Déjà vu at Villa Park: Punished at the death by Nottingham Forest after countless chances to seal victory.

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As fans we have to strike a balance.  The balance is certainly about giving a manager time after just six games, but, on the other hand, we have all watched football long enough to start to form an opinion.

The performance yesterday was frighteningly similar to those that have come before it this season.  It was all the more concerning given that many of the faces on display are supposed to be free of the horrors (and errors) experienced last term.  

Aside from a makeshift midfield, we had more than enough to dispatch Forest, which the possession (59%) and shots (23) testify alone.

The first half wasn’t pretty viewing either, difficult on the eye, Villa huffed and puffed, with chances for McCormack and Kodjia spurned by the post and keeper respectively.

Forest brought little to the party, with limited forays forward, they spent most of the first 45 watching Villa’s attempts to unpick the lock.  They would have gone in at half time more than happy with their efforts, dour as they might have been.

What was particularly glaring was our limitation in central midfield.

Westwood, maligned by most, continues to be a frustrating footballer.  His lack of quick interplay or incisive passing served to illustrate why new recruits have been a priority in the transfer window.  A predictable and disappointing performance.

The second half at least brought more excitement, if not the result we’d hoped for.

Villa were more adventurous, but with adventure came risk.

The concerning lack of form and quality from Gary Gardner was underlined after he gifted away possession on the edge of the Forest box.  The Forest attack drew Westwood wide, who once beaten freed Vellios, seizing upon acres of space, to hammer home a strike from 25 yards.  

The poorest part of the goal was again Gardner, who can be seen jogging back as the attack develops into an opening goal for the visitors.  He was deservedly hooked from the field shortly after and could easily see himself a squad figure at best.

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Another ongoing cause for concern is the standard of goalkeeping at Villa Park.  Whilst the opening Forest strike had power, it was marginally off centre inthe goal.  Bunn, on for injured Gollini managed only a half handed flap at it.  Must try harder.

Villa responded immediately, as if awoken from a ponderous slumber.

Ayew broke, firing a thunderous drive against the Forest bar.

Ayew, a constant threat all afternoon shortly after navigated the Forest defence, releasing a square ball for McCormack to finish coolly across the face of the goalkeeper.  

The momentum swung strongly in Villa’s favour, Gestede, introduced earlier for Gardner proved a handy additional option across the frontline, which soon paid off.

Jordan Ayew burst forward once again, riding challenges, cut a cross back to Gestede who controlled and fashion an impressive swivelled volley into the net.  A deserved and well executed goal.

It only seemed fathomable that there could be one winner.

And then Villa went deep, took the foot off the gas completely and invited the inevitable.  Team orders?  Bad tactics?  You can decide, but it didn’t appear the natural swing of the game as Forest looked completely on the ropes.

Pereira was allowed to one-two through the midfield before the interception broke to the unmarked Lansbury.  Lansbury nailed home the 87th minute equaliser high into the goal.

Despair.

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If there was one hilarious refereeing decision it was the sending of of Pereira for celebrating with the visiting fans.

And so Villa permitted another three points to slip away, needlessly, through an seemingly recurring ability to not see a game out.  There’s no doubt that we absolutely have to start learning from these mistakes.

In Ayew (MOTM), Kodjia, McCormack there is enough evidence that we will be potent going forward.  However, we learned once again that a central midfield of Westwood and Gardner will not be good enough to get us out of this division.  The return to fitness of Jedinak and Tshibola cannot come soon enough.

As for Forest, I was surprised by how limited they were.  Lacking in invention, they will be more than happy with a at the very least taking their chances.  Perhaps the only thing of note.

Other than that they frequently resorted to poor gamesmanship, time-wasting and injury feigning.  That tells you a great deal about a football club, their ambitions and ultimately the qualities they have.

Up next, a suddenly important home game against Brentford.

The Villa Underground isn’t one for often stating that games are “must win”, but this one has to be, or where will the points upon which to build a promotion push be coming from?

It’s time to be ruthless, particularly up front and improve our quality in midfield.  It’s no more complicated than that.

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