Cardiff City fell to a 3-1 defeat at Villa Park on Saturday, 26th November 2016, despite a battling performance against a strong Aston Villa side.
Neil Warnock named an unchanged starting eleven from the previous win over high flying Huddersfield Town. One change was made to the squad with Stuart O’Keefe replacing Marouane Chamakh amongst the substitutes. The hosts, who spent heavily in the summer to bring in a number of new players, started the match with a front three of Jonathan Kodjia, Jordan Ayew and Albert Adomah. Former Bluebirds striker Rudy Gestede and Villa cult hero Gabriel Agbonlahor forced to take up spots on the substitutes bench.
It was Cardiff City who had the first chance of the match after just two minutes with lively Canadian international Junior Hoilett going close with a diving header, from the right side, that drifted wide of goal.
The aforementioned Kodjia, a high profile summer signing from Bristol City, has been a danger to Sky Bet Championship defences since moving to the league and went close on 11 minutes. His low shot deflected just wide of goal by Sean Morrison.
Already a competitive match, the game at Villa Park received an extra bite as Cardiff’s winger Hoilett was taken out on the half-way line by Nathan Baker in an off-the-ball challenge. Referee Geoff Eltringham stopped play for Hoilett to receive treatment, but no foul or punishment given much to the chagrin of the Bluebirds players.
The game received a further burst of life on 24 minutes when Villa took the lead, somewhat against the run of play. A driving run from Jordan Amavi from defence helped beat the City defence, before his cross fortunately for the home side fell into the path of Albert Adomah via a deflection. The former Middlesbrough winger making no mistake from six yards out.
Neil Warnock’s men though were full of fight and levelled the match inside five minutes at the famed Holte End of Villa Park. Aron Gunnarsson with a lovely low pass through to Rickie Lambert just inside the box and the England international made no mistake with a composed low finish into Pierluigi Gollini’s bottom right corner to deservedly level the tie.
The match continued at some pace throughout the half, with both teams fighting to gain an advantage. The Villans went in at the break with a one goal advantage after scoring a second goal on 39 minutes. Striker Kodjia rising heading his side into the lead.
Warnock’s men came out for the second half determined to put pressure on Steve Bruce’s side with Hoilett and Morrison both going close within five minutes of the restart. The Cardiff captain had a further chance on the hour mark, but was unable to keep his header down, from Whittingham’s set piece, under pressure from the home defence.
Kodjia was a thorn in City’s side in this match, and his skilful play on the wing almost set up a good opportunity for Villa with twenty minutes remaining. Kodjia beating Lee Peltier for pace on the left side before crossing for Adomah, who headed wide. Kodjia and Peltier continued their battle one minute later with the Cardiff City No.2 receiving a booking for a foul on the Villa striker.
Ben Amos made a fine stop to substitute Agbonlahor on 79 minutes before City had their best chance of the second half through their own sub, Frédéric Gounongbe. Goungonbe’s headed effort eight yards out from Hoilett’s left sided cross was straight at the thankful Gollini.
Cardiff’s job of getting back into the match was made more difficult on 84 minutes as Peltier was shown his second yellow for a late foul on England U21 international Grealish.
It was the 21-year-old from Solihull who helped secure the points for the hosts, when drawing a foul inside the box from Morrison. Former Bluebirds striker Rudy Gustede happily performed the Ayatollah when called upon after his arrival onto the pitch, but it was the Benin international forward who stepped up to score against Cardiff City in added on time from the spot.
FULL TIME: ASTON VILLA 3-1 CARDIFF CITY
Aston Villa: Gollini, Baker (Elphick 46’), Ayew (Agbonlahor 63’), Chester, Westwood, Hutton, Amavi, Jedinak, Kodjia, Adomah (Gestede 74’), Grealish. Subs Not Used: Bunn, Bacuna, Gardner, Cissokho.
Cardiff City: Amos, Peltier, Bennett, Morrison, Bamba, Whittingham, Ralls, Gunnarsson, (Richardson 81’), Pilkington (Noone 74’), Lambert (Gounongbe 74’), Hoilett. Subs Not Used: Wilson, Connolly, O’Keefe, Harris.