Judging from the proceedings of the first-half, if you were told then that Sheffield Wednesday were going to go on and win the game 4-2, you wouldn’t be surprised. Instead, it seemed after the hour mark, that the penny finally dropped for the Villa players, that their automatic promotion hopes could be dissolving away unless they did something about it.
In the end, Villa’s three second-half goals provided a grandstand finish to the game and will hopefully inspire them to go into games with more intent and conviction.
In the first hour or so, Villa defended without discipline, leaving the Owls with plenty of the space on both flanks and in the middle to get at them. If Wednesday weren’t down to their second and third string strikers, the result may have been a lot different.
Wednesday trying to cope with an injury crisis literally twice as bad as Villa’s going into the game, made a good fist of the game, taking advantage of Villa’s initial poor showing.
Not for the first time, Villa relied on players that have cutting edge to their game, like Conor Hourihane and Robert Snodgrass to get them over the line, as they did frequently during the seven-game winning run.
Lets hope this game sharpens the Villa player’s minds for what is to come. At least, we are still very much in the hunt for an automatic promotion place.
*Apologies for not doing player ratings for the Preston game. Didn’t get back until late from game and then busy next day.
Villa Player Ratings vs Sheffield Wednesday
Sam Johnstone – 6
Is starting to get used to picking the ball out of his net, when it used to be a novelty for him. This time round there was nothing that was his fault, after some iffy moments in recent games. He made a few smart saves to keep Villa in the game in the first hour.
A clean sheet against QPR would be welcome.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 5
Elmohamady seems to have lost a little of his directness going forward that was a major asset in his game in the early stages of the season. Recently, he’s sided on caution and frequently makes crosses from deeper positions, when he perhaps should take the ball on a bit more and force the issue.
Got caught out a few times at the back early doors.
John Terry – 6
If Terry’s job is to organise the Villa defence, he was obviously having a toilet break during most of the first half. Certainly his performance levels haven’t been as impressive in recent games, as they have been during the rest of the season. To be fair though, in this game, Villa were missing a dedicated DM to offer further protection.
James Chester – 6
Finally, a bit of an average game for Chester. He wasn’t as tidy as he normally is with the ball and he was given the run around by the Owls counterattacks in the first half.
Alan Hutton – 6
His final ball let him down a couple of times when Villa were in good positions in Wednesday’s half, but an injury early in the second half saw him make way for Neil Taylor.
Glenn Whelan – 6
Had a mixed bag of a game. Perhaps not as effective in a 4-4-2, then when he’s just having to play in his enforcer role in front of the defence. On the plus side though, Whelan scored the vital second equaliser – his first goal since 2011 – which swung the momentum in Villa’s favour.
Robert Snodgrass – 8 MOTM
Snodgrass’s grit and determination in the end went along way to getting Villa the three points. No Villa player saw more of the ball and his mazy run at the end, which won him the penalty was pretty symbolic of his efforts. An assist to add to the penalty he scored. If only we had another Snodgrass in the middle of the park too.
Josh Onomah – 4
Onomah is going to have to buck up, as he should be showing more at this level. He looked asleep for the time he was on the pitch. The Spurs man didn’t play with any conviction going forward and didn’t close the spaces down, when Villa were defending.
It’s alright giving it the big one and saying you want to help get Villa promoted, when you sign for the club, more evidence on the field would be nice though. Walk the walk.
Conor Hourihane – 7
Winner, winner, chicken dinner. Hourihane is quickly making a habit of popping up at the right moment in games with goals. While he was playing a little deeper in the first half as part of a 4-4-2, he didn’t do a great job of imposing himself on the centre of the park, as Wednesday cut through Villa with worrying ease.
Hourihane functions better when Villa are on the front foot ala the closing stages of this game.
Lewis Grabban – 7
As he also demonstrated against Preston, Grabban can be a bit of a Hollywood player with his outside of the foot passing and gliding jogging style. He’s easy on the eye in terms of his style and tidy in possession (almost 85% pass completion).
Does he need a bit more grit between his teeth? Maybe, but still, he does improve Villa’s threat going forward and he got his second equaliser in successive games.
For those still missing Kodjia, you really don’t need to now.
Grabban also wanted to take the penalty at the end, but Snodgrass wasn’t having any of it!
Scott Hogan – 6
Was actually more involved than normal with his touch count of 29, off the charts compared to most of his previous appearances. Despite a couple of shots on target, he didn’t have his most purposeful game though.
Off the Bench
Keinan Davis (60) – 7
Judging from his introduction in recent matches, there’s a chase for starting Davies in away games, as he’s always a handful and when he’s on the ball or hustling, he allows the Villa midfield time to join the attack and support.
Davies comes on when Villa are 2-1 down and they end up winning 4-2. Coincidence?
Neil Taylor (51) – 6
Did a decent enough job and perhaps made Villa a little more composed on the left-hand side, without adding anything too dramatic to the party.
Mile Jedinak (83) – N/A
Got a few headed clearances in during his brief time on the field, but wasn’t called into action much, as Villa were mainly attacking in the final ten minutes.
Team Performance – 7
For the first hour of the game, you’d have to rate the effort as a 5/10. Defensively, Villa were constantly leaving wide open spaces at the back for the home team to exploit.
The resolve to keep going and get the three points deserves big credit though. Hopefully, it won’t be a case of just masking over what happened earlier in the game and they can use the late rally to inspire and lift standards from the QPR game onwards.