Aston Villa comes away with all three points against Leeds United following a 1-0 win, courtesy of a Lewis Grabban headed goal.
On a weekend that has seen local rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers return to the Premiership, Villa played ahead of all those around them with a glimmer of hope that both Cardiff and Fulham would slip up and there would still be an outside chance of an automatic spot.
It wasn’t to be though, Cardiff picked up all three points while Fulham made it 21 games unbeaten with a 1-1 draw against local rivals Brentford.
The game was far from a classic but Villa never really looked in threat against a Leeds side that I would say was the worst we have come up against in our four meetings since our arrival in the Championship last season.
It took more than 10 minutes before Villa had their first sight of goal when Robert Snodgrass had a curling effort denied by young Leeds goalkeeper, Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
The young keeper will be one for the future but he is far from the finished article as he looked to struggle with early crosses and being able to keep hold of the ball.
The home side did take the lead despite the efforts of Peacock-Farrell on the half-hour mark when an inform Jack Grealish swung in a cross from the left for Grabban to beat Matthew Pennington in the air and plant the header in the corner.
Leeds did improve in the second half after a woeful first half but never really looked a threat to Sam Johnstone goal.
Grabban should have doubled his tally and Villa’s on the hour mark but he was denied by a smart reaction save from the Leeds goalkeeper and then he just about managed to deny Jonathan Kodjia on his rebound.
Villa now has a 10 point cushion between themselves in fourth and fifth place Middlesbrough but they are four points behind Cardiff in second who have a game in hand. Next up for Steve Bruce’s men is Ipswich Town next weekend.
Steve Bruce: “We did enough and sometimes you need to your fifth game in 13 days 1-0. I always thought we were comfortable and we just needed that second one; we’ve had one or two opportunities but in the end, I think both teams have run their race. We’re delighted. A 1-0 win is decent and we’ve done it without pulling up too many trees.”
Paul Heckingbottom: “We’ve got to play without fear, especially when we’ve got a young side. We did ok in the first half without the ball, but with the ball, we were a threat on the counter but we were loose. No disrespect to Villa, but that gave them their best opportunities.”
Credit to avfc.co.uk for the highlights.