We dropped another two home points yesterday having gone two goals ahead within the first ten minutes. Our opponents drew level after only 26 minutes of the game to burst our bubble. Their goals came from a lumbering striker who was not good enough for the team that are rock bottom of the league today. His two finishes were reminiscent of Shearer in his pomp and I am sure he never expected his name to be linked with a player of that quality albeit for a fleeting moment other than by someone who was having a chuckle at his expense. Sadly, all too often their former players return to the city and take perverse pleasure in shining against us, so it again proved yesterday when Donaldson’s brace cost us a much-needed win.
Our visitors arrived at Villa Park for our last home game of 2017 having gone 5 games without a win and having lost all but one of them. After yesterday we have gone 4 games without a win ourselves and the 4 points dropped at home in our last two home games may yet prove all too costly when the points are totalled at the season end.
What had started so encouragingly ended in seasonal disappointment. The Blades deserved their point and we never really looked like getting a winner against a team that pressured us and gave us no time on the ball after they had pulled us back to 2-2. Recoveries from injuries along with transfer window reinforcements just cannot come quickly enough for us.
I would take this opportunity to explain that my recent failure to post my home player match ratings after over twenty years of doing so was due to ill health which has prevented me taking my seat at Villa Park of late. It is also likely to I regret continue to do so in the near future which will in turn reflect on my ability to post my ratings as regularly as I have done previously.
My player ratings from a game that left us clinging to the play-off places by our fingertips are:
Sam Johnstone – 6 – Stood no chance with their first which was lobbed over his head from the edge of the box and their second went through his legs at the near post before going in at the far post. Got down to his left to keep out a 45th minute Lundstram effort from the edge of the box and then got a hand to a 50th minute Duffy shot from the edge of the box.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 5 – Did well enough but can he continue to keep out the Scottish Cafu?
James Chester - 6 – The better by some distance of our central defenders yesterday.
Mile Jedinak – 4 – Scored with a nice header but allowed Donaldson goal side of him for their first and then failed to clear a hopeful ball aimed towards the same player who gleefully ran onto the loose ball for their equalizer.
Neil Taylor – 6 – Solid enough at the back.
Glenn Whelan – 5 – No glaring error this time from this source.
Robert Snodgrass – 5 - His well placed 9th minute free-kick was powerfully headed into the corner of the net by Jedinak to give us the early two goal cushion that soon burst.
Conor Hourihane – 6 – Hit a shot just wide of the post from outside of the box on 41 minutes.
Albert Adomah – 6 – MOTM – Sent Moore the wrong way when coolly converting a 4th minute penalty sending the ball into the corner of the net to the keeper’s left. Headed a sweet 29th minute Elmohamady cross wide of the far post but he can’t really be expected to put each and every chance away can he?
Jack Grealish – 6 – Made only his second start of the season and received some harsh treatment particularly from the aptly named Basham. Wanted the ball and has it in him to do something with it I trust he will soon be increasingly dominant in our remaining games.
Keinan Davis – 5 – Brought down for our early penalty when Stearman rashly took both player and ball. Taylor played a lovely 12th minute ball to Adomah whose cross eluded Keinan who was outmuscled by a defender as he stretched towards the ball. Headed a 60th minute Hourihane cross over the bar. Held the ball up but lacks a goal threat and it was asking a lot for him to play as a lone striker against this sort of no-nonsense central defence. Needs someone playing alongside him.
Ritchie De Laet – 5 – Came on for Snodgrass on the 59th minute which did little to increase our hopes of finding a winner.
Gabriel Agbonlahor – Replaced Davis on 73 minutes and was not on long enough to earn any rating but did pick up another injury near the end.
Scott Hogan – Replaced Elmohamady on 73 minutes and was not therefore on long enough to gather a rating. Needs to start games alongside Davis starting on Boxing Day.
A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Promotion Year to all readers!