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Player Match Ratings: Another very costly late goal!



Aston Villa have now dropped five points due to conceding goals during the last 5 minutes of games this season. Had we seen these games out rather than conceded goals in the 85th minute against Sheffield Wednesday, in the 86th minute against Huddersfield and now in the 87th minute against Forest we would now have had 11 points rather than 6 and would have been in 5th rather than 17th place.  

We are currently just 2 points clear of the relegation places and 10 points behind the early league leaders. Our next game against Brentford has begun to have the look of a “must win” game about it.

With such a large number of new signings and a lingering hangover from the pitiful relegation season that we had to go through last season it was perhaps asking a lot for us to hit the ground running from day one. Six points from six games is nevertheless just not good enough. A point a game over the course of this season would put us in a relegation battle for a second year. I am confident that the players we have are too good for that and will prove it as they become more familiar with playing with each other but last season demonstrated that a none winning habit can be hard to break and with each point we drop our confidence takes another hit.       

This first meeting between European Cup winners outside of the top flight ended all square. We had the best of the first half and this was even more the case in the second. The woodwork twice denied us but we did the hard work by coming back from a one goal deficit to lead with only 16 minutes to go only to concede a late equalizer and drop another 2 home points. Forest will be happy with their point but we really needed all three. Our two goals in 2 second half minutes came from our 26 attempts on goal where Forest scored with all but one of their goal attempts. On another day we could have had five and once again the rub of the green went against us. But we need to start making our own luck. The two we did get came from McCormack and Gestede who have now scored seven goals in their last seven games against yesterday’s opponents. How they must be looking forward to the return trip to Nottingham.   

We clearly need to start seeing games out when we have only 5 minutes of normal time remaining. At the moment we seem to need a two goal cushion to be able to win a game. We seem to have it in us to concede a late goal that undoes all of the good work that has gone before it in each game. We need to start winning games at home and away if we are to get out of the bottom half of the table and then challenge for a play-off place but preferably a top two finish. One win in our first six games was what we got last season we need to get the winning habit and the confidence that brings sooner rather than later.      

My player ratings from a game that exposed our fragility near the end of games, a lack of midfield creativity and our present need to score 3 goals to win a game are:

Pierluigi Gollini – 6 – Substituted at half time due to an injury he sustained on 28 minutes when bravely diving at full length to punch the ball beyond the reach of Lansbury.   

Ritchie De Laet – 6 – Showed he has an Icelandic-like long throw and looked decent on those occasions he did venture forward. 

Tommy Elphick - 6 – Solid enough.    

James Chester – 6 – Beaten too easily on the edge of the box for their equalizer.  

Aly Cissokho – 6 – Hit a couple of decent crosses and had a shot deflected over the bar off a defender when an 89th minute ball from McCormack dropped to him near the far post. Was a touch fortunate that the card he was shown on 85 minutes was yellow when a rush of blood between Lithaj and himself left both of their heads all but touching.  

Ashley Westwood – 5 – Failed to show the sort of creativity we were looking for yesterday and I would guess that his starting place will be under serious threat after this from Jedinak. Hit a long range shot on 40 minutes that was gathered easily enough by Stojkovic.

Gary Gardner – 5 –  Did not make the sort of impression he would have hoped for against the team that he has spent a lot of time playing for on loan. I would anticipate Tshibola assuming he is fit to play by Wednesday like Jedinak above may well re-claim his starting place for the Brentford game. Clipped a shot over the bar after being found by Grealish near the edge of the box on 51 minutes.       

Jack Grealish – 7 – Jack had us on the edge of the seat when he moved the ball forward with some purpose. Jack did not anticipate an 84th minute McCormack free kick dropping into his path but turned the ball towards goal which Stojkovic gathered comfortably underneath the bar.  

Jordan Ayew – 8 – MOTM – Claimed assists for both of our goals. Westwood played a sweet ball to him in the 4th minute but he failed to get a shot in on goal, he then deflected a 34th minute Cissokho cross just wide of the post off his body before running into the box and shooting wide of the near post on 42 minutes. Jordan rattled the crossbar with a powerful shot from the edge of the box in the 59th minute and hit a bouncing shot wide of the post on 69 minutes.       

Ross McCormack – 7 – Hit the post from very close range on 33 minutes when he had looked likely to turn the ball in. Ayew had run to the edge of the box before playing the ball wide to Kodjia who then played the ball across the goal for Ross to meet at the far post. Ross was later found by Grealish on 46 minutes and curled a shot from the edge of the box that flew just wide of the post. He climbed well at the far post to get his head to a nicely weighted cross from Ayew on the 71st minute which Stojkovic luckily kept out with his left hand. Ross then scored our equalizer on 72 minutes hitting his measured shot through the despairing Mancienne and past Stojkovic after Ayew had fed the ball to him just inside of the box.    

Jonathan Kodjia – 7 – Powered a far post header from a 43rd minute Ayew cross that Stojkovic struggled to prevent going over the line which goal line technology was not available to clarify yesterday. He then got on the end of a 63rd minute McCormack free kick which Stojkovic dived to his left to keep out. Jonathan climbed well at the far post on 78 minutes heading a Cissokho cross just over and was very unlucky on 91 minutes to see his header from a Grealish corner deflect inches over the bar off Mancienne. Once he gets one he will get more.


Mark Bunn –  5 - Replaced Gollini for the second half. Will Steer get the odd game on our bench at some point?  

Rudy Gestede – 7 - Came on for Gardner on 65 minutes and hit our second on 74 minutes which should really have been our winning goal. He got a foot to Ayew’s cross and with his second touch hooked the bouncing ball down and into the net. This was a well taken goal.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis


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