Match: Burton Albion v Aston Villa
Date: Saturday 21st July 2018
Venue: Pirelli Stadium
Kodjia, Adomah, De Laet, Gardner
Steer, Hutton (Suliman 65), Chester (Elphick 60), De Laet (Blackett-Taylor 65), Taylor (Bree 73), Green (Clark 65), Lansbury (Whelan 60), Hourihane (Gardner 60), Adomah (Knibbs 80), Grealish (Doyle-Hayes 60), Kodjia. SUBS NOT USED: Bunn, Sarkic.
Story in brief
Villa strode to victory in their fourth pre-season outing at Burton as they lifted the The Bass Vase Trophy.
Steve Bruce's men started brightly with Jonathan Kodjia opening the scoring inside five minutes after some good work from Man of the Match Ritchie De Laet.
The hosts rallied and worked some good openings up until the break, but were unable to really test Jed Steer in the Villa goal.
And that lack of cutting edge from Albion led to the claret and blues taking full advantage in the second half.
Albert Adomah doubled our lead soon after the restart before De Laet coolly slotted home following a superb run from deep.
Gary Gardner then rounded off the scoring with a simple tap-in after some good combination work from Corey Blackett-Taylor and Adomah.
New formation trialled again
There was a noticeable experiment of shape against Walsall in midweek, as Villa employed three centre-halves between two wing-backs.
And that continued at the Pirelli on Saturday, with James Chester, Neil Taylor and Alan Hutton filling those central roles while De Laet and Andre Green were pinned out wide on the right and left respectively.
They all operated around a central midfield trio of Conor Hourihane, Henri Lansbury and Jack Grealish, with Adomah and Kodjia further up field.
Might we see this system deployed in our opening Championship fixture against Hull City? The boss admitted post-game that only time will tell.
Kodjia’s strike in the fifth minute made it three goals in three games for the striker, but it wasn’t just his prowess in front of target that was impressive.
His willingness to chase lost causes, win his aerial battles and demand the ball off his team-mates was admirable.
All of those attributes, in addition to his link-up play with Adomah, meant the Ivorian was one of the stand-out performers again.
Despite several good performances there was only one man worthy of the accolade – Ritchie De Laet.
From the get-go, the Belgian was bombing up and down the right-hand flank and causing problems for the Burton backline going forward, while looking assured as ever when defending his own goal.
It’s becoming evident how much a near-to-full pre-season is benefitting the defender both fitness-wise and in gaining an understanding with his team-mates.
De Laet rounded off his stellar performance with a stellar goal. Picking the ball up on the right, the wing-back ran at the heart of the Brewers backline before unleashing a low powerful effort which nestled into the bottom-left hand corner.
He’s certainly giving Bruce food for thought in that new-look position.
We now face West Ham United at the Banks's Stadium on Wednesday.
Then it's German side Dynamo Dresden in our last pre-season game before we visit Hull City in our opening Championship game two weeks on Monday.
You can re-watch the 4-0 win at Burton below.
Goal times: Kodjia (4:30), Adomah (50:50), De Laet (57:16), Gardner (74:11)