Aston Villa 3 – 1 Cardiff City
Three goals, three points and Neil Warnock upset; job well done.
Warnock, whose name is an x-rated anagram, apparently waited for Jack Grealish in the tunnel post-match which proved the second part of the anagram is definitely true. The Cardiff manager sent his players out to kick Grealish which was rewarded with defeat but he was more upset that Jackie-boy had hit the turf every time.
Apparently, that’s cheating according to Warnock but sending players out to kick lumps off the opposition is all part and parcel of the game.
Warnock’s limited managerial skills explain Cardiff’s place in the bottom three.
Kodjia missed the game’s first chance but it only staved off the inevitable for a few minutes longer. Albert Adomah broke the deadlock midway through the first half, calmly finishing after Ayew and Amavi had worked the opportunity with some fine wing play down the left.
This being the Villa we all know and love, only paved the way for a sharp Cardiff equaliser with Rickie Lambert, who is not far short of drawing his footballing pension, applying a spritely finish when through on Gollini.
It was a match where the attacks held a lot of menace but sturdier rearguards on both sides meant the half-time score would not be matching the result at Swansea yesterday. As it was, there was just one goal before the interval, courtesy of Jonathan Kodjia. The Ivory Coast international began and finished the move, crossing to the back stick where Adomah toyed with his defender and hung a cross to the opposite side of the goal where Kodjia headed home.
The second half saw Villa assert themselves more on the fixture, dominating possession and providing some intent to go with it. Not that it was one-way traffic with Cardiff popping up with the odd chance or two. Morrison headed over from close range before Gounongbe headed straight at Gollini.
Grealish was then felled in the area – most thought it a spot-kick. Adomah almost turned Kodjia’s lashed effort into something more meaningful as the tempo and temperature raised. Agbonlahor, booked for protesting about the foul on Grealish was given a warning by the referee about his conduct and promptly disappeared from view.
Justice was late in coming. Grealish, battered from pillar to post, was kicked one time too many for the ref’s liking and Peltier made the loneliest walk in football following his second yellow card.
The numeric advantage worked in Villa’s favour with Gestede given the job of converting a penalty awarded for the umpteenth foul on Grealish, this time by Morrison.
It’s left us in eleventh which might not seem much to most teams but given where we were six games ago, it’s a massive step forward. Four points from the play-off places and a trip to Elland Road next Saturday evening, Steve Bruce’s reign at Villa Park has seen smiles returning to everyone’s faces.