Aston Villa were deserved victors on the South coast this afternoon, as goals from Matty Cash and Ollie Watkins saw Gerrard’s side pick up all three points.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa returned to action this weekend, facing Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium at a delayed time of half three due to the claret and blue team coach finding itself stuck in traffic on the way down south.
Gerrard’s side didn’t really get going in the opening fifteen minutes – in the attacking third at least. Defensively, Aston Villa seemed sound aside from the odd long ball down the flanks.
The first yellow of the game went the way of Brighton’s Marc Cucurella, for his second challenge of the game, as he stopped John McGinn in his tracks as the Scot raced down the right flank.
With virtually Aston Villa’s first attempt of the game, they scored. Matty Cash picked up a cleared ball at the edge of the box, chesting it down and firing on the half-volley towards the far post. The ball bounced off the post and into the back of the net, as Cash wheeled away and revealed a heartfelt message written on his undershirt. He was booked for his celebration.
Both Trossard and Douglas Luiz were booked for a collection of off-the-ball events in the 25th minute.
Jacob Ramsey came close shortly after, bursting into the box before working his way to the far post before firing towards goal. Joel Veltman produced a fine block for Brighton to deny the Villa youngster.
The game seemed to be on tenterhooks due to poor refereeing. Six minutes before the half, both Tyrone Mings and Ollie Watkins were given yellow cards after a tussle between Watkins and Cucurella.
After a period of comfortable possession, and a last-ditch Brighton corner, Aston Villa went in ahead at the break.
Both sides returned to the pitch for the second half without any changes.
In the 49th minute, Philippe Coutinho almost doubled Aston Villa’s lead. The midfielder fired towards the near post with a free-kick, his effort curling towards the open side of the goal – but Brighton’s ‘keeper Sanchez was able to scramble across his goal-line and palm the ball away.
Matty Cash almost bagged a second in the 56th minute, producing a terrific burst forward to connect with a Coutinho long ball, but his effort fired just wide of the far post.
Brighton’s Joel Veltman was booked for a rough challenge on Philippe Coutinho, before the defender then booted the ball away. This levelled the sides bookings, with both teams having four booked players.
The home side were the first to look to their bench in the 63rd minute, with Jakub Moder being replaced by Danny Welbeck.
In the 68th minute, an exceptional long ball down the pitch from Tyrone Mings found Ollie Watkins – and the ball had completely dismissed the entire Brighton defence. Watkins fired with his second touch, with his left foot, and the ball settled into the back of the net.
Four minutes later, and Steven Gerrard opted for his first change of the afternoon – replacing Douglas Luiz with Morgan Sanson.
With 10 minutes remaining, Ashley Young replaced Danny Ings. In the 86th minute, 18-year-old youngster Tim Iroegbunam came off the bench to make his first team debut for Aston Villa, replacing Philippe Coutinho.
After three minutes of added time, Aston Villa were victors – and took home a well deserved three points.