Brentford, who were second-best for much of the game, came away with all three points after a gutless display from Villa, despite them taking the lead.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa returned to action this afternoon, for the first time this calendar year, playing the return fixture against Brentford. Gerrard’s side have struggled against Brentford in the past, although this was the first meeting under the new Head Coach.
With Tyrone Mings missing through suspension, Ollie Watkins missing through a suspected COVID case and a bench featuring six players under the age of 20, there was a lot of intrigue in the run-up to the game and how it may pan out.
The first real chance of the game came for Aston Villa in the 12th minute, as Buendia found Danny Ings on the edge of the box. The forward wormed his way into a shooting opportunity, but his attempt was blocked away for a corner which eventually came to nothing.
The next opportunity that came to Ings, however, was put away in trademark fashion. Emiliano Buendia did exceptionally well to turn away from a challenge before sliding in a through-ball for the forward, who fired with his left towards the bottom right. The ball slipped past the Brentford ‘keeper and nestled in the back of the net.
In the 29th minute, Jacob Ramsey was booked for a trip on Frank Onyeka after Bertrand Traore’s poor touch allowed the midfielder the chance to break forward. Onyeka himself was booked for a challenge on Emiliano Buendia, who was performing exceptionally well.
Just three minutes before the end of the half, Brentford found themselves back in the game. Aston Villa had been the dominant team for most of the half, but one chance was all the Bees needed. Wissa produced a great touch on the edge of the box, giving him time and space to curl an effort around Emi Martinez.
Following the goal, Aston Villa looked nervous – but they held on until the end of the half, including two minutes of added time, to go in at the break level – despite looking the stronger side for much of the half.
The sides returned to the field of play for the second half, neither having made any changes.
The first change of the game came in the 53rd minute, with Ghoddos replacing Canos – who was struggling after a challenge from Matt Target.
Bertrand Traore had the best chance of the opening ten minutes in the half, finding himself one-on-one with the ‘keeper, before firing into the side netting. Luckily, to save his blushes, he was flagged offside regardless.
Brentford were forced into another change six minutes later, with Mathias Jensen replaced by Shandon Baptiste in the 59th.
The game fell into a back-and-forth lull which saw both sides attacking, but fleshing out very little in terms of chances. Steven Gerrard’s first change of the evening came as he replaced Jacob Ramsey with Morgan Sanson.
The 75th minute saw Emi Martinez called into action to produce a fine save to deny Frank Onyeka his first goal in a Brentford shirt, after poor communication in Villa’s midfield allowed the midfielder a shot on goal. Ivan Toney was booked a minute later for a challenge from behind on Morgan Sanson.
In the 80th minute, Trézéguet returned to senior duty for the first time since April after his knee injury, replacing Bertrand Traore.
Two minutes later, and Aston Villa found themselves behind. A shot from Roerslev was saved by Emiliano Martinez, before he was on hand to fire at goal again for the rebound – which took a slight deflection before nestling into the back of the net.
Danny Ings almost immediately equalised with a sharp move from Villa, but the Brentford ‘keeper was on hand to palm his shot away.
Following this, Aston Villa continued to attack but to no avail – falling to their fourth de