We gained a point from a losing position rather than lost points from a winning one for a change yesterday.
We were nothing short of appalling in the first half and made it all too easy for Hull. Given our form of late, more than a few of us could see this one coming. Chester’s timely goal came just before half time and it gave us some grounds for hope where there had previously been none.
If there was anything positive to be taken from this game, it was that we awoke in the second half to come back from two goals down to claim a point. A point was not enough however, and Hull showed that they are not quite as good as their 6-game winning run might have suggested when they were belatedly put under some pressure yesterday. What they do have is the confidence that a good run of results brings in comparison to the lack of it and the anxiety that we currently suffer from due to our own ongoing dismal run.
Unfortunately, although there was plenty of time left after our equalizer to complete the recovery and to take all three points, we didn’t really look like doing so and the team seemed to lack the belief that they could go on to win the game. It seemed many of them, unlike the fans were perhaps a little too readily content with another “Desmond”.
What has happened to the Villa that won at Derby, Boro and deserved to win at the Albion? We have clearly missed both Jack and Axel but to take just 7 points from our last 7 games is simply not good enough.
We now find ourselves in the bottom half of the table and 7 points adrift of sixth place. Had we managed 14 points from our last 7 games (which didn’t seem quite so unlikely back then) we would have 46 points rather than 39 and would now be 6th rather than 13th. We would also be within touching distance of the top 2 rather than having all but written off any lingering hopes of making the play offs.
Let’s hope we can win another one of the games that appeared winnable a few short weeks ago next weekend. Hopefully we can use that to start the winning run that we need to start sooner rather than later, if not to start a late promotion run to give us some pride back. Not giving our visitors a 2-goal start would go some way to achieving that against bottom of the table Ipswich.
My player ratings from a game that left us top of the bottom half of the table once again are:
Lovre Kalinic – 5 – Beaten low at his left-hand post by Bowen’s first from the edge of the box on 27 minutes and he will be disappointed by that as were we. Had little chance with their second, with the unmarked Evandro’s well hit shot deflecting off Taylor on the line into the roof of the net. Blocked a 25th minute header from Burke at his near post. He then prevented us from surrendering all 3 points to the visitors on 90 minutes with a superb save from a point-blank Martin shot.
Alan Hutton – 5 – His cross produced our second goal.
James Chester - 6 – Gave us a lifeline when he got his head to Hourihane’s 45th minute free kick. Did incredibly well to hook Elphick’s deflection on a Grosicki shot off the line in the 8th minute after Hourihane had lost possession at the start of the move.
Tommy Elphick – 6 – Produced another steady enough performance in the centre of our brittle defence.
Neil Taylor – 5 – Produced an improved second half display. One strong second half challenge was rather memorable, and he did very well to get back to clear a dangerous cross from the 6-yard box on 73 minutes. He stuck out a leg in an attempt to poke the ball clear on the edge of the area, but it invitingly fell straight to Bowen a couple of yards to his left from where he hit their opener.
Birkir Bjarnason – 4 – He put himself about but has looked a pale imitation of the player he was earlier this season since his return from injury. Headed a 49th minute Hutton cross wide of the far post. A couple of times yesterday as he chased after and wrestled down opponents in the middle of the field, he looked more like a Keystone cop from the silent movie era rather than an international footballer. Might be worth another shot in the deeper role that Conor has been trying to fill. Substituted on 75 minutes.
John McGinn – 8 – MOTM – Ran the show and battled gamely on but others around him declined to follow his excellent example for far too long. Kept trying to move us forward, worked tirelessly and shone brightly throughout the game. Hit a 56th minute shot wide from an Abraham cross and hit a shot from outside of the box over 12 minutes later.
Conor Hourihane – 5 – Hit a perfectly placed free kick for our first but he clearly cannot fill the deep midfield role where he looks uncomfortable and a bit of a fish out of water. He works hard but lacks the pace of some opponents he comes up against and is unfamiliar with what is expected from him in this role. His place in the team should be in the opposition half, where he has been effective rather than in our own where he is not.
Albert Adomah – 3 – Only began to look partly interested in the second half after what I’m sure will have been a quiet word from the boss during the interval. He was substituted on 59 minutes as understandably Dean’s patience with him had been exhausted some time earlier. Made little to no contribution during the first half.
Yannick Bolasie – 3 – See Albert’s rating above. Yannick mirrored his none performance and I found myself checking half way through the first half that he was still on the field given the scarcity of his contribution to the game.
Tammy Abraham – 7 – This game should have been a celebration of Tammy’s decision to continue his loan spell with us but our sorry performance last week as well as in the first half yesterday unfortunately put paid to that. Suffered from a lack of service in the first half but always looked for the ball and hit our 64th minute equalizer when after having his first attempt at a low cross from Hutton blocked by a defender, he stepped over him to hit the ball past Marshall at the second attempt.
Anwar El Ghazi - 5 – Replaced Bolasie on 59 minutes. He was on the bench today having given a couple of the sort of performances that Albert and Yannick produced today since his terrific display at The Hawthorns last month. This was a somewhat brighter display.
Jonathan Kodjia - 5 – Came on for Adomah on 59 minutes and provided a little of the energy that we had been lacking.
Andre Green – 6 - Replaced Bjarnason on 75 minutes. Showed some pace and desire on his return from his loan at Portsmouth but he also hit an 86th minute cross over from close range when a winner looked his for the taking.
Up the Villa!