Villa (1) vs (1) Leicester – Poor finishing & woeful refereeing = 1 Point. #avfc #lcfc

A mere matter of days ago I, like many, would have said that we were dead and buried. However, it appears some life is belatedly stirring within the players. A solitary point against high flying Leicester is not nearly enough, but it’s progress.

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The opening exchanges were easily forgettable with both sides being fairly slow out of the blocks. We looked to be eager to avoid conceding an early goal, whilst Leicester took some time to settle.

Ayew enjoyed the company of two marking him. Kozak won plenty in the air and Gil ghosted across the midfield. We were beginning to tick. Then the self destruction. A fairly straightforward ball sailed through the centre, over Okore’s head, leaving Bunn one on one. Our newly promoted number 1 produced two outstanding saves only to lose out to goal line technology.

It was yet another preventable, largely self inflicted goal.

Matters looked to be getting worse minutes later when the linesman saw fit to award a penalty as Cissokho blocked a fierce close range strike in the area. This baffling decision was one of many incompetent calls on the night.

Mahrez, who was otherwise anonymous, had his penalty kicked away by Bunn. A huge save in our season potentially.

Villa went in at the break needing to do better in the final third & yet again reflecting on the ease at which a goal had been conceded.

The second half brought a greater focus and purpose. Gana ran tirelessly, Cissokho persevered and Ayew grew into the game.

Chances were wasted. Westwood failed to connect to an excellent Ayew threaded ball. Bacuna shot tamely at the keeper, again after the defence was unlocked by Ayew. Cissokho hammered a piledriver that was beaten away by Schmeichel. It had the feeling of yet another head scratching defeat.

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Garde acted by removing the leggy Gil and replacing him for the recently dropped Rudy Gestede. Gestede, perhaps realising that he needed to turn opinion and popularity in his favour caused Leicester some trouble. Indeed both his and Kozak’s height gave us a distinct advantage.

The equaliser came after yet more pressure with the ball falling near Gestede who put his foot through it. The ball deflected wickedly in beyond Schmeichel, with the power ensuring he had no chance.

A huge talking point was Rogers East’s failure to award Villa a spot kick for Huth’s blatant foul on Kozak. It was a foul, in the penalty area. There is no debate to be had. It capped a performance by the officials which had long passed the levels of crass incompetence.

I, like any reasonable football fan have respect for referees. They have a tricky job judging some calls that they might get a partial view of or little time to decide. However, I have no time for officials who make incorrect calls when in possession of all the facts. They were absolutely woeful all evening, inconsistent across all areas of the pitch and crucially got every game changing decision wrong. That is simply unacceptable.

From here Villa never managed to capitalise. Too many crosses were wayward or never beat the first man. Too many times the reverse or sideways ball was preferred to a forward facing ball into the channels.

I thought for all of Veretout’s superb ball control and passing, he repeatedly let himself down last night with timid crossing and set pieces.

Still, the chances were created, Kozak was guilty at the death of toeing an effort well over from virtually underneath the bar.

This is disappointing part. For all of our anger at not getting a blatant penalty, the game could have been decided with the chances created. We are desperate for a predatory goal scorer.

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I was surprised by how average Leicester looked. Vardy offered runs and energy but tired badly. There were also reminders of his unsavoury petulance. Mahrez, you would have struggled to have been aware he was on the pitch. Beyond that, nothing really caught the eye other than the work rate.

What does a single point mean for us? Well. It feels like two points dropped. It’s not nearly enough when every single game is must win, the opposition was average and we had the chances. It has the unfortunate feel to it as being one of those games we will look back on with regret come May.

Up next is a tasty derby against West Brom at The Hawthorns. For more than one reason, defeat, is not an option.

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