Aston Villa banished their away-day blues to see off ten-man Ipswich Town in style.
And this particular victory was most important – not so much to keep the pressure on Fulham and Cardiff – but to remind the claret and blues that they CAN win on the road after three slip-ups in succession.
Conor Hourihane fired the visitors ahead after the rebound of a deflected Lewis Grabban effort cannonned back off the post and into the Irishman’s path.
Grant Ward then received his marching orders for a horror-tackle on Neil Taylor before the break, allowing Villa to run riot after the interval with a man advantage.
A deadly double from Grabbam and a late header from substitute Henri Lansbury sealed the victory – and went some way to erasing the painful memories of Bolton, Hull and Norwich.
Failing to win any of those away outings has cost Villa the initiative in the race for the top-two.
But it’s still not over, and even when it officially is, this win will help build confidence ahead of an inevitable play-off campaign.
Gregg Evans was in Suffolk. This is how he rated the players:
Hardly had a save to make in what was another very quiet afternoon for him. Still. five clean sheets in the last six games will please him.
Reliable and consistent at the back and was rarely beaten. But sometimes you feel he could offer more going forward, especially when Villa had a man advantage.
Won important challenges and made crucial blocks including one to stop Ward in the first-half. Never lets you down does he?
Looks so comfortable at centre-back now. Never loses out in the air and made up for his lack of pace with clever decision-making and experienced play.
Struggled to recover after he was fouled horribly by Ward who was subsequently sent-off. Whipped in a few teasing deliveries and joined in with the attacks but was taken off as a precaution shortly after an hour.
Set the tone with a no-nonsense challenge early on to let his opponents know who was the daddy. Sat deep and mopped up on plenty of occasions. Went close himself after the break.
Right place at the right time to tuck away his 11th of the season. Looked desperate to score against his former club and went close on a couple of other occasions. Subbed.
Switched between the left and the right but couldn’t really get going in the first half as he was beaten too often in the challenge. Better after the break and was productive in the final third, setting up both of Grabban’s goals.
Quiet first half and then just as he was starting to get into the game after the break, he was moved to left-back, subsequently reducing his attacking threat. Crossed for Lansbury’s header late on, though,
Appeared to be playing a bit deeper but still performed well. Was inventive, won fouls, and looked to create every time he had the ball.
Played a part in the first, smashed the second away in style – superbly turning Knudsen and firing home – and then added a lovely third for good measure. Strong with his back to goal, too.
HOGAN (for Taylor, 62) – 6.5 – Had two late chances – one he smashed wide and another he blazed over from close range.
LANSBURY (for Hourihane, 74) – 7.5 – Superbly planted a header home to fire in Villa’s fourth. He’s not the forgotten man now is he?
ADOMAH (for Grabban, 80) – 7 – Had a few runs down the left but didn’t have much time to make an impact.
Bunn, Samba, Bree, Snodgrass,
Ipswich (3-5-2): Bialkowski, Knudsen, Carter-Vickers, Spence, Ward, Skuse, Hyam, (Folami, 76) Nydam (Connolly, 74) Kenlock, Celina (Sears, 55) Waghorn Not used: Gleeson, Carayol, Smith, Crowe
Hourihane (24), Grabban (57, 78), Lansbury (82) – VILLA
Derby (home) Saturday 3pm
Source : BirminghamMail