After drawing three of their first four home games, a win against Nottingham Forest was always going to be a statement of intent for the rest of the season.
The feeling at full-time though was one more of relief than the half-time expectation of a potentially comfortable win.
Forest will ultimately count themselves unlucky, after Villa lost all authority on the second-half, until a Hourihane freekick set them up for the win and Johnstone got them over the line.
There was something of a lack of cohesion in Villa’s play, but Villa’s team is packed with enough quality at this level to win games on indifferent days.
Grinding out results is a good asset, but Villa will have to learn how to turn on the style too, if they want to convince fans of their promotion ambitions.
Aston Villa Player Ratings vs Barnsley
Sam Johnstone – 7
Steady and composed once again and his save from the free kick save his key contribution.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 6
Another spirited performance that currently keeps him in the team above three out-and-out right-backs. A little restricted going forward, but dogged in defence.
John Terry – 7
He let a man almost as old as him ghost through to score Forest’s equaliser, but that was one blip on a performance where he largely marshalled the defence well, especially later on in the game, although he wasn’t helped by his midfield at times.
James Chester – 6
He also contributed to Forest’s equaliser and got caught out a couple of times, but luck was on his side. He’s had better games, but did enough to get Villa over the line.
Neil Taylor – 7
Another no thrills spirited performance with the odd crucial intervention from the Welsh battler. He’s certainly defensively sound when it comes to his defensive duties, something that has been a rare quality amongst Villa full-backs in recent seasons.
Glen Whelan – 5 (If he was a Forest player – 7)
Seemed to be a fading force in the middle of the park. His main remit seems to be to break up play, but it had been hoped he would help Villa keep possession and help things tick over in the middle of the park. In that respect, he was disappointing. Also, not convincing as a ‘midfield enforcer’.
Robert Snodgrass – 5
Overall a disappointing outing for Snodgrass. A wasteful freekick (although it ultimately contributed to the winner, with Hourihane taking over duties later) and the fact he seemed a little off the pace, were the underlining points of his performance.
Hopefully his sharpness will return this coming week against Burton and Bolton.
Conor Hourihane – 7
Showed good effort, although did a lot of chasing due to Forest’s possession. His freekick winner was one of the reasons he was brought to the club and with it being his fifth goal already this season, he hasn’t disappointed when it comes to the big stats.
Keinan Davis – 7
Once again good vision and feet created chances for others, although he only had one shot of note himself. There’s a positive trend already appearing from Davis’ performances, he’s at least a solid 7/10 man every game.
The more Villa get him into the game, the better off they’ll be.
Jonathan Kodjia – 6.5
While he’s not exactly firing on all cylinders at the moment, he’s starting to make things happen. He won the freekick and also assisted in Adomah’s opener.
Expect his first goal of the season this coming week!
Albert Adomah – 8 (MOTM)
It’s fair to say Adomah is producing his best form in a Villa shirt in the past few weeks. At the start of the season his role at Villa was uncertain with the influx of new signings, but now he’s one of the first names on the team sheet.
A genuine threat going forward with his alertness and forward intent leading to his recent goal haul. He was perhaps unlucky not to score another brace, after a neat opener.
His increased work rate has also been a revelation.
Off the Bench…
Hogan (79) – 5
The usual Hogan scenario. Lots of running, nothing to hang onto though
Onomah (72) – 5
Didn’t settle into the game and for once, made little impression.
Hutton (88) – N/A
He’s still alive. That’s about all that can be said from his sub appearance in the final minutes. He came on to help preserve the lead and we won.