Match: Fulham v Aston Villa
Date: April 17, 2017
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
Venue: Craven Cottage
Attendance: 23, 891
Weather: 11C, cloudy
Ryan Sessegnon (17 mins)
Jack Grealish (50 mins)
Sone Aluko (56 mins)
Neeskens Kebano (79 mins)
Jack Grealish’s fourth goal of the season wasn’t enough as 10-man Villa suffered a 3-1 defeat at Fulham.
Grealish equalised early in the second period after Ryan Sessegnon had put the hosts ahead only for Sone Aluko and then Neeskens Keban to restore the hosts’ lead.
Villa had to play the final 67 minutes with 10 men after Jonathan Kodjia was shown a straight red card for an off the ball incident.
Steve Bruce made five changes to the team which started Saturday’s defeat to Reading – Grealish, James Bree, Tommy Elphick, Gary Gardner and Scott Hogan coming into a 3-5-2 formation.
It was a fast-paced start at a quintessential Craven Cottage - the play-off chasers attacked down both flanks with pace.
Moments after stopper Sam Johnstone produced a fine, fingertip save to deny Aluko, the Whites took the lead on 17 minutes – Sessegnon’s initial effort crashing off the crossbar, the 16-year-old able to fire home the rebound.
The visitors’ afternoon soon went from bad to worse – top-scorer Kodjia dismissed following a tangle with Ryan Fredericks.
Villa’s response was positive, however.
Gary Gardner’s crisp drive was deflected behind for a corner before Elphick saw an attempt blocked and header edge over Marcus Bettinelli’s crossbar.
Slavisa Jokanovic’s outfit almost doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time – Tim Ream’s attempt drifting marginally wide of the post.
Bruce’s men were quick out of the traps at the start of the second period and levelled in fine fashion.
Patient build-up ended with Hogan teeing up Grealish, the latter cut inside and curled a fine effort past former Accrington Stanley loanee Bettinelli.
The Londoners regained the lead in fortuitous circumstances soon after – Aluko’s volley hit stopper Johnstone but still edged over the line.
While Villa’s work-rate could not be questioned, the hosts used the extra man to their advantage, dictating possession.
They made the game safe with just over 10 minutes remaining – substitute Kabano with a low drive from a tight angle.
Jordan Amavi (Foul)
Scott Hogan (Foul)
Gary Gardner (Foul)
FULHAM: Bettinelli, Fredericks, Kalas, McDonald, Ream, Malone (Kebano 55), Cairney (C), Aluko (Piazon 87), Johansen, Sessegnon, Ayite. Unused subs: Button, Parker, Cyriac, Madl, Sigurdsson.
VILLA: Johnstone, Bree (Hutton 70), Chester (C), Elphick, Baker, Amavi (Hepurn-Murphy 77), Jedinak, Gardner, Grealish, Kodjia, Hogan (Hourihane 82). Unused subs: Bunn, Lansbury, Bacuna, Adomah.
Referee: Mr D. Coote
Assistant Referee 1: Mr I.Cooper
Assistant referee 2: Mr N. Nugg
Fourth Official: Mr M Salisbury