When Derby took the lead against Villa, for a moment, there was the prospect of Derby making a swift return to Villa Park for a play-off match. After all, later in the afternoon, Middlesbrough were facing a tough match against Millwall.
In the first-half, Derby seemed more like the team that were second in the table early on in the season. Ex-Villa men Carson, Davies and Weimann all started well and Derby counter-attacked Villa with conviction, helped by Neil Taylor having a bit of a mare on the left.
Villa soon got a grip of the situation though.
Going a goal down in front of a full house, in many ways was good preparation for the play-offs for Villa though, to see if they could up the tempo and chase a game against one of the division’s better teams.
Villa dominated the second half to such an extent, it seemed they were playing against 10 men at times. Their overall 72% of the game’s possession was testament to that.
Unfortunately, they didn’t seem to bring their scoring boots and suffered some bad luck, but they will be buoyed by the amount of chances they created and how they controlled the match in the 1-1 draw. If they played another 90 minutes like that, then surely they would have bagged three or four.
Steve Bruce will potentially rest a few players (within the new rule’s allowance) for the trip to Millwall, before the real business begins in the play-offs.
In the meantime, here’s some thoughts on the players that played against Derby
Villa Player Ratings vs Derby
Sam Johnstone – 6
A quiet day at the office for Johnstone, but a blip on his decent recent run of clean sheets.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 6
His first delivery of the game showed what a let down Elmohamdy can be. With Villa pressuring Derby’s backline and encamped in the visitors’ box, his attempted delivery back into the box floated off into the crowd. His delivery was better at the end of the half though, as Grabban got on the end of it and grazed the bar with a point-blank header. As the Villa player that constantly gets the most touches in a game, if he was more effective, it would make the team a lot more dangerous. Defensively he was sound though and did well to get back with Hutton to snuff out Weimann, after he was clean through.
John Terry – 7
Had a decent return to the Villa backline. Was caught in no man’s land for the goal, as he had to let Jerome go to try and close Weimann down, after Taylor’s gaff. Not his fault though. Showed a cool head in the opposition’s box to lay the ball off to Grabban for the equaliser (take note Kodjia).
James Chester – 8 (MOTM)
Another top draw display. One of the highlights was a crucial interception to cut out a Weimann through ball on the half way line, as Derby would have been clean through on goal. Chester went close at the other end, as he remains a goalscoring threat for Villa.
Neil Taylor – 3
Judging by his 20 minutes or so against Derby, before he was subbed off, I’d be shipping Taylor out in the summer. This is a supposed international fullback who suddenly can’t do the things school boy fullbacks are taught (i.e. if in trouble and under pressure, put it out rather than risk anything). Derby went through him, as if he was a ghost and Weimann hustled him to set up Derby’s opener. Needs to get back to doing the basics right and build his confidence back from there.
Glenn Whelan – 7
Broke Derby down a couple of times in the first half, when they were in very promising positions, by sticking his foot in. He struggled with stopping Weimann breaking from deep though and didn’t read the run of Jerome, as he ran in unmarked to dispatch the opener. But, all in, a solid performance in the DM position.
Robert Snodgrass – 7.5
Good cross that led to Kodjia hitting the post. Forced Carson into a great save, after he hammered back the rebound, after his free kick came back off the wall (a goal-kick was then wrongly given). Was one of three Villa players to record over 100 touches, which shows how involved he was in the game, even if at times the end product wasn’t quite there.
Conor Hourihane – 6
Had a golden opportunity in the six-yard box just before the 70 minute mark, but his miskick flew over, when a clean connection would have hit the back of the net. Got into the game more after half-time, but needed to impose himself a bit more.
Jack Grealish – 7
Combined well with Lewis Grabban in the box to force Scott Carson into a decent save and was always scheming about the 18-yard box. His other attempts were a bit wayward though. There would certainly be a temptation to rest him against Millwall, as he will be key in taking the game to play-off opponents.
Albert Adomah – 6
Adomah was largely inconsistent with his delivery and passing. He still seems to be lacking his normal spark despite being rested recently. Villa will need him in sharper form come the play-offs.
Lewis Grabban – 7
Had the chances to win the game, especially a couple of very good chances with his head, one slightly over and one grazing the bar from point blank range. Still, he was in position to stick away the equaliser for his eighth of the season in a Villa shirt, taking him to the 20-goal mark for the season.
Off the Bench
Alan Hutton (23) – 8
Made Villa more solid as soon as he came on – whether it be winning balls in the air or getting blocks in. A great block from Weimann’s shot with 20 minutes to go. At the other end, his battling qualities won the ball that rolled to Terry, who then set up Grabban for the equaliser.
Jonathan Kodjia (59) – 6.5
Hit the bar, when he came on. More minutes before the play-offs is the main positive. Kodjia only needs to score in the play-offs to have made a contribution this season.
Josh Onomah (81) – N/A
A brief cameo, but put himself about and got involved.