- English Football League - Championship
- Saturday, April 13th 2019
- Villa Park
James Crawley reports from Villa Park
Report: Aston Villa 2-1 Bristol City
Saturday, April 13th 2019
Famara Diédhiou’s overhead kick proved in vain as two second-half goals fired Aston Villa to victory at Villa Park.
City had a first-half goal disallowed for offside against Andreas Weimann and Max O’Leary produced close-range saves to keep the Villains at bay.
That was until former City loanee Tammy Abraham won and converted a penalty shortly after half-time, with Conor Hourihane slotting home Villa’s second.
Diédhiou’s bicycle kick saw the ball flick off the post before finding the back of the net but a goal-line clearance and more heroics from O’Leary stopped Villa from adding further daylight.
Lee Johnson made one change from Tuesday night’s victory against West Brom, with Matty Taylor restored to the City attack, as Adam Wester dropped back into a flat back four with Nathan Baker named on the bench.
With two teams in promising positions in the table, this matchup was always going to be exciting and there was plenty of intensity. In the early moment, City went close when Eliasson picked up possession deep in Villa’s half, he managed a shot but it ended up a whisker away of Jed Steer’s left-hand post.
It looked like City might settle early but the electric atmosphere inside a sold-out Villa Park soon got the home side’s confidence showing.
That being said it was City who went closest again, Eliasson this time looking to assist but his cross was headed just wide by Taylor at the far post.
City had an in-form Max O’Leary to deny Villa on more than one occasion, the first when he parried away an effort from Anwar El Ghazi. The ball would fall invitingly to former City man Albert Adomah but his rebound bounced back off the post before the Robins could clear.
Dean Smith’s side were getting a foothold on the game and only a mix up between Abraham and John McGinn got in the way of a great chance for the former City loanee to test O’Leary.
After all the drama, the away side thought they had taken the lead through Weimann. The former Villain headed home an Eliasson cross and just as the away support began to cheer, the official on the far side had his flag raised for offside.
Another superb O’Leary stop kept the scores even before the break as the hosts looked to get forward again. It was Hourihane who got his head on to an El Ghazi cross but O’Leary flung out an arm to make the point blank-range save.
The young keeper would make another point blank-range save early in the second half, again to deny Hourihane, although O’Leary would soon be picking the ball out of his net when Jack Hunt fouled Abraham.
Despite the appeals, referee Scott Duncan pointed to the spot and the Villa striker, on loan from Chelsea, kept his nerve to strike the ball past O’Leary from 12 yards.
Now the momentum was with the home team and only a shot straight at O’Leary stopped McGinn from doubling Villa’s lead, before Hourihane glanced a free header narrowly over.
But Hourihane did get himself on the scoresheet with around 20 minutes remaining. Neil Taylor initially got away from two City players as he cut in off the left-hand side before sliding a pass into Hourihane who slotted the ball into the far corner.
Nathan Baker and creative Kasey Palmer were Lee Johnson’s first substitutes and his men did pull a goal back through Diédhiou’s acrobatics shortly after. City keep the ball alive in the Villa area after Hunt’s delivery from the right and the ball eventually made its way to the Senegal striker who fired the ball with an overhead kick into the Villa goal via the post.
With the game nearing its end, both sides kept up the pressure with City now looking to get themselves level in a nervy end for the hosts. Brownhill fizzed a shot just over Steer’s crossbar while Keinan Davis led a counter attack but Adomah fired a shot wide at the end.
But the Robins had their goalscorer to thank, this time Diédhiou was well placed to make a goal-line clearance to block Mile Jedinak’s header, before McGinn raced through to seal the points but blazed over O’Leary’s goal.
Jamie Paterson’s introduction late on showed City hadn’t given up on this game but Villa had proved a hard side to break through in the second half and only more fine stops from the impressive O’Leary kept the scoreline down.
City remain sixth in the Championship ahead of their Good Friday encounter at home to Reading next week.
Photography by JMPUK.
- Abraham (55' pen) , Hourihane (66')
- Conor Hourihane, Tammy Abraham
- Diedhiou (74')
- Jack Hunt, Niclas Eliasson, Matty Taylor