Aston Villa picked up their first win in four Championship games with a comfortable 3-0 victory over 10-man Reading at Villa Park last night.
Steve Bruce’s men had only managed a single point in their previous three outings so it was vital that they returned to winning ways.
Bruce bought Scott Hogan, Conor Hourihane, Ahmed Elmohammady and some peoples man of the match Birkir Bjarnasson back into the side. Something many fans had been calling for but for some reason, the coaching staff had other ideas.
Reading has a decent record against Villa, winning on the two previous encounters but it wasn’t to be and I would go on to say they are the worst side we have come up against so far this season.
Despite the early dominance, Villa looked nervous and seemed to lack ideas as they have done recently. Constantly looking to go out wide instead of through the middle has begun to make the look a little predictable.
Decent defending from the away side and poor finishing from the home side pretty much summed up the first half. Just take a look at Neil Taylor’s effort midway through the half!
The Royals looked like they had come for a point by sitting very deep with very little attacking threat but when David Edwards was sent off for a second bookable offence for what looked a mindless foul it was just a matter of time for the home side.
Just a few minutes after the sending off, Reading had to thank their goalkeeper, Vito Mannone, who denied Hogan on two occasions before casually catching a long-range effort from Jack Grealish.
Villa got off the mark quickly into the second half when Grealish set up Robert Snodgrass who found himself space before laying the ball into the path of Bjarnason to score with a sublime swerving shot into the top left-hand corner.
Reading were hopeless and appeared to be going through the motions and Villa soon doubled their lead just after the hour mark when Hourihane got his head on the end of a short cross from Snodgrass.
The rout was complete with 20 minutes left on the clock when Hogan took advantage of a stranded Mannone who was yards out of his goal to score with a low shot.
An added bonus for Bruce was the introduction of Jonathan Kodjia who has been missing since October.
Villa is now seven points behind second-placed Cardiff who have a game in hand but more importantly have a nine-point gap between themselves and Bristol City in 7th.
Steve Bruce: “There are seven games to go and there is a chance we can win promotion and we remember we take on second-placed Cardiff at home next week. After a difficult couple of weeks, there was a freshness about the team and I was very pleased with the performance against Reading,”
Paul Clement: “We were under pressure for a long time but we forgot to attack. The timing of the first goal so early in the second half was a big blow and ultimately we shot ourselves in the foot.”