It’s four wins on the trot for Aston Villa, as they started the game with purpose, taking a 2-0 lead after just seven minutes with a Scott Hogan brace. After Barnsley pulled a goal back with a free header from a corner, Hourihane restored Villa’s lead with just 19 minutes on the clock.
That turned out to the be the end fo the scoring, although both teams had chances. Hogan hit the woodwork, while Sam Johnstone once again earned his wages.
The win saw Villa close the gap to the automatic promotion places to three points.
Villa Player Ratings vs Barnsley
Sam Johnstone – 7
Made some important saves in the second half when his teammates let their grip loosen on the game a little. He was certainly busier than his other games in 2018.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 7
Back in his role of being the assist man with a smart cross to provide Hogan’s opener. Saw the most of the ball of any Villa player today too and combined well with Snoddy.
John Terry – 7
Remember those nervy last ten-minute periods that used to be part and parcel of watching Villa, because it’s when we’d normally concede? Nah, neither do I. That was life before Terry.
However, the organisation on the corner that led to Barnsley goal needs addressing.
James Chester – 7
Business as usual. Nuff said.
Alan Hutton – 7
Hutton’s consistency on the left may have made the position his, with Neil Taylor set for a spell on the bench. There maybe better right-backs in the Villa squad, but currently the Scottish Cafu certainly seems the best option at left-back.
Birkir Bjarnason – 7.5
Deservedly got a start after a good 45 minutes in the DM spot against Forest an didn’t disappoint once again. Blocked, intercepted, cleared and kept things under control when he was on the ball. Hopefully, he’ll feel more part of the team now.
Robert Snodgrass – 7
Snodgrass’s corner (assist) contributed to Hogan’s second, as he keeps up his influence in recent games of either scoring or making goals for the team. You get the feeling there’s more to come from the Scot too.
Conor Hourihane – 7
Well-taken and well-timed goal that snuffed out any momentum that his ex-team were looking to build. The goals keep coming for him, making him the valuable goal-scoring midfielder that Villa have lacked over recent years.
Scott Hogan – 8 MOTM
This is what we’ve been waiting for this season, a striker that can win a game with ruthless finishing.
Hogan’s double-strike within the first seven minutes, pretty much sealed the deal and he was unlucky not to get the hat-trick after hitting the woodwork in the second half.
That’s four goals in three games now for Hogan. Considering, before that, Villa only had a return of one goal in the first 25 league games of this season from their £30m worth of strikers bought while they’ve been in the Championship, it’s progress.
If Hogan stays fit, you’d hope he’ll be on for double figures this season.
He really could be, as the old football cliche goes, like a new signing.
Jack Grealish – 8
His eagerness to get on the ball is something Villa have missed. As MOMS described him in the Bristol City game, he can be like the conductor of the team.
There was great work from him jinking his way through the Barnsley defence to set up Hourihane’s goal and he carried on his role as yellow card and freekick bait, which is certainly helping matters for Villa in games.
Grealish’s top highlight though was pushing the ref out the way, before feeding Hourihane to set up another Villa chance. The ref going ar*e over tit certainly was met with approval by the Villa faithful.
The only question mark was whether Grealish should have gone with his runner, Dylan Mottley-Henry, who ended up with a free header for Barnsley’s goal? Or should the Villa defence have had their eyes on his run and picked him up?
Albert Adomah – 7
Another performance of purpose and threat down the left. The fact that his new found consistency this season means teams always have to think and plan for him,which is good news for the likes of Grealish and Hogan.
Off the Bench
Josh Onomah (77) – 6
On for Adomah. According to the stats books, Onomah actually touched the ball more times (14) in 13 minutes than Hogan did in 90 (12). It’s a funny old game, considering Hogan is MOMS man of the match.
Glenn Whelan (86) – N/A
Came on for Hourihane to shut up shop, although didn’t see much of the actual ball.
Keinan Davis (90) – N/A
On for Hogan in the dying seconds.
Team Performance – 8
It was a game that Villa should win, if promotion is to be their destiny. It’s a game that Villa lost last season.
With too many draws at Villa Park this season, it was time to really take the game to visitors, and Villa were very positive in the first half, attacking with intent and venom.
While two goals to the good, they also saw the game out well. It was a big step in the right direction when you consider how they had struggled to dispatch Millwall at Villa Park, six weeks ago.