Yesterday’s third successive home win extended Steve Bruce’s unbeaten run to seven games. It also lifted us into the top half of the table and put us within touching distance of a place in the top six.
Cardiff have not won at Villa Park since 1954 but they started strongly and reacted well to going a goal down after 24 minutes by drawing level 4 minutes later. Our visitors gave the sort of determined no-nonsense display that is expected from any team managed by Neil Warnock. It’s not pretty to watch but it is effective and it will be likely to be enough to keep our visitors up this season. On this occasion, another goal from Kodjia and a late penalty secured the points for us.
We will see much more entertaining games at Villa Park this season but these are the sort of games that teams who go on to win promotion emerge from with the points. It is such a relief to see us winning games again at what is fast becoming fortress Villa Park again. It is also a bonus to see us score three goals when we have otherwise not played particularly well.
My player ratings from a game that we scored three goals in for the first time since our opening home game of the season are:
Pierluigi Gollini – 6 – Got down well to hold a 46th minute header from Hoilett.
Alan Hutton – 5 – Cardiff found it easier than it should have been to make some decent runs down his side in the first half and Alan needed to show a little more alertness when he was slow in trying to get back to cover the unmarked Lambert on the edge of the box for their equalizer.
James Chester - 8 – MOTM – Did not put a foot wrong at the back.
Nathan Baker – 6 – Looked solid prior to his half time substitution due to injury.
Jordan Amavi – 8 – Continues to look better with every game and claimed a big assist for our first goal. Hit a left footed shot from the edge of the box on 33 minutes that was blocked by a defender.
Albert Adomah – 7 – Scored our opener on 24 minutes. Amavi made a nice run before hitting a low cross to the far post where Albert took a touch before coolly slotting the ball past Amos.
Ashley Westwood – 6 – Lost a challenge that he had started favourite to win in the build up to their equalizer but put in a decent enough shift other than that.
Mile Jedinak – 7 – Another very strong midfield performance.
Jack Grealish – 7 – Earned us a late penalty when he was brought down inside the box by Morrison after Kodjia had played a nice ball for him to run onto. Our visitors had found Jack too tricky to handle when he had the ball at his feet and resorted to stopping him in the only reliable manner they could think of namely by bringing him down. They eventually paid the price for that tactic having Peltier sent off on 84 minutes and conceding the late penalty that clinched our win.
Jordan Ayew – 4 – Very, very quiet yesterday. Lost the ball a little too often and did not seem to be looking too hard to impose himself upon the game
Jonathan Kodjia – 7 – Got on the end of a ball that Baker had played from well inside his own half on 11 minutes and made space for a shot that took a slight deflection off Peltier before flying just wide of the far post. Had a decent goal scoring opportunity on 85 minutes but hit the ball wide of the post. Scored our second on 39 minutes. Adomah was given a second opportunity to put a cross in and hit the bouncing ball to the far post where Jonathan climbed well above a statuesque defender to plant his header past the keeper.
Tommy Elphick – 6 – Started the second half as Baker’s replacement and looked solid.
Gabriel Agbonlahor – 6 - Replaced Ayew on 62 minutes. Grealish put him clear with a lovely ball on 79 minutes but Amos came out to block his shot and he then scuffed an attempted cross from the rebound. Booked shortly after coming on for his reaction to a decent penalty appeal that he had played a big part in being denied.
Rudy Gestede – 6 - Replaced Adomah on 74 minutes. Sent Amos the wrong way and hit the ball into the left corner of the net from the spot in the 90th minute to extinguish any hopes our visitors may have entertained of claiming a stoppage time equalizer. I must admit that I was more than a little worried when he was the one that stepped up to take it though.
Up the Villa!