I think that we are all growing a little more accustomed to that winning feeling that has been absent from Villa Park for far too long. We have now gone five league games unbeaten since the arrival of Steve Bruce and have gathered 11 points from a possible 15 which is promotion form.
Brucie has got us organised and appears to have stamped out that habit of conceding late goals that had cost us so dear earlier this season. Our new boss gets the best out of the players that are available to him and has done this since his arrival as he did with his previous clubs. Steve Bruce might have been pleasantly surprised to hear his name being sung with such gusto by the Holte End yesterday but I think this could well become a very regular occurrence.
This was a game that looked on paper as a likely home win. So, it proved but only after we had gone a goal behind due to a well taken headed goal from the free-scoring Gallagher who is on loan from Southampton. We at best matched our visitors in the first half and there was little to choose between the two teams until two clinical finishes from Kodjia gave us a second successive home win for the first time since May 2015.
My player ratings from a game that cemented our position as the only team in our division not to have tasted a home league defeat this season are:
Pierluigi Gollini – 6 – Did well to keep a 20th minute header from Gallagher out at the post and helped a Marshall free-kick from the edge of the box over the bar 5 minutes later. Was left flat footed by Gallagher’s goal which found the corner of the net.
Alan Hutton – 5 – His final ball was again found wanting.
James Chester - 7 – A very calm and assured display.
Nathan Baker – 7 – Faced a difficult opponent in Gallagher who only once got the better of him when he climbed above him to put them ahead.
Jordan Amavi – 7 – He is looking better with every game.
Albert Adomah – 7 – Provides a wide option for us. Played in some nice crosses and made some decent runs forward yesterday.
Gary Gardner – 6 – Miscued on the third minute when an Adomah corner unexpectedly found its way to him past the group of players that lined up in front of him. Hit a powerful shot from outside of the box on the 61st minute that Steele turned around the post. Brings something to our midfield that we had been missing and looks like he is beginning to feel increasingly comfortable in our starting line-up.
Mile Jedinak – 7 – Mile is now looking like the player we had expected to see from the start of this season. Produced another solid encouraging display yesterday.
Jack Grealish – 6 – Earned us a penalty that led to our equalizer with a nice run into the box on 57 minutes that was only ended when he was brought down by Greer.
Jonathan Kodjia – 8 – MOTM – Had a 23rd minute effort punched away by Steele and hit an Adomah corner that fell to him over the bar on 35 minutes. Stepped up with confidence to hit a powerful well struck spot kick into the corner of the net which evaded the reach of Steele on 57 minutes. Hit our winner on 70 minutes but took a knock in doing so that led to his substitution. Jedinak found him wide and he ran towards the near post where he did so well to thread the ball past Lowe and Steele inside the far post with the inside of his right foot.
Ross McCormack – 5 – Had a 42nd minute header at the far post from an Adomah cross saved by Steele. Was flagged offside on the hour when he somehow contrived to hit the ball wide from very close range. Turned well and hit an effort that beat Steele on 64 minutes but hit the side netting.
Gabriel Agbonlahor – 6 – Was our first substitution when he replaced McCormack on the 68th minute. This represents a surprising rapid return to the fold. The player might not have anticipated this or the warm reception he was given by supporters upon taking the field. Did as well as could be expected considering his need for game time and match fitness.
Ashley Westwood – 5 - Replaced Kodjia on 74 minutes to solidify our midfield with the points ours to hold onto.
Tommy Elphick – Replaced Grealish on 90 minutes to help shore up our defence in stoppage time but was not on long enough to gather a rating.
Up the Villa!