Aaron Tshibola’a 88th minute equalizer secured Aston Villa with a crucial home point. Below, we rate player performances with match grades.
In what could have been a disastrous game for Villa, turned out to be a real confidence booster for Roberto Di Matteo’s men. Four successive draws bolster the club’s position up to 17th–only seven points from a top-six position.
Aston Villa weathered an early Newcastle onslaught only to be outdone by one of their own. DeAndre Yedlin’s sizzling right hand cross was turned in by captain Tommy Elphick.
Changes at halftime proved ineffectual as well. For the first twenty minutes of the second half, Aston Villa could not possess the ball out of their own half. Only the introduction of Rudy Gestede in the 63rd minute allowed any type of hold up play in the final third.
After a stunning Jordan Ayew shot that hit the post, Newcastle staved off corner after corner until goalkeeper Matz Sels flailed on one that Aaron Tshibola glanced in the net. Newcastle held on for one point after six minutes of stoppage time.
GK-Pierluigi Gollini 6
Could do nothing about Elphick finishing into his own net with the bravado of Lionel Messi. Made four very athletic saves while only conceding one goal from eighteen(!) Newcastle shots. Don’t look now, but Gollini and company have only conceded nine goals in nine league matches.
RWB-Albert Adomah 4
Ineffective and substituted at the 63rd. Bizarre that he would be forced to play out wide while Leandro Bacuna stays in central midfield. Brought off for Aaron Tshibola that converted the squad back to a four-man back line. A 3-5-2 could work for the club, but not with Adomah on wing back duties.
RCB-James Chester 6
Solid workman-like duty from James Chester. Calm in possession and threatened some from set pieces. Picked up a booking.
CB-Tommy Elphick 4.5
A tale of two halves from the club captain. Absolutely horrid first half in which he scored on his own net. Very lucky to not have been substituted at half, but rebounded after the break.
LCB-Nathan Baker 5
Booked shortly after James Chester and substituted at halftime. Made a brilliant diving tackle to deny a Newcastle goal, but proved largely ineffective in stifling the opponent’s attack. Baker is still very much a solid third choice center back when healthy.
Torrid first forty-five from the Aussie. A bit anonymous on the pitch at times, but that’s the role he plays shielding the back line. He’s a very important player for Aston Villa.
CM-Ashley Westwood 5
Neat and tidy on the ball–completed a high percentage of his passes. Didn’t do anything of note in the offensive third, no incisiveness in his passing. <— I could copy and paste this response to every Ashley Westwood match performance.
CM-Leandro Bacuna 5
Anonymous in central midfield. Should never ever be playing there again, not sure what previous Villa managers see from him in that position. Took Adomah’s RB spot in the second half and improved a bit.
ST-Jordan Ayew 6.5
Very solid match from Jordan Ayew. Nearly scored an otherworldly goal after cutting through multiple Newcastle defenders–only to be denied by the woodwork. Ran hard and really aided Villa possession by carrying the ball through the middle third.
ST-Jonathan Kodjia 6
Did a bit of everything for the attack. Drifted wide right too often for my liking. Still a very talented player who can nab twenty-plus league goals this season.
CM-Aaron Tshibola 7
Our ClaretVillans Man of the Match goes to Aaron Tshibola. Not only did he score his first Aston Villa goal by heading in a corner to equalize; but, he proved a thorn in Newcastle’s side by his demonstration to carry the ball in the middle of the pitch. By aiding in possession he allowed his teammates to catch their breath and attack. He should be fit enough to start Tuesday’s Barnsley match.
ST-Rudy Gestede 6
Changed the dynamic of the game with his presence. With two lumbering giants in Gestede and Kodjia, Villa forced more uncomfortable situations for the Newcastle defenders. In all, Villa forced eight corner kicks in the match. Gestede should be the ultimate weapon off the bench for the club moving forward.
ST-Rushian Hepburn-Murphy N/A
Came on for Ashley Westwood late in the match. Really lively with multiple touches inside the eighteen yard box. Any regular readers of the site know that I’m very high on Rushian. I believe he could be on the substitutes’ bench week in and week out for the club. Not bad for an eighteen year old professional.