NOTTINGHAM FOREST 1 ASTON VILLA 3
REPORT: By Graham Hill
IN among all the of mania surrounding Jack Grealish’s comeback from injury, there was the fear that Villa might become a one-man team.
What if Grealish has an off day? How will that affect the rest of the team?
We need not have worried.
Because if Wednesday’s victory at the City Ground anything, it is that Villa have more to offer than Grealish.
Sure, his influence is there for all to see and has been a major factor over the past 10 days. At the age of 23, he is proving to be ideal captain material.
Who knew? Not even Grealish it seems. But boss Dean Smith recognised that his key man is the glue that is bringing Villa back together again in time for a play-off push.
And if the opposition are focusing on Grealish then it leaves John McGinn with the opportunity to show why he was such a sought after player last summer.
There was once a question mark over whether Grealish and McGinn could play in the same Villa side.
Well, the good news is that they can. The pair are good pals off the field and this time it was McGinn’s turn to shine.
He could consider himself unlucky not to have played from the start against Blues after a two match suspension, but once he came on at St Andrew’s, Smith knew he could not leave him out again.
And it proved to be a good switch. Smith now has players fighting to be a part of Villa’s midfield and that is driving them on towards a possible top six place.
Villa went behind to an early Jack Colback, but then McGinn took charge.
He scored twice in the space of eight minutes to put Villa in control.
And his second was an exquisitely taken goal from 25 yards.
Forest had a Yohan Benalouane goal ruled out for offside before Kortney Hause grabbed his first goal for Villa after arriving on loan from Wolves.
You can see why Smith is in no mood to get fans talking about the play-offs just yet, even though they are just two points behind with nine games left.
One slip up and Villa can easily be drawn back into that mid-table group of teams with fading hopes of a top six place.
But Middlesbrough’s defeat last night does open up the possibility that there are still two play-off places up for grabs. Villa face Boro on Saturday of course.
And after three wins in a row, why shouldn’t Smith’s side be one of those sides that gatecrashes the top six right at the business end of the season?