Aston Villa have recorded their first win under new manager Roberto Di Matteo and in the process have collected their first win in the Skybet English Championship. Villa swept aside Rotherham United 3-0 at Villa Park overnight in one of their most promising performances in recent times.
Aston Villa came into the game under a fair bit of pressure after losing on the opening day of the season to fellow promotion hopefuls Sheffield Wednesday before being embarrassed 3-1 by Luton Town in the English Football League Trophy match midweek. However that was all pushed aside as the Birmingham based club put together a cohesive 90 minutes that had their fans cheering for more.
Villa made 7 changes from the side that lost at Luton and from the get go the “Villians” showed an up tempo and positive frame of mind which was severely lacking at Villa Park last season.
Having dominated possession and territory for the first 20 minutes, Villa made their chances count with maligned centre forward Rudy Gestede knocking home a smart cross from fullback Aly Cissokho to ensure Villa played from in front. The goal was started by some strong play in the midfield by new signing Aaron Tshibola who dispossed some sloppy defending by Rotherham and teed up Grealish for sent Cissohko away down the left for the ensuring cross to Gestede.
The up tempo style of play and high pressing by Aston Villa made it increasingly difficult for Rotherham to get out of their own half and create any meaningful chances. Stephen Kelly had Rotherham’s best chance of the game in the first quarter of an hour of the game but harmlessly shot over the bar from a corner.
Villa continued to dominate proceedings and went it to the half time interval with a 2-0 lead, again courtesy of the man mountain Rudy Gestede. Jordan Ayew burst through the middle of the field before feeding Ross McCormack who linked up nicely with Gestede who lifted the ball over a helpless Lee Camp. The goal had the Villa fans on their feet as their team showed real class and exciting play to round off the opening 45 minutes.
The second half was much more subdued than the first but Villa were still able to create chances and it seemed fitting that Birmingham boy Jack Grealish would have the final say in the match. Grealish showed poise and calmness to Round Camp in the 83rd minute to ensure Villa went away with the 3 points and a confidence boosting win. Grealish struggled in the 2015/2016 Premier League season along with a lot of his fellow first team comrades and it was a pleasant return to form for the winger who showed guile, pace and trickiness in a tantalizing 90 minutes. His 83rd minute effort was his first goal at Villa Park and rather poetic that it was scored in front of the passionate fans in the Holte End.
Speaking after the match, Aston Villa manager Roberto Di Matteo said he wasn’t relieved with the result but was happy with the confidence that it would bring “I am not relieved, I am pleased because I could see some positive signs despite the fact we lost the first game. I could see we are improving and we will keep improving. Results like this will help.
“Many of our players haven’t had that feeling for a long time, so to have that feeling is very important for the players and the fans.
The win was Villa’s first competitive victory in 6 months and the joy that was seen on the faces of the players and the fans after the match shows you that it’s been a long time coming for the claret and blue’s.
To Rotherham’s credit, they tired hard for the 90 minutes but unfortunately didn’t have the quality or resources to challenge Aston Villa, something that their manager Alan Stubbs bemoaned post match “I thought the players stuck at it, but it’s a long season. We are not going to get too downhearted. It showed us that we are up against a team that has significantly more resources than us. They have just paid a record amount of money for one of their strikers (Ross McCormack), we have to be realistic”
Aston Villa take on undefeated Huddersfield Town at Villa Park on Tuesday night whilst Rotherham will attempt to pick themselves up as they travel away to Brighton and Hove Albion also on Tuesday evening.