Match: Aston Villa v Brighton
Date: Saturday 19th October 2019
Venue: Villa Park
Grealish 45, Targett 90
Heaton, Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Targett, Nakamba, McGinn, Grealish, Hourihane (Trezeguet 83), El Ghazi (Luiz 76), Wesley (Davis 76). Unused subs: Steer, Taylor, Lansbury, Konsa.
Story in brief
Matt Targett’s sensational last-gasp goal gave Villa a dramatic victory, just when they looked like being denied by battling ten-man Brighton.
The left-back sent an unstoppable angled shot into the far corner in stoppage time for his first Villa goal after skipper Jack Grealish had slipped a short pass between two opponents on the left-hand edge of the penalty area.
It was also a day to celebrate for Grealish, who netted his first-ever Premier League goal at Villa Park for our equaliser on the stroke of half-time.
Brighton went ahead when defender Adam Webster headed home a deep free-kick from Pascal Gross at the far post, but Villa took control after Aaron Mooy had been sent off for a second bookable offence in the 35th minute.
The home side thought they were level when Conor Hourihane drove into the roof of the net seven minutes later, only for the effort to be disallowed by VAR for a foul by Wesley on keeper Mat Ryan during the build-up.
But Villa’s frustration turned to delight in first-half stoppage time.
Having started the move, Grealish slid in for a close-range conversion after Wesley’s short pass had set up Frederic Guilbert for a superb low cross from the right.
As the game wore on, it looked as if Dean Smith’s men would have to settle for a point, particularly when sub Keinan Davis was denied by a spectacular Ryan save.
But Targett was on target for the final word.
No luck of the Irish
Conor Hourihane had certainly put in a shift when he was substituted by Trezeguet in the 63rd minute.
Despite being on the pitch for only just over an hour, the Irish midfielder might easily have walked off with four goals.
He twice delivered superb free-kicks which were tipped away by keeper Mat Ryan, who also combined with a defender to block Hourihane’s powerful drive after Matt Targett’s low cross created an inviting opportunity.
And even when he found the roof of the net with his blistering 40th-minute shot, it was ruled out by the latest VAR decision to go against Villa.
No wonder he departed to a standing ovation.
Salute for Tyrone
Every Villa player was given a warm reception as his name was announced before kick-off, but when the announcer reached “Number 40, Tyrone Mings” the place simply erupted.
The noisy, extended appreciation indicated just how impressed Villa supporters were by the central defender’s England debut against Bulgaria last Monday.
Quite apart from his composed performance in Sofia, Mings also conducted himself with dignity as some of Gareth Southgate’s players were subject to racist abuse by a section of home supporters in Sofia.
Mings, by the way, became the 73rd Villa player to represent England at full international level.
Dean Smith’s men take on champions Manchester City in a 12.30pm kick-off at the Etihad Stadium next Saturday.
Then we’re back at Villa the following Wednesday, 30th October, for what promises to be an intriguing fourth-round Carabao Cup tie against Wolves.