Lewis Grabban’s late equalizer meant Aston Villa avoided their second home league defeat of the season against Derby.
Grabban’s strike doesn’t mean much in terms of the table, with automatic spots now mathematically out of reach after Cardiff’s win over Hull City. However, it serves as a great reminder to our players that persistence pays off.
We started the brighter of the two sides, but Derby took the lead just before the quarter hour mark. Former Villain Andreas Weimann easily muscled Neil Taylor off the ball before laying it back to Cameron Jerome, the target man making no mistake.
Soon after, Taylor came off for Alan Hutton due to injury. The latter would go on to have one of his best games in a Villa shirt.
Grabban is a man fighting for this seasons golden boot, but he couldn’t add to his tally in the first-half, nodding Adomah’s cross over the bar. Moments later, Jerome, who is on a hot streak of his own, couldn’t test Sam Johnstone with a point-blank header.
While Villa were doing most of the attacking, clear-cut chances, like when Scott Carson had to deny Jack Grealish with his legs, were few and far between. The Rams regularly had eight men in their own area to neutralise anything that came in from wide areas.
However, just before half-time, Lewis Grabban came almightily close – heading Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross shot onto the bar.
Derby’s most promising outlet on the day was Tom Lawrence, and he could’ve doubled Derby’s lead in the second-half. The Welshman cutting inside compatriot James Chester prior to forcing a low save from Johnstone.
That would be the last time Derby worked the Man United loanee, with Villa turning it up a notch after the introduction of Johnathan Kodjia.
Grealish had a couple of opportunities, but Hourihane had an even better chance to equalize when he volleyed the ball into the floor before it bounced over the crossbar from a few yards out.
It was getting frustrating.
Hutton, who by this point was playing as a makeshift left winger, couldn’t find the target in the air, before Grabban hit his header straight at Carson from close range.
But as mentioned before, persistence pays off. With 83 minutes gone, Grealish laid the ball off to Hourihane whose low driven shot was parried by Carson. In the following goalmouth scramble, it was the Captain Terry’s turn to provide, teeing up Lewis Grabban who smashed in his 20th goal of the campaign.
Yes, we probably deserved more from the game, but in the circumstances it’s a point gained. The fact that Derby were defending for most of the 90 shows we can dominate not only against the likes of Ipswich Town and Leeds, who have nothing to play for, but teams in the upper reaches of the league.
Next week Millwall, then the play-offs!
Words by Harry Trend (@HazaTrand) // Follow us on Twitter (@claretandview)