Villa held on for 3 more points in a tasty affair with Leicester City at Villa Park. A game that had some good attacking football by both sides and some overly heavy tackles ended with the ref dishing out 8 yellow cards and a red one.
Villa started brightly, but in the final third, the ball was being moved around a little deliberately making life easier for Leicester with two debutants in the back four.
Eventually, Villa got the ball to Benteke and his shots were narrowly wide. As soon as Villa got on top, Leicester took the lead. Mahrez was given a lot of room on the right and drifting in passed two Villans before hitting a shot that just caught Clark’s foot sending Guzan off balance and he could only spill the ball to the goal hungry ULLOA who easily side-footed home his 6th goal, but 1st in ten games.
The Villa looked a little shell-shocked, but the players gathered themselves to work on getting even. Gabby was fouled outside the area and Westwood curled in a lovely free-kick to the penalty spot and CLARK raced in unchallenged 4 yards to meet the ball just beyond the spot and get down low to steer the header exactly where he wanted it.
Both teams tried to get down and play, but Villa were still too slow and Leicester seemed more likely to score with Vardy causing Okore a lot of trouble.
Just 5 minutes before the break Leicester caused the game to hit a first of many flashpoints, while Schlupp, N’Zogbia and Wasilewski had all been guilty of persistent fouls, it was Vardy’s challenge on Westwood that had Guzan running out at full sprint to get into the forwards face. The ugly tackle from behind has been almost eradicated by the league as it is a straight red punishment. The reason it was made so mandatory is that it causes horrific injuries. This was a textbook case. Westwood was stretchered off with a serious knee injury and Vardy was allowed to play on with a yellow card. Villa players were beyond livid and retribution was on their mind. Three minutes later the chance happened when Ulloa got passed Cissokho, the ball came out a little bit and Clark cleared the ball and took out Ulloa with a tackle former Villan Stan the Wham Lynne would have approved; hard but fair. Of course Leicester didn’t see things that way, thinking there was no difference from Vardy’s, but it was night and day. Agbonlahor dead legged Ulloa when he came back on and at half time it was obvious he wasn’t coming back out.
There was a difference to Villa in the second half; faster to move the ball around, earlier balls into Gabby or Benteke. Benteke found himself in space and picked out Cleverley, but the Utd loanee over hit his shot into the Holte End. Richardson played Benteke through 1 on 1 with Scmeichel but the keeper smothered his shot.
Substitute Nugent powered a volley that almost caught Guzan out, but the keeper finger-tipped the ball around the post. Schlupp upended Hutton twice in the second half, leaving the right back in pain and finally received a card. Cleverley, also was in the wars limping down the tunnel to be replaced by Grealish, who was fouled by Cambiasso on his first touch, the Argentine having just been booked for a professional foul on Gabby.
With Villa’s changes, the slower passing was back and the early ball to Benteke was just a memory and Leicester who had been hitting Villa on the counter most of the game went into the ascendancy believing a goal was on. It was Villa that struck on the counter attack. Gabby got the ball on the touchline deep in Villa territory, it looked as though he was going to lose possession, but as he had done for much of the game, he used his strength to peel away. He ran 10-15 yards before stopping, with nothing on he took off again, finally checking back and placing a composed pass inside to Benteke. Benteke in space ran forward then threaded the perfect pass to his right. The ball found HUTTON who had a couple of seconds to decide what to do and took both of the before calmly out-witting Schmeichel for the lead. Villa have 10 gaols for the season and its’ second second-half goal in 21 games!!!!
Villa raced through and Schmeichel was at his best saving from Richardson and Benteke and then another header from a corner.
Bacuna came on for N’Zogbia and immediately looked good, winning tackles and trying to get Villa forward. Ten minutes from time and Konchesky was late on Hutton and although it was clear he caught the Villa player he stood over him accusing him of cheating. When Hutton stood up, there may have been the hint of a head butt from the former West Ham man and Hutton pushed him away. The ref went over and stunned the Leicester players and fans by producing a straight red. Hutton got away with a yellow for his shove.
Villa are not used to having leads so practice of keep ball is not a priority I would think, so it has to be forgivable the team is absolutely useless at it; playing tricky balls out of play instead of holding it up and looking for an easier option. Trying long shots instead of just working an opening, but the worst of all had to be Cissokho who had the chance to delight the Holte End by running the ball into the corner in the 92nd minute, just gave the ball to the keeper to start a new wave of attacks the Wood almost scored on!
The ref barely went over 94 minutes and stopped the game as the Foxes were about to start a last ditch attack.
My half-time player of the game, but although Hutton won the match-ball from the Villa sponsors, it was Okore’s calmness on the ball after two games I didn’t feel he was at his best. So, Okore for me.
65% possession!!! Say no more.
Mark Albrighton. Good to see the lad play, but he could have stayed at Villa Park if he just wants to play off the bench for 10 minutes. Good reception from the fans.
Talking of fans; sounded like the 28,000 die-hards were there and the boo birds stayed home.
Albion next up. Not so sure how we will play without Westwood in this one. Also they’ll be some knocks to Hutton and Cleverley that the trainer needs to deal with.