For the second time in recent weeks, Aston Villa took advantage of an early opposition red card to end up convincing winners. The game was slow to get going, but after Lewis Grabban’s snap shot was deflected onto the post, Conor Hourihane was in the right place at the right time to put Villa one up.
Grant Ward’s high tackle on Neil Taylor earned him a red card, that felt like a second Villa goal before the half-time whistle sounded. It allowed Villa to run onto the pitch for the second half, knowing the game was pretty much in the bag.
The second half was all about the silky smooth Grabban, as he got himself a brace with two cool finishes. His performance surely makes him Villa’s number one striker for the play-off games.
Henri Lansbury stooping header from a deep Bjarnason cross put the icing on the cake for Villa, but gave way to the thought of, why the team couldn’t play with the same verve when they last visited East Anglia, a few weeks ago.
Villa Player Ratings vs Ipswich
Sam Johnstone – 6
Another easy 90 minutes for Johnstone. That’s five clean sheets in the last six games, which has been down to some smart saves and some of the Championship teams not being all that.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 6.5
As it gets pointed out every week in this column, Elmohamady seems to have the mindset of ‘safety first’ drilled into him. When Ipswich went down to 10-men, it gave him a licence to be more aggressive going forward, but he didn’t take it up. Is it the player, or has Bruce brainwashed him? Defensively sound though.
Mile Jedinak – 7
Pretty much washed away his nightmare displays in the position from earlier in the season. Read the game well and snuffed out any danger, especially in the air. His distribution wasn’t as sharp as normal according to the stats (pass completion 77.5% compared to Chester’s 91.4%).
James Chester – 7
Another good day at the office, tidy and controlled, as Ipswich rarely threatened. Business as usual.
Neil Taylor – 6.5
Victim of the red card tackle and obviously felt the challenge, since he was subbed after the hour mark. He’ll be hoping he hasn’t picked up an injury with Hutton returning to training on Monday.
Glenn Whelan – 7
Did what Whelan does well – challenging and bossing the Ipswich midfield once it was over the half-way line. Whelan saw plenty of the ball during the game and had a chance to add to the goal he scored against Sheffield Wednesday.
Birkir Bjarnason – 6.5
Was a bit AWOL in midfield during the early part of the game, but ironically made more of a mark when he switched to left-back, after Neil Taylor went off. A great deep delivery for the Lansbury header. Went close to getting on the scoresheet himself a couple of times.
Conor Hourihane – 7.5
Had a few pot shots and maybe could have had more than his opener for Villa, where he was in the right place at the right time to put away the rebound off the post, after Grabban’s shot was deflected. Didn’t do too much with his deadball responsibilities with Snodgrass sitting the game out.
Jack Grealish – 7.5
Seemed to be a little more subdued than normal in the first half, although clearly thrived against 10-men. Grealish had the most touches of any Villa player – 114 touches in total. Villa players rarely break into three figures, so that gives you some idea of his involvement.
And for those who follow our Hogan touch count on the MOMS Podcast, Grealish had 100 touches more than Hogan normally does in a game!
Josh Onomah – 7.5
Starting to benefit from a mini-run in the team. Didn’t do so well against the 11-men Ipswich in the first half, but after the red card, found the space to get on the ball more and link-up with Grealish and Grabban. Two assists for both Grabban’s goals was proof of it.
Lewis Grabban – 8.5 MOTM
After his first half shot was deflected on to the post, to ultimately set up Hourihane’s opener, Grabban was in full smooth operator mode to get Villa’s second and third, with two very well-taken goals.
Certainly in the past few games, Grabban should have convinced most people that he’s Villa’s main striker for the play-offs.
It’ll be interesting to see who he’s playing for next season.
Off the Bench
Henri Lansbury (73) – 7
Got some minutes after coming on for Conor Hourihane and soon stooped in to head in Villa’s fourth. His second goal-scoring impact sub performance, after Leeds away.
(Lansbury position at Villa was discussed on the latest MOMS podcast, see below to listen).
Scott Hogan (64) – 6
He had a couple of chances that were fired off target from his 10 touches after coming on with around 25 minutes to play (Hogan and his touch count also discussed in depth on the new podcast episode).
Albert Adomah (82) – N/A
A player receiving a welcome rest to hopefully freshen him up for more important games ahead. The game was over when he came on, but he did OK to give Villa fresh threat on the left.
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