West Bromwich Albion 2 - Aston Villa 2

Date: Friday 7th December 2018 Live on Sky Sports
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
Johnstone 6.0, Adarabioyo 5.3 (Burke, 81 4.8), Dawson 6.4, Hegazi 6.5, Gibbs 6.5, Phillips 6.8, Livermore 6.0 (Brunt, 72 5.5), Barry 6.5, Gayle 6.9, Rodriguez 6.0, Barnes 6.5
Unused subs: Myhill, Sako, Mears, Hoolahan, Harper
Manager: Darren Moore 5.7
Scorers: Gayle (28), Rodriguez (91)
Referee: Darren England 6.1
Attendance: 26,513   Home Fans 6.9   Away Fans 5.9
Submit your ratings for this game by clicking here: Ratings submitted so far: 19

Brendan Clegg:

A very lucky point and a wasted opportunity.

Eyebrows raised with Barry in a midfield 3 - not sure he had the legs to do that at 26. Mozza missing - had he been subbed in the last game on 75 mins we might’ve won that match and he might’ve started today. So that’s enough to be angry about.

We started okay and we’re the better team before Villa took the lead through a deflection.

I don’t think we showed enough ambition or urgency to get at Villa but we looked the better team, and when Barnes put Hutton under a bit of pressure he capitulated, Barnes showed great vision to pick out Gayle who then finished a chance that was about twice as difficult as those we missed in the first half against Brentford.

The game swung either way before halftime but 1-1 was fair.

After the break we started like a rocket forcing Villa back but unable to make the breakthrough.

Our midfield was then way too passive allowing Grealish to stroll across our box before laying it off for a great finish by their best player El Ghazi.

The goal stunned us and Villa took control with their tactical changes totally outthinking Moore and Jones.

Our first sub changed our shape but surrendered our ability to win any second ball with Brunt for Livermore - Barry looking leggy. Seemed a bit of a waste to me but we went 4-4-2 and created nothing.

Tosin then made way for Phillips to move to right back and a rare glimpse of Burke on the right.

Wasn’t convinced by that either but at the very death JRod bundled the ball over the line with his hand and we got away with it.

I felt it was an opportunity missed because although Villa were tactically better than us, quality- wise they were very ropey and at the back put it out of play whenever we put them under pressure.

We missed Morrison but we also missed HRK in this system - without his holdup play from long passes we struggle. I also think that too often we lack an easy wide option and we can’t always leave our fullbacks outnumbered because when they come up against quantity wingers, like they did here, we’ll get punished.

It’s starting to look like automatic promotion will be beyond our management this year.

  • SJ - 6 Did okay, really needs to develop some presence.
  • Tosin - 6 Thought he struggled tonight, no easy ball and a tricky opponent.
  • Daws - 6 Some poor passes but generally defended well.
  • Hegazi - 6 Same as Daws, we left them exposed too often.
  • Gibbs - 7 Tough game but probably the pick of our back 4.
  • Livermore - 6 Not the greatest but still had legs when he was subbed.
  • Barry - 6 No problem on the ball or positioning but lacked legs. Big ask to play him in a 3 and he looked leggy as the game went on.
  • Phillips- 7 Frustrating. Our best player in spells but went missing for long periods before driving us on again. Needs to work harder in the centre or go back to the wing.
  • Gayle - 7 Great finish and good energy but slightly wasted out wide.
  • JRod - 6 Apart from the goal I thought he was largely anonymous. Wanted him to really press them and lead from the front.
  • Barnes - 7 Very similar to Phillips. Bursts into life but then disappears and needs to work harder but brilliant work and pass for the goal.
  • Brunt - 6 Playing him & Barry in the centre together surrendered every 2nd ball, but fine when we had it.
  • Burke - Not long enough to Mark but his pace immediately had them running backwards. Desperately needs game time to save his career.

Didcot Baggie:

Pity we had to grab a point with a dodgy goal - on reflection that doesn't really cheer the mood after a disappointing week. A draw against a poor Brentford side in a game which we should have won by a country mile and then a disappointing performance against our local rivals.

Amazed by the decision to go with Barry. He plays as if he is wearing lead-weighted deep sea diving boots rather than football boots. I totally get that his tactical brain is strong, but he will be overpowered by any dynamic midfield.

Seems that we are still at least 3 players short of being genuine contenders. Not convinced by Johnstone or Adarabioyo and need another Jimmy Morrison but 10 years younger to tear through central midfield. At least with Phillips, Barnes and Gayle we have players to scare Championship defenders. Just need another target up front. Not convinced that JRod or HRK fit the bill.