Match: Aston Villa v Reading
Date: 3rd April, 2018
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
Venue: Villa Park
Weather: 9c, partly cloudy
Villa returned to winning ways with a comfortable victory over 10-man Reading after the visitors had Paul Edwards sent off for two bookable offences in the opening half hour.
Steve Bruce’s men took full control after the interval as goals from Birkir Bjarnason, Conor Hourihane and Scott Hogan kept alive hopes of automatic promotion.
Bjarnason opened the scoring with a rising shot following a fine move between Jack Grealish and Robert Snodgrass, with Hourihane heading home from a Snodgrass cross to double the lead.
And when Reading keeper Vito Mannone attempted to dribble the ball out of his goalmouth, Hogan dispossessed him to fire home number three.
It could have been more, sub Jonathan Kodjia twice forcing excellent saves from Mannone, who also tipped away Hourihane’s low drive.
Villa were dominant even before Edwards was dismissed, although their early openings were restricted to off-target efforts from Grealish, Bjarnason and Albert Adomah.
But once the visitors were down to 10, the chances began to flow, with Royals keeper Mannone in regular action.
Mannone clutched a powerful Hogan header before smothering the ball at the striker’s feet when a goal looked certain.
By the interval, the keeper had made further saves to deny Hogan, Hourihane, Snodgrass and Grealish – but that merely delayed the inevitable.
Reading red card
Edwards (two yellow)
VILLA: Johnstone; Elmohamady, Chester, Terry (c), Taylor; Hourihane, Bjarnason; Snodgrass (Onomh 66), Grealish (Whelan 75), Adomah (Kodjia 66); HoganUnused subs: Bunn, Lansbury, Jedinak, Grabban.
READING: Mannone; Gunter (c), Ilori, Moore, Blackett; Aluko (Martin 73), Bacuna, Evans (Kelly 65), Edwards, Barrow; Smith (Clement HT).Unused subs: Jaakkola, van den Berg, Swift, Holmes.
Referee: Darren Bond
Assistant Referee 1: Matthew McGrath
Assistant Referee 2: Matt Foley
Fourth Official: Ollie Yates