Aston Villa 1 – 0 Cardiff: The Marathon Nears Its Conclusion

Three years ago I was at Villa Park for a third round tie against Blackpool. With five minutes to go of a fairly dull game, Christian Benteke scored a late winner with a peach of a volley.

And this game had the same feel to it. With little left of the game, Jack Grealish hit a sweet volley off the post to get Villa the win against a resolute Cardiff side.

In terms of the line up, it was a real mish mash of a defence, with John Terry injured Mile Jedinak came in at centre-back. I’m sure most Villa fans had flashbacks to his questionable performance against Sheffield United. As well as this, Tuanzebe came off relatively early into the game and found himself replaced by James Bree – who wasn’t even in the initially announced squad.

The home side almost scored straight away, Lewis Grabban was slipped through but his shot could only hit the side netting.

The opening exchanges were played with the ball in the air, which suited Cardiff with the bigger guys in the middle.

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing came closest for the away sides in the first-half, burning Mile Jedinak prior to hitting the far post.

Aside from the action on the pitch, there was a great moment where we were chanting, “Brucey knock him out” referring to Neil Warnock, cue Bruce giving the crowd a wave.

Sam Johnstone made sure we went into half-time at 0-0. The Man United loanee made good save to his left from Glenn Whelan’s header before getting a hand to Callum Paterson’s follow up.

And in the second half Johnstone continued to earn his money, sticking out a foot to stop Kenneth Zohore.

Johnathan Kodjia came on for a fairly ineffective Albert Adomah on the hour mark, and the ball stuck to former more than it did Grabban who went out on the left.

The aforementioned Grabban set up our bet opportunity with a lovely through ball along the floor to Connor Hourihane. However, the Irishman poked the ball both past the keeper and the post.

As the game entered the latter stages, Villa found more space in midfield to work with. Nevertheless, Johnstone had to keep out Mendez-Lang’s shot from range reminding us Cardiff were still a threat.

But on 85 minutes, Villas greatest threat of all scored one of the best goals I’ve seen at Villa Park. Snodgrass’ free-kick was half cleared to Jack Grealish who hit a sweet volley from outside the box in of the post. If you haven’t seen the goal yet you need to!

So where does this leave Villa now?

Well, barring a huge bottle job from Fulham, it looks like play-off is where we’ll end up. It’s frustrating that we can beat Wolves and Cardiff but not QPR, Bolton and Norwich. Then again that’s Villa for you!

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