Match: Aston Villa v Blackburn Rovers
Date: Saturday 30th March 2019
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
Venue: Villa Park
Abraham 8, Mings 61
Steer; Elmohamady, Hause, Mings, Taylor; Whelan, Grealish (Hourihane 87), McGinn; Green (Adomah 66) Abraham, El Ghazi. UNUSED SUBS: Sarkic, Tuanzebe, Davis, Jedinak, Kodjia.
Story in brief
Villa stepped up their promotion bid with a history-making victory which should have been comfortable but was ultimately nerve-jangling.
Tammy Abraham’s 22nd goal for the club, plus a fine Tynone Mings header, put Dean Smith’s side in control, although it was an edgy finish after Amari’I Bell reduced the deficit in the 74th minute.
It was Villa’s fifth consecutive league win – a feat they have never previously achieved during the month of March.
The opening goal was sheer perfection, John McGinn’s astute pass and Anwar El Ghazi’s precise low cross leaving Abraham with a tap-in from point-blank range.
And such was Villa’s early invention that they could have had the game won by the 20th minute.
Abraham saw a shot rebound off David Ray Martin’s legs following a brilliant build-up involving Glenn Whelan and McGinn, who also had two powerful shots well saved by the Blackburn keeper.
The visitors’ only first-half threat was a Danny Graham shot which clipped the top of the bar, and although Villa’s energy levels dipped slightly after the interval, it was no great surprise when Mings doubled the lead just past the hour mark.
The on-loan defender pushed forward as Villa began to exert pressure, and when McGinn crossed from the left, he beat Raya Martin with a well-placed header just inside the near post.
Just as the home side seemed to be cruising, though, Bell pounced from close range after Jed Steer had pushed out a free-kick.
Tyrone a tower of strength
He’s only with us on loan, but what an important signing Tyrone Mings is proving to be.
Once again, the Bournemouth centre-back was a tower of strength at the heart of Villa’s back four, clearing the ball unceremoniously when required but also displaying classy composure alongside Kortney Hause.
And he was equally effective at the other end of the pitch when he headed Villa’s second goal.
Angel delight for the old boys
It’s been quite a while since we saw Juan Pablo Angel and Martin Laursen in these parts, so it was no surprise that they were both welcomed back with open arms.
The former Colombian striker and Danish defender were given a tumultuous ovation when they made an appearance on the pitch at half-time.
“I can’t explain the feeling I have,” Angel told supporters. “This is the first time I have been back since I left and it’s wonderful to see everyone again.”
Angel and Laursen they weren’t the only ex-Villans enjoying the Spring sunshine.
The match was also attended by Dennis Mortimer, Ken McNaught, Mark Walters, Garry Thompson and George Boateng, while Tony Daley was co-commentating for AVTV Live.
And hopefully a few of our current players will have impressed another former Villa man, England manager Gareth Southgate!
Villa head to South Yorkshire next Saturday to take on Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
It’s a tough assignment for Dean Smith’s men, with extra spice added by the fact that Wednesday are now managed by former Villa boss Steve Bruce.
John McGinn’s wonder goal was the only consolation when the Owls won 2-1 at Villa Park in October.
We will happily settle for a couple of simple away goals this time around.