Match: Aston Villa v Ipswich Town
Date: Saturday 26th January 2019
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
Venue: Villa Park
Abraham 6, 61 (pen)
Kalinic; Hutton, Elphick, Chester, Taylor; Whelan (Kodjia 78), Hourihane; Adomah (Elmohamady 68), McGinn, El Ghazi (Jedinak 84); Abraham. Subs: Steer, Davis, Hause, O’Hare.
Story in brief
Tammy Abraham is just one away from becoming the first Villa player since Peter Withe to score 20 league goals in a single season after his brace ensured three crucial points against bottom-of-the-table Ipswich Town.
The on-loan striker gave Villa an early lead and then doubled it from the penalty spot to take his haul to 19 in 23 games before Freddie Sears put home nerves on edge with a 30-yard drive.
Villa couldn’t have wished for a better start. Less than six minutes had elapsed when Conor Hourihane delivered a superb free-kick from the left and Abraham arrived right on cue to volley into the roof of the net from close range.
Although the home side didn’t immediately capitalise on their early advantage, they began to dominate from the half-hour mark, testing Bartosz Bialkowksi with a succession of shots.
By half-time, the Ipswich keeper had saved well from John McGinn (twice), Hourihane, Abraham and Glenn Whelan, and it was a similar story on the resumption as he parried Whelan’s drive before McGinn fired just too high.
But in the 61st minute, the lead was doubled, Abraham calmly sending Bialkowski the wrong way from the penalty spot after McGinn had been pushed by Alan Judge inside the area.
Sears reduced the deficit with an unstoppable rising drive and the visitors were close to an unlikely equaliser when Trevoh Chalobah’s hit the post with a glancing header.
Abraham twice had chances to complete his hat-trick in the closing stages but was denied by a weak finish and a fine save.
Not just a striker
His goal ratio is now an incredible one every 1.2 games but there’s much more to Tammy Abraham than just his prowess in the opposition penalty area.
The on-loan Chelsea striker once again impressed Villa supporters with his willingness to track back and help both his midfield and defensive colleagues.
At one point in the first half he made a superb crossfield pass from the left-back position – and then raced to the edge of the penalty area to threaten the Ipswich defence.
He may not be very tall, but John McGinn is a colossus at the heart of Villa’s midfield.
We have almost come to take his perpetual motion display for granted but the Scottish star highlighted his value to the team with his ability to win possession, hold the ball under pressure and make forceful runs.
He was also unlucky on this occasion not to add his name to the scoresheet, twice being denied by fine saves.
Villa are back on the road next Saturday when they head to Berkshire to face Reading at the Madejski Stadium.
Dean Smith’s team will be looking to go one better than last September, when the sides drew 1-1 at Villa Park.