Super sub: Aston Villa 1 – 1 Newcastle United

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The game began in open fashion, with both teams battling to create an early opening.

The hosts had their first chance within five minutes, when home debutant Adomah found Kodjia with a long pass. Kodjia cut inside but found his shot blocked by former Villa man Clark.

Fans united in the seventh minute, putting their growing rivalry aside to remember young Villa fan Jack Edwards, who sadly lost his battle with leukaemia last month.

Shelvey’s speculative shot from thirty yards out led to a corner but the visitors could not profit from it.

Shelvey continued to prove menacing, testing Gollini with a free-kick.

As the half went on, the Magpies looked increasingly dominant and Ritchie forced Gollini to use his body to block a shot after twenty-five minutes. As the Villans fumbled with the clearance, Diame had a shot on goal that proved wayward.

Minutes later, Elphick inadvertently diverted a cross intended for Gayle past his own goalkeeper to give the visitors the lead.

A drive from Dummett was deflected behind and an error from Elphick just outside the area gave Gayle the chance to double his side’s lead. Luckily, Gollini saved with his feet.

There was some booing as a poor first half from the hosts came to an end.

In a tactical substitution, Tshibola replaced Baker at the start of the second half, which began much as the first one had ended for Di Matteo’s men.

A dipping shot from Shelvey was parried by Gollini before a failed clearance allowed Yedlin to pounce. His shot was off target, however.

With Villa fans calling for Gestede, the change was made just after the hour mark. The Benin international replaced Adomah, leading to some raised eyebrows as fans wondered where the supply line would be.

The visitors worked well together, with Shelvey and Gouffran combining to create a chance for Diame in the box, although the Senegal international could only send the ball well wide.

In the sixty-eighth minute, an Ayew free-kick was met by Jedinak, who beat Sels with a header, only to be ruled offside.

After he cut inside and took his shot well, the woodwork denied Ayew once again after seventy-two minutes. His superb effort did bring the frustrated fans to life and, along with more vocal support from the stands, seemed to spur the home side on, as Di Matteo’s men pinned back the visitors and applied real pressure.

Tshibola found himself booked, deemed to have gone down too easily in the box.

Di Matteo threw Hepburn-Murphy into the fray after eighty-five minutes, taking Westwood off, knowing that his side had to go for goal.

The goal game a minute later, courtesy of Tshibola, who met Ayew’s cross at the back post and nodded home.
Jubilant, the summer signing ran towards the fans to celebrate his late equaliser, which was his first goal in claret and blue.

There came a breathless end to the game, with six added minutes in which the boys in claret and blue harried and chased but their poor first half performance meant the shares were spoiled.

Speaking post-match, Di Matteo said:

“Against Forest we turned the game around but, unfortunately, we conceded an equaliser.

Today we got it back and pushed on to find the second. There’s certainly a degree of belief that we’re still in the game and can win.

Our challenge is to turn the draws into wins because we have drawn too many games and that’s what the table reflects.”

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