Aston Villa fell to their second defeat under Dean Smith. A Pawel Wszolek goal proved to be enough to give QPR all three points on Friday night.
Jonathan Kodjia replaced the injured Albert Adomah. John McGinn came into the fold after sitting out the trip to Carrow Road due to suspension. Smith persisted on resting Yannick Bolasie, with Ahmed Elmohamady operating on the right flank for the third consecutive game.
Another bright start
McGinn and Aston Villa started brightly, pressing the hosts into mistakes within the initial exchanges. The Scot rolled Australian Massimo Luongo on the third minute. He created enough space on the right flank to cut inside before fiercely striking towards goal. Slicing wide, McGinn rued a great opportunity to double his tally for Villa, since claiming the September Goal of the Month award.
Ten minutes later, the away side continued to attack in a fluid and dynamic fashion. Jack Grealish using both full backs to manipulate space in the final third. Taking the ball on the left flank, Neil Taylor found Tammy Abraham on the edge of the box. With superb strength, held off the QPR defence to lay off Grealish – but his strike dragged wide of the mark.
With limited potency at the top of the field, Villa held 71% of the ball. But it was a dead ball situation that almost unlocked the tight QPR backline on the 30th minute. Winning another foul, Grealish then struck a free kick from distance which almost caught Joe Lumley off guard in the R’s goal. Whipping the ball around the wall, Grealish struck the base of the post to the surprise of the keeper who had kept three clean sheets in his last four games.
Only minutes later, the away side would regret not creating enough with the control they had on the game. It took one long ball from Geoff Cameron to unlock the Villa back four. James Chester failed to spot Wszolek’s run from the right flank. The Pole composed himself before crashing the underside of the bar, all for goal-line technology to award the hosts a goal before the interval.
Smith opted to introduce Bolasie on the 60th minute but had to replace the impressive Birkir Bjarnason for Glenn Whelan due to injury. Villa started well once more, with Abraham missing a golden opportunity to pull the away side back on level terms. The Chelsea loanee connected with McGinn’s superb delivery from the left wing. But from seven yards out the ball flashed wide.
Since the introduction of Bolasie, the dangerous winger produced a number of excellent deliveries from the right wing. It just needed someone to get on the end of them.
More pressure on Lumley’s goal came in the 70th minute when McGinn’s tenacity forced a mistake from Luongo. His misplaced pass fell to Grealish on the left side, where the had Bolasie for company. The Everton loanee dropped his shoulder on the flank before firing towards the near post of Lumley, but the 23-year-old was agile enough to palm to safety.
Villa have Bolton up next at Villa Park. We now need to start turning these improved performances into wins.