Despite indifferent form heading into the match, Aston Villa and manager Steve Bruce hoped that their decent away-record would see them get a much-needed win. It was not to be.
Whether it was Boxing Day blurry eyes or a slight kit clash, it took a moment for me to work out who was who. Albert Adomah soon received a kick to the nether-regions, however. The mutual pain that any man feels at the sight of this reverberated through the screen. I was awake. If anything though, it put Villa to sleep. Adomah was soon replaced by Onomah and Brentford gained a foothold in the game.
Brentford Threw The First Punch
Brentford began to make surges forward. The Villa central-midfield pairing of Jedinak and Whelan seemed to be bunching up. This allowed space for Romaine Sawyers: he picked-up the ball just outside the box and drove a low shot into the bottom-left hand corner of Sam Johnstone’s net. Chester and Taylor were unable to get close enough to prevent the shot. Fault will inevitably be attributed to Whelan who loosely gave the ball away with a tackle outside of the area. Brentford continued to play as they showcased a number of different set-piece plays from corner kicks. However, they all had one thing in common: an inability to place the ball within the parameters of the corner area.
Seconds Out…Round Two
Fortunately, Villa began to grow back into the game, nonetheless without really troubling the Brentford goal too much. An equalizer for Villa came very much against the run of play. A weak clearance only went as far as Snodgrass and found Hogan in the right-side of the area. With a lovely-weighted cross, he found the head of a darting Josh Onomah who found the top left corner. The Villans nearly scored a second in the thirty-eighth minute. Jack Grealish, resuming his #10 role, played through Hogan once more, this time down the left-hand side of the area. Despite a calm finish, the striker was ruled offside.
At half-time, the teams went in level, Villa giving themselves a chance in the second-half without really deserving it.
Whatever was said at half-time, it did not appear that Villa came out the traps very quickly. Whelan once again lost the ball in their own half, allowing the particularly impressive Sergi Canós to run at goal.
His shot deflected onto Elphick. With the ball flying towards the back post, he was able to recover and challenge the Spaniard effectively on the goal-line to prevent a second. Nonetheless, a second Brentford goal arrived. A more conventional corner from the right-hand side failed to clear. With Onomah and Elphick clashing, Lasse Vibe was left alone to tuck away a goal through Snodgrass’ legs on the line.
Villa struggled to get a grip on the game for a time with Brentford looking the more likely to score the fourth goal. Villa’s passing was just poor and Brentford’s energy made us look like my nan after a few drinks on Christmas day: slow and all over the place. Eventually, there were a few ‘positive’ moves. With no end product, Keinan Davis came on to replace Whelan, who had been poor today. The pair would have twenty minutes to test a potential striking partnership.
"‘It only takes a flash of brilliance to change the game…’"
I wondered whether the commentator was just being polite. Nonetheless, the club started to gain possession some more and a few crosses threatened the Brentford goal. In particular, a Grealish cross found Keinan Davis’ head but his attempt was strained and he was unable to keep it down.
Into the twelfth and you felt Villa would not be knocked out, but would surely lose on points (or goals if you don’t care for this boxing analogy). However, the pain was prolonged after a head blow caused a stoppage in the game.
“This’ll be a ninety-eight minute match, you’ll get more for your money,” chuckled my grandad. Something like that…
A massive chance in six minutes of stoppage time fell for Keinan Davis. His shot was somehow deflected for a corner but it really should have leveled the game. Additionally, the subsequent corner was nearly bundled over the line. With the technology now in place, there was no disputing the chance. Nonetheless, the equalizer was not to be and Villa’s poor recent run continues…