Match: Aston Villa v West Bromwich Albion
Date: Saturday 16th February 2019
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
Venue: Villa Park
Robson-Kanu 41, Rodriguez 45
Kalinic (Steer HT); Hutton, Elphick, Mings, Hause; McGinn, Whelan, Hourihane (Ramsey 60); Elmohamady, Abraham, Green (Kodjia 71). UNUSED SUBS: Taylor, Jedinak, El Ghazi, Adomah.
Story in brief
Two goals in four minutes just before the interval condemned Villa to defeat in a derby which began so promisingly but ended in bitter disappointment.
And to add to the misery, keeper Lovre Kalinic suffered an injury which forced him out of the action at half-time.
Villa should really have been ahead in the eighth minute, Tammy Abraham’s close-range shot being blocked by Sam Johnstone after Ahmed Elmohamady had set up the chance with an inviting pass.
But after Dean Smith’s men had been on top for long periods, they were rocked by a double salvo from the Baggies just before half-time.
Hal Robson-Kanu’s glancing header initially seemed to be going over before it dipped suddenly, and four minutes later Jay Rodriguez doubled the lead with a low 20-yard shot which went in off a post.
It was harsh on Smith’s side, who had been the better side in the opening stages, and they again dominated throughout the second period, when sub keeper Jed Steer was virtually a spectator.
But clear-cut chances were few and far between as the Baggies defended in depth.
Glenn Whelan had a shot charged down in the area, John McGinn’s rising drive was brilliantly tipped away by Johnstone, and Abraham sent a header wide.
The young one
Manager Dean Smith continued to build for the future by including Andre Green in the starting line-up and then introducing Jacob Ramsey.
The Birmingham-born 17-year-old is among the youngest players to appear in Villa’s first team, and although he had little opportunity to shine, he was not overawed by the derby atmosphere.
It was intended as a minute’s applause but it ended up nearer two – and that was perfectly fitting, given that we were saluting two former players.
The football world is mourning the loss of ex-Villa skipper Ian Ross and England’s World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks, and the tribute from all corners of Villa Park was both spontaneous and heartfelt.
Villa head for the Potteries next Saturday to take on Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.
Dean Smith’s men will be looking to go one better than in December 2018, when the teams drew 2-2 at Villa Park.