Our 5-game winning home run came to an end last night but we remain the only team in our division not to be beaten at home. We can thank the linesman who pointed out the hand ball from Liam Cooper that referee Roger East had missed or ignored in much the same way as had the Leeds defence and their manager for that. But justice was done when we scored our now familiar late goal to take a point.
We refreshingly started this game by pressing our visitors during the opening minutes. We shaded the first half but Leeds then bossed the second half. The first goal always looked as though it might be crucial and it was our visitors that claimed on the 54th minute only to be pegged back by a late equalizer.
We needed a better performance than this one against a Leeds side that are currently on a terrific run but we failed to produce it. What we did show was resilience and the ability to get something from a game in the last few minutes of it. Leeds will claim with some justification that they were worth a win. They had looked likely to get it for most of the game but it was Villa that ended up the more likely side to find a late winner.
My player ratings from a game we needed to win but could not afford to lose are:
Mark Bunn – 5 – I have always felt that he has an error in him waiting to come out and so it proved in the 54th minute when Jansson was left unmarked and unchallenged to put Leeds ahead. Bunn with Roofe’s outstretched leg nearby allowed the header to squirm through his hands and over the goal line. Was relieved to see the scorer’s shot rattle against the bar a couple of minutes later after a Chester header had fallen to him unmarked inside of the box. Did well to come out and block Sacko’s effort with his legs on the 77th minute.
Alan Hutton – 6 – Alan was steady at the back but he was the closest player to Jansson when he scored their goal without being challenged. Likes a cross as much as Count Dracula does.
James Chester - 7 – Headed a nice ball into the box from Amavi just wide of the post in the 32nd minute.
Nathan Baker – 7 – Another solid display.
Jordan Amavi – 5 – Was fortunate not to pay a heavy price when he lost possession inside the box when trying to let the ball go out for a goal kick on the 40th minute. Was also relieved to see Sacko’s 88th minute shot hit the bar after losing possession and being brushed aside by the striker who was a constant thorn in his side.
Jordan Ayew – 4 – Hit a shot wide on the 74th minute. Had a couple of fleeting moments but this was a noticeable drop on the performance he gave and the energy he produced when appearing as a substitute in our last game.
Ashley Westwood - 6 – Had a decent game particularly in the first half.
Mile Jedinak – 6 – A solid enough midfield performance and won more than his fair share of headers. Tired prior to his substitution and hit his usual share of stray passes.
Leandro Bacuna – 5 – Did not reach anything near the level he produced in his last outing.
Jack Grealish – 6 – Substituted on 49 minutes having been unable to run off a first half knock. Leeds became increasingly dominant in his absence.
Jonathan Kodjia – 7 – MOTM - Took the ball off Phillips in the middle of their half and then beat the same player before hitting a 30-yard shot that took a deflection off a defender before Green parried the ball away to his left. Three minutes earlier he was found on the edge of the box by a poor attempted pass from Phillips but Jansson did well to get across to block his effort that deflected wide of the post. Got in a cross in first half stoppage time that was too firm for anyone to get on the end of after some good work on the edge of the box. Had a 67th minute shot pushed away by Green.
He was as cool as a cucumber on the 86th minute when he sent Green the wrong way from the spot for our equalizer and the ball thudded into the right-hand corner of the net. He might have gone on to win it for us in the 91st minute when the ball ran to him on the edge of the box after an aerial challenge between Gestede and a defender but his shot deflected off Green’s shoulder to safety. Jonathan might have considered the alternative of playing the ball to the unmarked McCormack who was in a great position to tap it in on his left. Will be much missed during his coming absence on international duty.
Ross McCormack – 6 – Replaced Jack on 49 minutes. Played his part in the build up to our penalty award.
Rudy Gestede – 5 - Replaced Jedinak on 78 minutes in what may prove his last appearance for us. It was his head that Cooper decided to push the ball away from with his hand to concede a late penalty after McCormack had played the ball over his head for both players to challenge for.
Albert Adomah – 7 - Replaced Ayew on the 78th minute and gave us pace and a threat down the flank that we had been previously missing.
Up the Villa & A Happy Promotion New Year to all readers!