Aston Villa’s five-match unbeaten run come to an end yesterday at Villa Park as Jaap Stam’s Reading side took another step closer to securing a place in the playoffs.
Although it was a very below-par performance from the home side it was still disappointing to see but I guess when we have ridden our luck a little over the past few weeks it was always going to happen sooner or later.
Reading still have everything to play for while most Villa supporters would happily finish this season after next week’s local derby with Birmingham City. For Steve Bruce, it is all about being prepared for next season now because anything but promotion would be a failure from both his point of view and the clubs.
Joseph Mendes opened the scoring after just six minutes for the Royals. Lewis Grabban was given way too much space to pick out Mendes, who equally had plenty of time on the ball to pick his spot past Sam Johnstone in the Villa goal.
Villa’s top goalscorer Jonathan Kodjia went close on two occasions before the hosts got back on level terms on 14 minutes.
Henri Lansbury’s classy touch from Mile Jedinak’s long-range drive forced quite a remarkable save from goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi but the goalkeeper was in no man’s land from the resulting corner. Conor Hourihane crossed the ball and captain James Chester leapt above anyone else to equalise.
The away side was the better side so it was no real surprise when they restored their lead. It was quite disappointing that it took just 19 seconds into the second half despite Villa restarting the game. They won possession and Grabban broke down the right, who again crossed for Mendes to tap home from close range.
The hosts had a claim for a penalty when Jedinak’s shot cannoned off several Reading players but it fell on deaf ears with the officials. Scott Hogan then fired a great chance wide from a Jedinak cross as he continues to struggle in a Villa shirt.
Any faint hopes of a comeback were ended when Leandro Bacuna was penalised for a silly pull on Liam Kelly which resulted in a penalty for Jaap Stam’s men. Grabban stepped up and slotted a low spot-kick past Johnstone.
This was Readings first ever victory at Villa Park, in their 11th attempt.
The boss reacts
“The one thing we have prided ourselves on in this good run has been our ability to keep a clean sheet.
All of a sudden that has gone out of the window with some awful, awful mistakes.
We have made far too many mistakes and it’s turned into one of those awful days.
We have made more errors today than we have in the past two months. Unfortunately, we never recovered.
It got worse as the afternoon wore on. We gave ourselves a mountain to climb in the first half and we then did it again straight from the kick-off.
Reading punished us.”
Up next for Villa is a trip to the capital to take on another playoff hopeful in Fulham on Easter Monday. Bruce is sure to make a few changes with two games in quick succession. Both he and the travelling supporters will be hoping for a much better performance. And result.