Match: Aston Villa v Reading
Date: Saturday 25th August 2018
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
Venue: Villa Park
Baldock (pen) (90)
Nyland; Tuanzebe, Chester (C), Jedinak, Hutton; Bjarnason; Elmohamady, McGinn, El Ghazi (Adomah 67) Grealish (Hourihane 45); Kodjia (Taylor 90). UNUSED SUBS: Moreira, Elphick, Hepburn-Murphy, Whelan.
Story in brief
For the third consecutive home game, a stoppage time goal proved decisive – but this time Villa were fuming as two valuable points slipped away.
A controversial late penalty decision denied Steve Bruce’s men victory, Sam Baldock’s spot kick earning Reading a draw at Villa Park.
James Chester was adjudged to have fouled Baldock, even though the skipper appeared to have played the ball, leaving home supporters to head away bitterly disappointed.
Villa had led through Ahmed Elmohamady’s stooping header following a left-wing cross from debut boy Anwar El Ghazi, who had earlier seen a shot kept out by keeper Vito Mannone’s feet.
The home side were also unlucky when a Chester header hit the bar and Jack Grealish fired not far wide of the far post.
But there was a massive let-off eight minutes from the end when Baldock hit the bar and Ørjan Nyland made a reflex save to turn away Yako Meite’s shot from the rebound.
Anyone who remembers the TV talent show New Faces might think Villa Park is turning into an audition studio.
In the past few weeks we have welcomed a succession of loan signings, in addition to permanent buys Nyland and John McGinn.
Anwar El Ghazi was the latest player to make his debut, and the former Lille winger had the satisfaction of providing a perfect cross for Ahmed Elmohamady to head Villa’s goal.
Home supporters also saluted our latest arrival Yannick Bolasie when he was paraded on the pitch before the game, so it won’t be long before we see another new face in claret and blue.
And it was good to see the club’s new majority owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens watching the match from the stand.
It was just a pity they couldn’t celebrate.
On a day when Villa didn’t reproduce the exciting form they had against Wigan and Brentford, James Chester gave a true captain’s performance.
His composure and anticipation were exemplary, ensuring that Villa held firm until he was harshly adjudged to have brought down Sam Baldock for the visitors’ late equaliser.
There was a time when Burton Albion v Aston Villa was never more than a pre-season friendly, but we have faced them four times in the Championship over the past two seasons.
And although the Brewers are now in League One, Steve Bruce’s men will be going up against them again in competitive action on Tuesday in the second round of the Carabao Cup.
The tie at Pirelli Stadium kicks off at 7.45pm.
"It's a huge disappointment to us all.
"There were two tired teams and we've made a mistake – James Chester has been a bit reckless, which he knows.
"He didn't have to do it and it's given the referee a decision to make.
"Unfortunately the referee has given the penalty. Some would say it is one, some would say it isn't.
"It's disappointing that the player has had the option of going to ground, which he didn't need to."