Match: Aston Villa v QPR
Date: Tuesday 1st January 2019
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
Venue: Villa Park
Abraham 21, 75
Freeman 32, Eze 57
Steer; Bree, Elphick, Chester, Hutton; McGinn, Hourihane, Bjarnason; Adomah (Bolasie 61), Abraham, Kodjia (El Ghazi 61). Subs: Bunn, Whelan, Hogan, Davis, Elmohamady.
Story in brief
Tammy Abraham’s brace took his Villa haul to an incredible 16 goals in 20 games but Dean Smith’s men had to settle for a single point in their first match of 2019.
Villa were well worth their lead but had to battle back for a draw after falling behind early in the second half.
Smith’s side should really have been ahead before Abraham made the breakthrough.
The striker had seen an early shot diverted for a corner by keeper Joe Lumley’s legs, while John McGinn had rattled the bar with a fierce drive from just outside the penalty area.
But a minute after that frustration, Conor Hourihane delivered a cross from the right, and Abraham ghosted in to send a glancing header past Lumley from close range.
Although Eberechie Eze had squandered a glorious chance right in front of goal, the visitors were level when Luke Freeman made a forceful run and drove powerfully into the top corner.
Eze put the visitors in front when he converted a cross from the right following a swift counter-attack.
But Abraham was on target for a second time when he nudged home low centre from sub Anwar El Ghazi after James Bree had started the move with a fine pass.
Tammy’s top 20
This is a touch tentative, given than he has played only 20 games and he’s not strictly our player.
But Tammy Abraham’s breakthrough against Rangers means he now boasts the best goals-to-games ratio in Villa’s history.
The on-loan striker has now scored an incredible 16 goals – and average of one every 1.25 games.
That’s a slightly better ratio than Pongo Waring (1.34) who was on target 167 times in 244 games, including a club record haul of 50 in the 1930/31 season.
It will quite an achievement if Abraham can maintain his impressive ratio but he is certainly on course to be the first Villa player since Peter Withe in 1980/81 to score 20 league goals in one season.
Dean Smith wasted no time in making changes after Rangers had gone in front in the 57th minute.
The Head Coach recognised that wingers Albert Adomah and Jonathan Kodjia had not been as effective as he would have liked, so he replaced them both in a double substitution just past the hour mark.
The changes made a big difference.
Anwar El Ghazi set up the equaliser for Tammy Abraham, while Yannick Bolasie twice went close to grabbing a winner.
We’re up for the Cup on Saturday, 5th January, with another big crowd in prospect for our third round FA Cup tie against Swansea City (3pm).
It will be the third time we have faced the Swans since Dean Smith’s appointment as manager and Villa have won the two Championship games by a single goal.
Can we make it three and book a place in the fourth-round draw?