This was my first live game of the season, unfortunately it looks like I brought bad luck with me, Villa are now seven points off the play-offs.
In terms of the line up, it wasn’t too promising. A midfield of Westwood and Gardener looked weak while McCormack started upfront. It quickly became clear that the Scot couldn’t play the lone striker role on his own.
It took fifteen minutes for Cardiff to break the deadlock. Up to this point the home side were all over us. Kadeem Harris was giving Amavi the run around down the left hand side.
Anyway, the goal. Joe Bennett’s was initially scrambled away. The ball found it’s way to Ralls whose shot (dodgy first touch) creeped in leaving Mark Bunn motionless. Bunn was later mugged off by mascot, who went to give him the ball then took it away.
Villa were really poor in the first-half. Passes weren’t finding their target while Cardiff were moving the ball around nicely. The home side were winning the midfield battle too. Aaron Gunnarsson was controlling the game, while Ashley Westwood in the middle for us only had three touches of the ball before he was hooked at the break.
Bruce made drastic changes at half-time. Tsihbola and Gabby came on for Gardener and Westwood, and Villa instantly improved. I saw a stat at the end of the game which showed that Tsihbola had five times as many touches in the second-half than Gardener and Westwood had in the first.
McCormack came closest for Villa in the second-half, hitting the crossbar with a free-kick (probably after Grealish had been fouled the 8594843 time). Cardiff also hit the bar with Zohore’s header from about two-yards out. Gabby had a two half-decent chances, both from the just inside the box and both were saved by Brian Murphy.
Overall Villa just weren’t good enough. The defence looked sloppy, the midfield was weak, especially in the first-half. There was nothing upfront until Gabby came on, who created a few chances for himself, although he lost nearly every header.
On a positive note, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy came on with ten minutes to go, which shows Bruce is willing to give him a chance. With the FA Cup next week, Bruce has the chance to rest some players.