Aston Villa are now with one win in eight games. Something needs to change.
Words by Harry Trend (@HazaTrand)
Birkir Bjarnason’s goal was enough for Villa to earn a point at Ashton Gate and move into the top half of the Championship table in a game where neither side deserved all three.
Bristol City started the brighter of the two sides, setting the tone for the first half. Former Villan Andreas Weimann headed over Hunts cross from close range.
But it was Villa who had the ball in the back of the net first. Unfortunately, as is modern football, the goalkeeper is always wrapped up in cotton wool; Tammy Abraham was adjudged to have fouled City keeper Niki Maenpaa in the process of heading it in.
With quarter of an hour gone our opponents were ahead; a gaggle of Villa defenders failed to clear the ball which resulted in Brownhill hitting a deflected shot past Orjan Nyland.
Moments later Weimann found himself with just Nyland to beat, luckily the Austrian fluffed his lines with a shot straight at the Norwegian.
It just wasn’t happening for Villa, Bruce’s side severely lacked invention in attack. Even our best chance in first-half normal time, a Johnathan Kodjia half volley over the bar, came after a punted ball from our own half.
So, it came as a surprise to everyone when our Bjarnason equalized in added time at the end of the first 45. Everyone apart from the Icelander, who met Conor Hourihanes free kick with a bullet header past the helpless Maenpaa.
Villa’s best spell in the game came at the start of the second period. Bjarnason nearly added to his tally but his swivelled shot was blocked for a corner. Soon after, Maenpaa palmed away a sweet half volley from John McGinn.
One of the golden rules of football is score while you’re on top, but to our detriment the rule wasn’t heeded as we slowly lost our urgency.
That was until Niclas Eliasson’s corner was met by a Bristol City head, fortunately, McGinn was on the post to clear.
To some extent this prompted a late surge from Villa. Grealish tested Maenpaa at his near post before Hourihane sent a curling shot just wide from range. In a game like this, the Irishman’s effort was never going to find its way to the back of the net.
It’s now one win in eight Championship games for Villa and Bruce, and if the Pride don’t put in a decent display at home to Preston on Tuesday it’ll start to feel like the season is slipping away from us.