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Player Match Ratings: We win for the first time in 189 days!




Yesterday’s win was our first since March. We really had to break the losing habit quickly and we did it in our first home game of the season to provide a much needed confidence boost to both players and fans.

Alan Stubbs said following this defeat “We won’t be the last team to come here and get beat”. I hope he is proved right and that Villa Park soon becomes a fortress for us.

Rotherham gave a workmanlike performance yesterday but they offered little threat and we will face tougher tests this season at home and away. But we have to beat teams like this if we are to challenge for promotion this season and we did this with something to spare yesterday. We now need to claim a second home win on Tuesday night against Huddersfield which was something that proved beyond pre-season promotion favourites Newcastle yesterday.  

This is a new Villa team and of yesterday’s starters only six of them were with us last season. We have a new owner and a new management team. The fans responded yesterday by creating a positive atmosphere and by turning up in their numbers. The team achieved the result we needed and had been waiting for.  

This is the first time we have scored 3 goals in the league at Villa Park since May 2015. We faced the same opposition at Villa Park in our first home game after our 1967 relegation and won that one 3-1. Let us hope we get back where we belong at the first attempt this time as we did in 87-88.         

My player ratings from a first home game and win of the season are:

Pierluigi Gollini – 6 – A quiet afternoon but he was reliable when called upon. Gathered a shot from outside the box on the 46th minute at the second attempt, got down at the post 12 minutes later to save comfortably enough and made a couple of punched clearances.   

Leandro Bacuna – 6 – Leo got something he and I would not have anticipated yesterday some applause and a suggestion of being given another chance from the fans as he awaits his move to a Champions League outfit. He produced a decent enough performance.  

Tommy Elphick - 7 – He is a real leader on the field and looks a bargain. Organised our defence very well, led by example and was vocal when needed. He and the rest of our defence will face tougher tests than this one but this was a seriously promising home debut.  

James Chester – 6 – A solid start so soon after joining us.  

Aly Cissokho – 7 – Forced a one handed save from Camp on 5 minutes which kept out a shot that was otherwise heading for the top corner after Tshibola had found him on the edge of the box and hit the cross that produced our first goal.  

Ashley Westwood – 6 – Produced a solid performance.

Aaron Tshibola – 7 – A very promising home debut. Hit a shot wide of the post on 50 minutes after Grealish had cut into the box and unselfishly fed him rather than tried a shot himself. He hit a shot wide on 66 minutes from outside of the box after Ayew had squared the ball for him following a terrific run.

Jack Grealish – 8 – Scored a sublime goal in front of the Holte End on 84 minutes. Cissokho took a throw near the half way line that Gestede nodded nicely into Jack’s path. Jack then ran into the box pushing the ball wide of first a defender and then the keeper before stroking the ball home from a narrow angle to the despair of a defender behind him who had not quite been able to get a challenge in on him. This goal and aspects of his performance cannot help but give Jack the confidence he needed to shine this season. Had earlier been found by a clever touch by McCormack on 62 minutes and ran from just inside their half to the box before producing a weak finish.    

Jordan Ayew – 6 – Made a great run on 52 minutes before hitting an inviting cross for Gestede which he turned wide of the post. Some very good moments but he needs to produce them a little more frequently.    

Ross McCormack – 6 – Like Harry Kane did for England during the summer Ross is taking the lion’s share of our free-kicks and corners. As yet the results have not been too dissimilar. But these are very early days and once he has settled into his new surroundings I have no doubt that the goals will flow along with the assists. Ross did claim a big assist for our second goal which gave us the breathing space we needed to see this game out without undue alarm. He also had a 46th minute shot from outside of the box turned around the post by Camp. Nice to see a player that wants the ball!

Rudy Gestede – 8 – MOTM – Rudy’s performance yesterday suggested that he has found his level and that we may yet benefit from having him amongst our available striking options this season. Jack found Cissokho nicely inside of the box and his sweet 21st minute cross was headed beyond the reach of Camp and into the corner of the net by Rudy for our opening goal. He added a second in the final minute of first half stoppage time after Ayew had played the ball to McCormack on the edge of the box and played a clever first time ball past the Rotherham defenders for Rudy to run onto and to chip over the advancing Camp. Headed a Bacuna cross wide of the post on 29 minutes and failed to get a touch to a nice ball played across the face of the goal 4 minutes later.


Adama Traoré – Replaced Ayew on 74 minutes. His pace could prove too much for defenders at this level to cope with. He did not see quite enough of the ball to lead to his getting a rating yesterday.   

Gary Gardner – Came on for McCormack on 85 minutes so had insufficient time to earn a rating.

Andre Green – Replaced Jack on 92 minutes so also did not have the time on the field to gather a rating.       

Up the Villa!

John Lewis




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