After a positive but somewhat uninspiring victory against Sunderland, it was good to see Villa grind out a valuable win against a disruptive Ipswich side.
Whilst Villa started brightly, the game soon fell foul of the game plan of the visitors. As the game stagnated, so did the temperature. It was frosty viewing at Villa Park.
With the stereotypical predictability of a Mick McCarthy side, Ipswich stifled play at every opportunity.
Still, it was the visitors who brought the first moment of interest into proceedings, with an effort correctly disallowed for a foul on Villa keeper Sam Johnstone from a corner.
Whilst not worth dwelling on, this was a feature of Ipswich’s approach, particularly at set plays; needless fouls, pulling, pushing. This cost them their opener and did little to aid their hopes thereafter. They were, in short, one-dimensional.
Villa coped well with this overall, worked hard to combat Ipswich’s physicality & persevered in trying to play some football.
Despite losing Jedinak to an early injury, his replacement, the uncompromising figure of Chris Samba became an impasse for McCarthy’s side all afternoon.
What Samba may lack in deftness of touch or footballing culture, he ably makes up for in brute effectiveness in his role.
Bruce’s side always looked like it was carrying a threat and the game had the feeling of a goal being only a “matter of time”.
The probing and questions of the Ipswich defence began to mount.
After a good through ball from Hourihane, Adomah delivered a perfectly weighted cross onto the head of Davies. The youngster made a real impression again over 90 minutes, excellent in fact, but will be disappointed not to have found at least the target on this occasion.
Then came the breakthrough.
After a volleyed Whelan effort was blocked – the Irishman met his own deflected rebound with a header to find Adomah inside the box.
With much still to do, Adomah picked his way through the flailing Ipswich defence, before finishing smartly with a flick.
As with his fine goal against QPR, the quality of the finish cannot be understated. Nor can the timing, giving Villa the upper hand just a few minutes before the break.
As the second half found it’s feet, Ipswich’s lack of meaningful adventure ultimately played into Villa’s hands.
Whilst there were moments where the visitors could’ve capitalised, there was no sustained period of pressure where Villa were at any real risk.
And so the telling blow was struck.
With the ball breaking in Villa’s half, Snodgrass released a superb lofted through ball, creating disarray amongst the heart of the Ipswich defence.
Adomah, seizing upon this disarray, broke with pace beyond the last man, before coolly slotting the winner in off the post.
— Villa Underground (@avfc_vilr) November 25, 2017
The Holte End has a new hero unexpectedly growing before it’s eyes, with the winger delivering goals and exciting play week after week.
In truth, Adomah has been a revelation this season and is in welcome rich form. Whilst his contribution should be rightly celebrated, it’s alarming to consider where we might be without him, or indeed, what we would do should that be the case.
However, there is an able supporting cast quietly under-pinning this Villa sides progress.
Kienan Davis, mentioned above, was unplayable at times.
The youngster, barely heard of outside of Under-23 circles a few months ago, expertly held up the ball any number of times throughout the game. This was often against a backdrop of recurring fouls, which the referee [useless for both teams] saw fit to allow go repeatedly unchecked.
Josh Onomah, unfairly criticised by some for stating his obvious ambitions with his parent club midweek, produced another display that underlined his worth to our season – as well as his broader potential as a footballer. Technically excellent, physically imposing and with a refreshing eagerness to get himself or the ball forward; On his day he makes things tick for us.
Then comes recognition for those charged with doing the dirty work, minus the dark arts.
Alan Hutton retains his position in the starting eleven based on the strength of his recent performances. Ipswich was no different. The former Scottish international was comfortable defensively over 90 minutes, and provided a number of bursts out of defence, carrying the ball cleverly upfield.
Then there’s Glenn Whelan. Whelan struggled in his early Villa appearances, but his most recent displays have been outstanding. Whilst for some, all effort seems to be invested in finding fault, his performance against Ipswich was virtually flawless. A learned display of break up play, midfield ‘Generalling’ and a number of worthy contributions upfield (note the first goal), which often go un-noticed.
In this side, and through results like this, we are starting to see the rationale for sticking with a manager like Bruce.
We now find ourselves with 3 wins in a week, 9 more points and with genuine momentum in a division that demands you not only keep alongside any pacesetter, but that you keep them looking over their shoulder too. 4th is a fantastic position at this juncture – positioning the club superbly to pounce in the upcoming period of fixture congestion.
All this despite injuries to figureheads Terry & Kodjia, the occasional set-back like Sheffield Wednesday and whilst still rejuvenating a club which never used to win away…or indeed…have ‘winning’ as part of it’s DNA for countless seasons.
Up next is a challenging away tie to Leeds United. The type of tricky, troublesome fixture where teams can get found out.
However, Villa are a different beast this time around and we have to hope that any result will turn heads for the right reasons.
Match Preview to follow.