Fan favourite Alan Hutton scored his second goal in claret and blue to ensure a first league win for Steve Bruce’s Aston Villa with a 3-1 victory over Hull City. Both Tommy Elphick and Ahmed Elmohamady opened their accounts after Evandro got the hosts up and running at the KCOM stadium.
Jack Grealish’s future marred the display which according to Bruce depends on Tottenham matching the price owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens are holding out for. Whilst negotiations are said to have begun, Daniel Levy – as of yet – hasn’t “reached a figure that the owners have blinked at”.
Whilst Villa’s number ten started alongside Conor Hourihane and Glen Whelan in the middle of the park, Albert Adomah and Elmohamady supported Jonathan Kodjia in the attack. Hutton and Neil Taylor occupied the full-back roles with skipper James Chester partnering Elphick at the back. Norwegian goalkeeper Orjan Nyland seems to have all but completed a move to the championship side, but Jed Steer fended off competition from new loan signing Andre Moreira to start in goal.
All corners of the KCOM stood in applause to show their respects to a young Tigers fan, who had tragically passed earlier in the week, which turned out to be a fitting moment for Brazilian midfielder Evandro to score for the hosts. Seemingly, Steer had cleared all the danger with a clean punch out of the box following a corner but with the ball falling to Evandro’s feet, he cleverly lifted the ball over Elphick in the Villa goal. The former Villa captain lacked commitment in an attempt to clear off the line.
Wake up calls shouldn’t be given so early in the season even if it was what we needed, as Elphick put his wrongs right only minutes later – nodding in a free header to level the score. With expert precision, the in-demand Grealish swung in a dangerous corner, before new Hull signing Jordy De Wijs lost Elphick, leaving a free header only four yards out. A muted celebration from the former Bournemouth man demonstrated the sides determination to take all three points away from East Yorkshire.
Villa was caught asleep once more within the first quarter of an hour as Jarrod Bowen was thwarted by Steer from only ten yards out. After progressive football from Daniel Batty, the midfielder picked out Frazier Campbell who slipped through Bowen, who couldn’t compose himself after Steer rushed off his goal line. Interestingly, it was Bruce who bought the 20-year-old to Hull after paying only £50,000 to Newport County for his services.
The balance of play swung as Villa looked to complete a swift comeback before half-time with the travellers holding sixty-six per cent of the ball. With limited purpose, it took until the thirtieth minute for Villa to threaten the Hull defence once more.
Irish internationals Whelan and Hourihane combined well on the right flank to carve open the hosts, before Conor’s pullback wasn’t converted by Kodjia. The Ivorian – keen to pin down his starting place – frustrated the Villa faithful as he opted not to pass to Elmohamady moments later. Breaking away deep in Hull’s half, the two Villa attackers failed to make the most of a two on two situations, with only a tame left-footed effort the end product of a promising move.
A stalemate at the interval meant Villa had to press the Hull City midfield further to regain the lime share of possession, which was regained by Hull in the later stages of the first half, dominating a seventy-three per cent. A strategy adopted by Villa in the first half was to use the channels where Kodjia could chase, but with limited options behind him, the ball simply wouldn’t stick at the right end of the pitch. As Grealish was fouled for the sixth time, Hourihane stood over a free kick within a fourteen yard distance from Alan McGregor’s goal. With the Scot beaten, only the woodwork denied Villa taking the lead on the hour mark.
The youthful exuberance of Andre Green complimented Grealish’s quality as it was no coincidence his arrival prompted more expansive football from the travellers. Hourihane – having come close moments earlier – picked out Elmohamady on the right wing and with the Egyptian driving into the box, he rifled below McGregor to put Villa in the driving seat.
Minutes later, having been converted into a right winger, the former Hull man picked up the loose pieces as McGregor cleared unsuccessfully. Fellow Scot Hutton raided down the right side, collecting the ball off Elmo before beating three amber mannequins to fire villa into control. A contender for goal of the season already!
A convincing result rather than performance sums up the night in Yorkshire. Starman Grealish was withdrawn by Bruce on the eightieth minute to the applause and cries of “Jack Grealish we want you to stay”. A brief appreciation back to the Villa faithful didn’t provide any further clues to the saga which will no doubt run far into Thursday’s 5 pm deadline.