If the first 84 minutes demonstrated to Gerrard the job he has on, the final 6 minutes illustrated the potential within this Villa squad.
An emphatic last phase of play saw Villa sweep a stubborn Brighton aside, with late strikes from Ollie Watkins and Tyrone Mings ending a 5 game losing streak.
OLLIE WATKINS GOAL
Let’s be honest, this wasn’t a great game of football. The first half was an anxious affair as Brighton quickly found a footing in the game via a combination of good organisation and playing the dark arts.
The visitors grew in confidence as a nervous tension built on the pitch and on the terraces. It certainly subdued the atmosphere, despite the fact that Villa Park was full to the rafters. The mood could easily have been worsened by the break, were it not for two smart saves from Emi Martinez.
The second half posed Gerrard a visible dilemma. Push on and risk Brighton picking us off, or try to remain tight and take what at that juncture seemed a more realistic point.
It’s funny how a game can suddenly and unexpectedly swing.
The introduction of fresh legs certainly altered the momentum of the game. Ashley Young, El Ghazi and Bailey appeared from the bench in turn.
Young, released after calm defending by Nakamba fed the ball into Watkins. The striker had much to do but carried the ball at pace at the retreating Brighton defence. They could do little as Watkins cut inside and unleashed a perfect curled effort beyond ‘keeper Steele.
It was a move and finish of sublime quality, much in contrast to the wider game, but which completely lifted the roof off Villa Park.
With confidence and adrenaline pumping Villa suddenly marauded. Leon Bailey once more demonstrated his ability and was unlucky to see an outrageous volley beaten away. The stadium would have gone into orbit had the Jamaican’s effort rippled the net.
It was Mings who got the final say. After a number of important headed clearances throughout the game, it was his retrieval of an otherwise dead ball that resulted in a cross into the Brighton box. This delivery was poorly cleared and only into the path of Mings. The England defender made no mistake, firing the loose ball into the net to seal all 3 points.
There is much to ponder for Gerrard, whose celebration of the goals underlined the importance and relief in equal measure. The victory brings to a welcome end a dismal run of results and with it opens the door to a new hope.
I want to win. I’m a competitor. I want to at times show emotion and I’ll always be as authentic as I can. If anyone doubted what it meant to me to be in this position, just watch me after those goals. Inside me is what was inside me as a player, that will to win, that drive and energy. I will always be authentic.STEVEN GERRARD – SOURCE: GUARDIAN