mistake. 3-1.
Late on, Norwich switched to a five at the back and took the sting out of Villa. The home side some went close on the counter a few times too through substitutes Wes Hoolahan and Nelson Oliveira.
It’s all about consolidating in the play-offs now for Villa, but things don’t get any easier with second placed Cardiff City coming up on Tuesday.
Words by Harry Trend (@HazaTrand) // Follow us on Twitter (@claretandview)