Match: Aston Villa v Swansea City
Date: Saturday 20th October 2018
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
Venue: Villa Park
Nyland; Hutton, Tuanzebe, Chester, Taylor; Elmohamady (Bolasie 63) McGinn, Bjarnason, Grealish (Hourihane 82), Adomah (Kodjia 73); Abraham. UNUSED SUBS: Bunn, Whelan, Hogan, Jedinak.
Story in brief
Dean Smith got off to a flying start as Aston Villa’s Head Coach as Tammy Abraham’s eighth-minute header clinched three valuable points against Swansea City.
Villa were well on top in the opening period and were again menacing at the start of the second half, when Jack Grealish saw a shot well saved by Kristoffer Nordfeldt and Abraham squandered a couple of chances which could have given him a hat-trick.
It was far from a straightforward victory, though, and Villa’s anxiety to impress their new boss led to mistakes in the closing stages, when only a number of superb saves from Ørjan Nyland prevented the visitors from grabbing an equaliser.
But the final whistle brought a standing ovation for the team – and their goal was superbly executed.
Ahmed Elomohamady exchanged passes with Grealish before delivering an inviting cross from the right, and Abraham climbed to head his fourth goal of the season from close range.
One of our own
He must have had a good idea of the reception he would be given, particularly after all the positive reaction to his appointment.
But lifelong supporter Dean Smith still looked taken aback as he emerged from the tunnel for his first match as Head Coach.
It was soon time for business, though.
Less than two minutes in, Holte Enders demanded “Deano, Deano, give us a wave.” Smith briefly obliged before quickly turning his attention back to the task in hand.
The attendance of 41,336 was certainly an indication of Smith’s immense popularity.
Only three former managers – Joe Mercer, Jimmy Hogan and David O’Leary – have attracted bigger crowds for their first match in charge at Villa Park.
Farewell Sir Doug
It was a day many of us thought we would never see, but the claret-and-blue faithful gave Sir Doug Ellis a fitting send-off.
Former players and staff lined the touchline before kick-off to pay tribute to the former Chairman, who died earlier this week at the age of 94.
After Brian Little and ex-Swansea player Alan Curtis had laid wreaths on the centre spot, the applause in memory of a true Villa legend was clearly heartfelt before the minute ended with a full-throated roar which heralded the start of the club’s new backroom regime.
Dean Smith’s new charges face two tests on the road before next weekend.
They travel to Norfolk on Tuesday to face Norwich City at Carrow Road, and on Friday they take on QPR at Loftus Road.