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Player Match Ratings: Bees leave it late to sting Villa!


John

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A Villa team that seem incapable of seeing out even the last 5 minutes of a game seemed to decide last night to try to see out the entire second half. We left it to the visitors to take the game to us rather than take the game to them in the second half having gone ahead on 19 minutes. As we know a one goal advantage is not enough for us and so it proved again last night.

We have now dropped seven 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, in the 87th minute against Forest and now in the 88th minute we would now have had 14 points rather than 7 and would have been in 4th rather than 17th place.  

After failing to win for a fifth successive time we are left with seven points from seven games. We now face an away game at Ipswich who for some reason still have a problem with us that dates back to season 1980-81 and in-form Newcastle at Villa Park who also have a problem or two with us of a more recent nature. So getting points on the board from these two games will if anything be harder on paper than was our last three games.         

This was our first league meeting with Brentford since season 1946/47 when we won 5-2 at home and followed that up with a 2-0 win at Griffin Park. Since then we have met in the FA Cup in 1953 when we drew 0-0 at Villa Park before winning the replay 2-1. I think we will need to win there again to make up for the points we dropped last night if we are to sustain a promotion challenge this season as well as at a few other grounds including our own more often than not!

To be honest Brentford deserved at least a point. They had more possession, corners, shots and shots on target. We gave a first half performance that was some way below the one we gave against Forest and were fortunate to have a one goal lead to show for it. In the second half we needed to go for a second to give us the cushion that we currently need to seal a win. Instead we dropped back, surrendered the initiative and hoped for a rare clean sheet that would see us hang on for a win. It was surprising that our visitors failed to score earlier but an equalizer looked increasingly likely and it inevitably arrived during the last five minutes of the game. Someone betting on our opponents scoring at that sort of time in games would currently have a very healthy profit for doing so by now!     

We had injuries both before and during the game to cope with but we were unable to do so and it seemed each substitution made it less likely that we would win this one.      

My player ratings from a game that led to a return to the boos at the final whistle with which we grew so accustomed last season and in which our home attendance fell below 30,000 for the first time this season are:

Pierluigi Gollini – 7 – Held a 44th minute Hogan shot after the striker had an opening following an Elphick error and deflected another shot from the same player into the side netting on 48 minutes after he had picked up a loose ball from an Elphick back header. A good steady performance.   

Ritchie De Laet – 5 – Substituted on 67 minutes having sustained an injury. Needs to show a bit more than he has done to date for me.  

Tommy Elphick - 6 – I’m not sure Egan’s 88th minute effort was going in before Tommy appeared to get the slightest of touches on it only inches from the goal line but if he had not done so Hogan was waiting unmarked to tap it in on the line in any case. Kaikai had got his cross in all too easily although both Bacuna and Gardner were on him, the ball evaded both Cissokho and the player he was marking before it fell to an unmarked Egan on the far post. Gollini moved quickly towards the striker who hit the ball across the goal towards our captain and Gardner who had left Hogan to try to keep out Egan’s cross/shot. He organises well but his own game was not quite error free today.       

James Chester – 6 – Gave a decent overall display.  

Aly Cissokho – 6 – Took a first half knock which had seemed likely to lead to Amavi taking his place. Solid enough at the back.   

Ashley Westwood – 5 – A much better first half performance and he seemed to relish playing in front of the bearded one. His second half display was not near to being as effective. He along with others dropped back in the second half allowing the visitors to dictate the rest of the game and the midfield area in particular.

Mile Jedinak – 6 – Looked the steadying influence that we need in our midfield particularly in the first half but he also dropped back in the second half and was playing just in front of the back four for much of that half which allowed the visitors too much room to play unhindered in the centre of the field.       

Jordan Ayew – 6 – His performance was some way off the excellent one he had produced against Forest but he lacked service and the ball did not quite run for him last night. Hit a nice cross towards Kodjia on the 74th minute that he was unable to quite get on the end of and then hit a shot well over a minute later.

Rudy Gestede – 5 – He really looks a lot better coming off the bench than he does when starting a game. De Laet found him on 21 minutes but his shot was held by Bentley. Rudy was then just wide with a 37th minute header from a nice McCormack cross. Did little else of significance.       

Ross McCormack – 6 – Substituted at half time having picked up a knock and his presence was much missed.    

Jonathan Kodjia – 8 – MOTM – The one bright light on a pretty dim night for us. Looked a significant threat to our visitor’s goal every time that he had the ball. Found by Gestede on the 5th minute but his near post shot was pushed out for a corner by Bentley. Picked up the ball near the line having been found by Jedinak just outside of the box. Jonathan than cut inside the box making an angle to shoot and not giving Bjelland an opportunity to get a challenge in before hitting an unstoppable 19th minute shot past Bentley’s outstretched hand into the top corner of the net. Made a good run across the edge of the box on 80 minutes before he forced a save from Bentley.

Substitutes:

Jordan Amavi –  5 - Replaced McCormack for the second half and was obviously uncomfortable playing in a role he seemed unaccustomed to playing. 

Leandro Bacuna – 4 - Replaced De Laet on 67 minutes. Failed to get into the game and this was a sad return to the sort of level of performance that he gave us all too often last season.

Gary Gardner – Came on for Gestede on 82 minutes so was not on quite long enough to make a sufficiently positive or negative impression to gather a rating.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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