This forgettable game was settled by an unforgettable winning goal from Jack Grealish in the 88th minute.
Wigan came to Villa Park with limited ambition. They came to frustrate and to claim a point as will other teams as we climb further up the table this season. We started the game well and finished it even better but for over an hour this match appeared to have goalless draw written all over it until Jack struck with his stunning late goal. It is so nice to be scoring late goals rather than conceding them now!
We lacked movement up front from forwards who were starved of service by a midfield that lacked creativity. Wigan worked hard, got men behind the ball and on those occasions when this did not prove sufficient resorted to making strong/illegal challenges particularly on Jack Grealish and Jonathan Kodjia in an attempt to keep them both quiet. That worked pretty effectively for them during the first 87 minutes until we went ahead and claimed our fourth successive home win to move just 3 points off the play-off places.
We bounced back from defeat at Leeds as we so needed to do yesterday. We did not win with a swagger but successful teams win games when they are some way off their very best and this we did. I hope we also began another lengthy unbeaten or dare we hope a winning run yesterday? That will be put to the test at Norwich in midweek and at QPR next weekend.
My player ratings from a game that we collected only our second home win in nine league games against yesterday’s visitors are:
Pierluigi Gollini – 6 – A very, very quiet day at the office. Could have sat on a deck chair in the goalmouth for most of this game but it was not really the weather for that.
Alan Hutton – 6 – Worked hard and looked solid at the back if something less than a threat when moving into the Wigan half.
James Chester - 6 – Another solid and composed performance on a day when our defence was seldom tested.
Tommy Elphick – 6 – Tommy eased through this game with little cause for concern being provided by the visitors. That might not have been the case had Wigan been a little more adventurous and started the game with or introduced late substitute Will Grigg earlier than they did.
Jordan Amavi – 7 – Another encouraging display. He looks so confident and effective defensively of late and poses a threat when getting forward as he has always done. Clipped an effort just past the post on 7 minutes from inside of the box and Jaaskelainen dived low to his right to gather a shot from outside of the box 4 minutes later after he had picked up a loose ball from a corner.
Albert Adomah – 5 – Failed to make the same sort of positive impression on this game that he has done in others lately.
Gary Gardner - 5 – Put in a shift as he always does prior to his substitution but he has it in him to impose himself more upon opponents.
Mile Jedinak – 6 – Another solid midfield display. Opponents must feel like they have run into a brick wall when they are challenged by Mile. Hit a shot from the edge of the box on 72 minutes straight at Jaaskelainen who gathered the ball easily enough.
Jack Grealish – 7 – MOTM – Hit a spectacular winner to claim all three points for us in the 88th minute. A McCormack cross was headed out by a defender and picked up by Jack just outside the box. He then hit an unstoppable shot past Jaaskelainen and into the top right hand corner of the net.
Jordan Ayew – 4 – Jordan was disappointingly quiet again yesterday and needs to make a bigger impact on games like this. Lost the ball more than once and noticeably a couple of times near the end when we particularly needed to keep possession.
Jonathan Kodjia – 5 – Might have opened the scoring for us in the 14th minute when Adomah found him nicely inside the box but his attempted chip over Jaaskelainen was kept out by the keeper’s outstretched arm.
Ross McCormack – 6 – Replaced Gardner on the hour and introduced a bit of much needed energy.
Rudy Gestede – 4 - Replaced Adomah on 73 minutes. Rudy provided no threat up front and made little if any positive impression after coming off the bench.
Leandro Bacuna – Replaced Jack in the 4th minute of stoppage time so he was not on long enough to gather any rating.
Up the Villa!