|Aston Villa 2 v 1 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 26th January 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Aston Villa 2-1 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 26th Jan 2019 17:28
Freddie Sears netted his sixth goal of the season as the Blues were beaten 2-1 at Aston Villa but could count themselves unlucky not to have claimed a point after a late fightback in which Trevoh Chalobah struck the post and they were denied a penalty. Tammy Abraham put the Villans in front in the sixth minute, then doubled the lead via a hugely controversial penalty on 61. Tommy Elphick appeared to handle a goalbound Collin Quaner effort inside the box before Sears pulled one back on 76 and then Chalobah and Town were denied by the woodwork.
Town boss Paul Lambert made three changes on his return to the club he managed between 2012 and 2015 with Bartosz Bialkowski, Myles Kenlock and Flynn Downes all starting.
Bialkowski returned in goal for Dean Gerken, who dropped to the bench, while Kenlock came in for Callum Elder at left-back with the Australian also among the subs.
At the centre of the defence James Collins, facing his old club, was at centre-half alongside Luke Chambers. Downes took his place in a three-man midfield with Cole Skuse and Chalobah.
Will Keane started as the central striker with Alan Judge on the left and Sears on the right with Quaner also moving to the bench.
Villa made two changes with Glenn Whelan and Anwar El Ghazi coming into the team for Birkir Bjarnason, who was missing from the 18, and Yannick Bolasie, whose loan from Everton has been cut short, while Mile Jedinak was back on the bench after injury. Ex-Blues midfielder Conor Hourihane started.
The home side dominated possession in the early stages with Town unable to get out of their own half. On four, John McGinn blazed over with a shot from just outside the area.
But two minutes later, Villa took the lead. Hourihane whipped a low freekick - conceded after Chalobah had sent El Ghazi tumbling - in from the left, Bialkowski hesitated on his line and Abraham got ahead of the Blues’ defenders to volley his 18th goal of the season into the roof of the net from four yards out.
With rain beginning fall steadily, Villa immediately began looking for a second with the Blues repeatedly getting themselves into difficulties when trying to play out from the back.
However, on 10, Keane caught James Chester in possession midway inside the Villa half and brought the ball forward before eventually finding Judge, but the Irishman’s low shot lacked power and Lovre Kalinic in the Villa goal was able to claim comfortably.
Town began to see more of the ball but on 14 Kenlock surrendered possession to McGinn, pulled the Scotland international back and was shown the afternoon’s first yellow card.
The Blues continued to see a lot of the ball but mainly in unthreatening areas while still looking very shaky and inviting trouble when trying to pass it out from their own box.
On 22 Chalobah was halted in his tracks by Chester has he burst into the area with Town starting to make some headway.
Five minutes later, El Ghazi was yellow-carded for a late challenge on Collins after the Welshman had ended a Villa break on the edge of the Blues box.
The home side began to take control again and just after the half-hour mark they had the ball in the net for a second time, however, with the linesman’s flag having been raised.
McGinn had got away from Downes on the right and hit a low shot from the edge of the box which Bialkowski did well to bat away from goal to his left. Albert Adomah, who scored twice in last year’s corresponding fixture, reached it first and slammed into the net but having strayed offside.
The Blues were again finding themselves under pressure and on 33 Alan Hutton crossed from the right. McGinn’s first effort was blocked, then his second scuffed through to Bialkowski.
Two minutes later Hourihane shot from distance and Bialkowski scampered away to his left to claim at the second attempt ahead of Adomah.
Abraham will feel he should have scored his second of the afternoon in the 36th minute when he was found in space on the left of the box by Adomah. With time to pick his spot, the on-loan Chelsea man struck his effort too close to Bialkowski, who palmed away to his left.
Town successfully defended a freekick taken from the same position as Villa’s earlier goal on 38 and broke quickly, Chalobah finding Sears on the right. The Blues’ on-loan Chelsea youngster eventually hit a shot from the edge of the box but was unable to get any power on it and the effort was blocked.
Two minutes later, McGinn hit a low strike from distance which Bialkowski was unable to hold on to but Collins was there first to stab behind. On 42 Hourihane hit a low 20-yard freekick through the wall which Bialkowski was able to claim with ease.
In the final scheduled minute before the break Keane again won the ball after some Villa hesitancy but was eventually crowded out, however, the ball was cleared straight to Chalobah, who hit a low shot which failed to trouble Kalinic.
Town were probably fortunate to be just the single goal down with the half having largely been one-way traffic with Villa moving the ball around slickly and confidently and having a number of opportunities to increase their lead.
The Blues had started to see more of the ball midway through the half but rarely in dangerous areas and Kalinic in the Villa goal had had a comfortable first 45 minutes, even if his backline had shown an occasional tendency to gift the ball in dangerous areas, something Town might well have profited from.
Town, who needed to up their game significantly in the second half if they were to avoid their sixth successive away defeat, were under the cosh from the off after the break.
With the persistent rain if anything now falling even harder, Abraham headed a 47th minute Adomah cross from the right straight at Bialkowski who again failed to hold on. Once more Collins was first to it but the ex-Villa man scuffed away but the danger was eventually cleared.
Two minutes later, Sears shot over from the edge of the Villa box, then on 51 El Ghazi blasted well over from distance for the Midlanders.
Villa came close to doubling their lead in the 53rd minute when McGinn diverted Hutton’s cross from the right only just over the bar after the Blues had made heavy weather of getting the ball away from danger.
Town had started to see more of the ball again but still without seriously threatening when Villa were awarded a penalty in the 61st minute, the fourth the Blues have conceded in five league games from which the home side increased their lead.
A corner from the right looked like it was going nowhere at the back of the box where McGinn went to ground as Judge looked to turn away from him, get on the ball and take it out of the box.
The recent signing looked aghast at what was yet another soft penalty decision and the Town players argued long and hard with referee Keith Stroud to no avail.
Abraham confidently beat Bialkowski from the spot to hit the 19-goal mark and give the scoreline an all-to-familiar look for the 1,092-strong travelling Blues support.
Match Gallery: 3 photos
Town swapped Keane for Quaner, a change they had been looking to make since before the goal, but found themselves under more and more pressure from a Villa side by now with their tails well and truly up.
On 65 Bialkowski turned an Abraham cross over his bar, before Ahmed Elmohamady took over from Adomah for the home side.
Town almost pulled a goal back in the 73rd minute when Downes lofted a pass over the Villa backline for Quaner. The on-loan Huddersfield man took the ball round the keeper but Tommy Elphick slid in to block with what looked to be a hand. However, as had often been the case throughout the afternoon, referee Stroud’s decision went against the Blues’ significant protests.
Three minutes later, their five-game away goal drought did come to an end. Judge allowed a ball from the left to run past him just outside the box to Downes but behind the midfielder, who turned it back to Sears. The ex-West Ham man took a touch before smashing a brilliant strike past Kalinic to his left and into the top corner of the net.
Sears’s sixth goal of the season roused the previously quietened Town support and put more of a spring in the players’ step. Neil Taylor was forced to concede a corner on the right and from the flag-kick Pennington headed over.
The Blues came within a whisker of levelling in the 80th minute when Judge whipped over a freekick from the right and Chalobah flicked a header across goal and off the far post.
A minute later Quaner went down looking in some pain after a McGinn challenge but after treatment was able to carry on.
Hourihane was booked for a foul on Chalobah as Town broke, then on 85 Bialkowski saved low down to his left from Abraham from the edge of the box as the striker looked for his hat-trick.
Abraham thought he had grabbed that third of the afternoon in the 88th minute only to find Bialkowski in his way. The Chelsea loanee was found in space at the far post by a low ball from the left but the Polish international somehow threw himself across goal to block superbly.
McGinn shot low but weakly from distance with Villa putting the Blues under pressure as the fourth official indicated four additional minutes. Deep in injury time Kayden Jackson took over from Chalobah.
Aside from a thwarted Quaner run, Town were unable to find an equaliser in the remaining minutes and succumbed to another away defeat, although ultimately one from which they were unfortunate not to claim a point.
While Villa might well have been out of sight earlier on in the game, once they were two goals down the Blues battled back - with Quaner making a big impact after coming on - and were unlucky that Chalobah’s header struck the post and referee Stroud waved away what looked to be valid protests regarding Elphick’s handball, just as the official did with a similar incident at Blackburn last week.
Probably even more galling was the earlier penalty award to Villa, which video evidence showed was as soft as they come with McGinn’s fall to ground having little to do with any contact made by Judge.
Elsewhere, Rotherham were beaten 2-1 at home by Leeds so the gap remains seven points but with Bolton hosting Reading on Tuesday.
Town’s next opportunity to make up some ground to the sides above them is next Saturday when Sheffield Wednesday are at Portman Road.
Aston Villa: Kalinic, Taylor, Chester, Whelan (Kodjia 78), McGinn, Hourihane, Abraham, Hutton, El Ghazi (Jedinak 85), Elphick, Adomah (Elmohamady 68). Unused: Steer, Davis, Hause, O’Hare.
Town: Bialkowski, Pennington, Chambers, Collins, Kenlock, Chalobah (Jackson 90), Skuse, Downes, Judge, Sears, Keane (Quaner 62). Unused: Gerken, Nolan, Bishop, Nsiala, Elder. Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire). Att: 33,653 (Town: 1,092).
Photo: Action Images
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