A home loss to Sheffield Wednesday could well be the nail in the coffin for Steve Bruce. A goal of the season contender from super John McGinn turned out not to be enough. Goals from Marco Matias and Steven Fletcher meant Villa have only won once in their last eight competitive games – defeating Rotherham at home.
Bruce made one change from that game, with Albert Adomah replacing Anwar El Ghazi. Even though it was only four weeks since Bruce sanctioned the sale of the wide-man to Middlesbrough before the move broke down.
Without a meaningful attack let alone shot on goal in the first period, it was the visitors who took the game to Villa. Wednesday’s Adam Reach almost started as well as he did last season at Villa Park. He glided beyond Alan Hutton in the first moments of the game. With enough time to hang up a cross, Reach found Matias at the far post who nodded down to Fletcher. But the Scot couldn’t convert with a half-volley wide of the mark.
Only five minutes later and it was former Sunderland and Marseille forward who troubled Villa’s goal once more. This time he narrowly missed the target from an audacious overhead kick. Having dominated the early exchanges, Wednesday where reminded of the potent threat Villa hold at the other end of the field. Grealish floated out to the left flank before cutting onto his preferred side and striking towards the far post. Possibly the only attempt towards goal that got bums of seats in the first half, lacked enough curl to worry Cameron Dawson in the Owls goal.
Since three successive corners added even more pressure on the Villa defence, Mile Jedinak didn’t help the situation. He played a blind pass across the park allowing Reach to again scamper into space. Shifting down the right flank, Mile failed to keep up, eventually committing a foul on the winger. Apart from winning aerial duels, Mile cannot and should not be playing at centre-half. And if anyone should notice this it’s the former Manchester United defender, then again we are an unintelligent bunch…
Not that we have ever seen Villa come out a different side after a half-time team talk. So surprisingly enough the only attack we mustered within the first ten minutes was out of the class of Tammy Abraham. Receiving the ball on the right flank from Adomah, the Chelsea loanee advanced beyond Michael Hector, sliding the ball through his legs. But his pass to Grealish was foiled by Tom Less at the back post.
Moments after not converting that opportunity, Wednesday got what they deserved. Their fifth away goal in four outings. With Reach cutting inside from the right-hand side, his initial effort was blocked as Villa’s defence stood strong for all of two seconds, because the loose ball was met by Matias who drilled beyond Nyland from outside the box.
Goal of the season?
Whilst sections of the Doug Ellis rose in delirium, the Holte End roared back, encouraging Villa’s fightback. The home faithful got what they wanted minutes after falling behind. It came in exceptional fashion as Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross was firstly dealt with Ashley Baker. Then Daniel Pudil before John McGinn waited to connect as the Czech’s header dropped out the sky. Watching the ball, studying its momentum, McGinn shifted the weight of his body to lean over and strike through it so cleanly the ball rattled the top corner of the goal frame before bouncing over the line. A stunning goal at the Holte, on that, will live with the fondly with the Scot forever.
Lifting the crowd, McGinn’s strike drew Villa level but only for a brief period. After Fletcher missed a golden opportunity to regain Wednesday’s lead, he didn’t need a second invitation as he nodded passed Nyland on the sixty-seventh minute. Bruce was cut a lonely figure in the home dugout.
Pegged back once more, Villa tried unsuccessfully to draw level through Conor Hourihane. The Irishman’s strike cleared off the line as he picked up the loose pieces on the edge of the area. The travellers looked more likely to extend their lead before Villa managed to get one back. Joey Pelupessy spraying a thirty-yard ball, splitting Villa’s backline as Fletcher looked certain to score. However, his countryman Alan Hutton covered well to deny what looked a certain goal.