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FT

EFL Championship

Riverside Stadium

Ref: Andy Davies

Matchday

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Goals from James Chester, Tammy Abraham and Glenn Whelan saw Boro fall to our second defeat on home turf this season. 

There were four changes to the Boro side from that which started the game at Preston on Tuesday.

Daniel Ayala, George Saville and Lewis Wing dropped to the bench, Rudy Gestede (injured) missed out. Back came Stewart Downing and Mo Besic who missed out at Deepdale, while our scorer that night, Marcus Tavernier, started today as did Jonny Howson who came off the bench on Tuesday.

Alan Hutton picked up his fifth yellow card of the season during the astonishing 5-5 draw with Forest at Villa Park on Wednesday night. He was one of two changes from that game, Jonathan Kodjia the other as he dropped to the bench. In came Anwar El Ghazi and Ahmed Elmohamady.

Tammy Abraham scored four in that game and he was the first with a shot on target in this one, only a fabulous save from Darren Randolph away to his left prevented a low drive from finding its target.

Villa had the best of the early exchanges, with Boro just occasional visitors into dangerous areas and eventually pressure told.

With 20 minutes played Randolph didn’t get the punch he wanted when trying to impose himself in a crowded box and the ball dropped invitingly for Chester to prod home.

There was a positive response, though Boro found it far from easy to find a way through and when Downing volleyed for goal as Villa failed to clear a George Friend cross, it hit Jordan Hugill.

As ever, there was plenty of effort, but the cutting edge needed to get through a determined Villa outfit was often blunted.

There was a half chance for Hugill at the start of the second half, the ball just wouldn’t run for him, and that signalled an encouraging passage where Villa were boxed in their own half.

Though, as if to serve as a reminder of their quality, Villa broke free and Bolasie fizzed a low shot through a crowded box.

Just as Tony Pulis was preparing to make three changes, with Britt Assombalonga, Martin Braithwaite and George Saville stripped for action, Dael Fry and Bolasie collided and Fry groggily walked off to be replaced by Paddy McNair.

What began life as a triple change eventually turned into a double one four minutes later when Tavernier and Besic were replaced by Braithwaite and Assombalonga.

Boro barely had time to reshape before they found themselves two down as Bolasie drilled a low cross (possibly shot) into the six-yard box and Villa’s man of the moment Abraham slid in to tuck home.

Braithwaite despatched a shot at Ørjan Nyland as Boro set about reducing the arrears, but it was the crossbar that prevented that happening when Hugill turned and shot.

Villa wrapped the game up with seven minutes of normal time remaining, when Whelan, on for John McGinn, rippled in a low shot with his first touch. The shot, from 20-yards, squirmed like a bar of soap out of Randolph’s grasp and nestled in the bottom corner.

Scorers Chester 20, Abraham 64, Whelan 83

Boro Randolph, Fry (McNair 58), Flint, Batth, Friend (Capt.), Tavernier (Braithwaite 62), Clayton, Howson, Besic (Assombalonga 62), Downing, Hugill. Subs: Dimi (gk), Ayala, Saville, Wing. Order of subs on 62: 1) Braithwaite; 2) Assombalonga

Villa Nyland, Naylor, Tuanzebe, Chester (Capt.), Elmohamady, McGinn (Whelan 81), Grealish, Hourihane, El Ghazi, Bolasie (Kodjia 73), Abraham (Hogan 82). Subs: Bunn (gk), Revan, Jedinak, O’Hare.

Referee Andy Davies. Hampshire.
Yellow cards
Boro Friend 70, foul
Villa None

Attendance 23,424 (1,891 Villa)

Conditions Mild