Match: Aston Villa v Nottingham Forest
Date: Wednesday 28th November 2018
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
Venue: Villa Park
Abraham (11, 14, 36, 71), El Ghazi (75)
Grabban (3, 82), Carvalho (6), Cash (21), Lolley (51)
Nyland; Hutton, Tuanzebe, Chester, Taylor; McGinn (Whelan 78), Hourihane, Grealish; Bolasie (Elmohamdy 82), Abraham, Kodjia (El Ghazi 66). UNUSED SUBS: Bunn, Hogan, Doyle-Hayes,O’Hare.
Story in brief
One of the most amazing contests even witnessed at Villa Park ended with honours even – and Tammy Abraham became the first Villa player for 30 years to score four goals in one game.
Dean Smith’s men trailed three times but were still disappointed not to win after leading for the first time after Forest had gone down to 10 men.
It was a surreal night on which it was difficult to keep pace with the events of the opening period.
Forest were two-up inside six minutes with neat finishes from former Villa loanee Lewis Grabban and Joao Carvalho, but eight minutes later Villa were back on level terms.
Abraham reduced the deficit when he met Yannick Bolasie’s right-wing cross with a stunning header, although his equaliser was the result of sheer persistence.
John McGinn’s fierce drive was palmed out by keeper Costel Pantilimon and Jonathan Kodjia’s follow-up effort was blocked on the line, but Abraham was perfectly positioned to divert the ball over the line as it cannoned into him.
Matthew Cash had restored the visitors’ advantage before Abraham completed his hat-trick by sending Pantilimon the wrong way from the penalty spot after Bolasie was brought down in the area.
Forest were in front yet again six minutes after the interval, thanks to Joe Lolley’s 25-yard drive, but when Tobias Figueriredo was sent off for a crude challenge on McGinn, Grealish swung in the resultant free-kick and Abraham headed his fourth inside the near post.
Sub Anwar El Ghazi put Villa ahead for the first time with a superb left-foot shot from Neil Taylor’s cross, only for Grabban to squeeze home his second from a tight angle eight minutes from the end.
England hadn’t won the World Cup when a Villa player last scored four goals in a league fixture.
Although David Platt netted four against Ipswich Town in a League Cup tie almost exactly 30 years ago, the last it happened in the league was when Tony Hateley hit four in a 5-5 draw at Tottenham in March 1966.
But Tammy’s quartet means the young striker has now scored 10 goals in 13 appearances since he arrived on loan from Chelsea, including six in the last three games. Abraham also converted his second penalty in as many games.
On Sunday he had stroked his kick to Lee Camp’s left as the Blues keeper dived to the right. Forest’s Pantilimon was no doubt aware of that and decided to go to the left – as Abraham drilled a low shot into the other corner.
Hero to villain
Holte End heroes can sometimes become Holte End villains, as Lewis Grabban illustrated.
The striker was a fans’ favourite as he scored eight goals while on loan from Bournemouth during the second half of last season, helping Villa to the Championship Play-Offs in the process.
So you could almost have bet your mortgage that he would be on target on his first appearance back at Villa Park in an opposition shirt.
It took him just under three minutes to confirm our worst fears, and then he grabbed a late equaliser to deny us victory.
Even so, he was given a standing ovation when he was substituted near the end.
Other than Barcelona’s Johan Cruyff in 1978, it’s hard to think of many opposition players who have received that accolade.
Championship games are never easy, and there’s another tough one in store on Teesside on Saturday evening.
Dean Smith’s troops head to the Riverside to face high-riding Middlesbrough, the team we beat in the Play-Off semi-final last May.
A repeat of our 1-0 success in the first leg of that semi would be more than welcome.