DAYS after being praised for his performances, Zimbabwe international midfielder, Marvelous Nakamba, was the target of some harsh criticism after Aston Villa breezed to a 3-0 victory of Championship side Bristol City in a friendly.
It was youngster Jaden Philogene-Bidace who got things started as he ghosted in from the right to finish well from Ollie Watkins’ delivery after just six minutes.
Villa, who also contested a friendly with the rest of their squad against League One Crewe at Bodymoor, went two-nil to the good just before half-time as Ezri Konsa pounced on Dan Bentley’s error in the Bristol goal following John McGinn’s floated free-kick. It was Ashley Young who came close prior to Villa’s second as his free-kick from 20-plus yards out cracked off the top of the crossbar.
Villa put themselves further ahead on the hour mark as Anwar El Ghazi found Watkins with a pinpoint cross with his weaker left foot as the Villa striker made no mistake with a bullet header from inside the six-yard box.
With 10 minutes left, manager Dean Smith chucked on FA Youth Cup winners Brad Young and Hayden Lindley who replaced Watkins and stand-in captain John McGinn. Here’s how Ashley Preece rated the Villa players as the away fans chanted their admiration for Jack Grealish throughout this one with his future to be decided in the coming days.
Jed Steer. — produced a really good kick as he looked to spring Ollie Watkins free upfield while, in and around his six-yard box, Steer claimed high balls with confidence. Steer was also sharp to get down low to Bristol’s pot-shots from distance. Was brave to block Scott’s effort as well just after the break.
7 Matty Cash. — kept to his defensive task this afternoon as he looked to reassure Philogene-Bidace ahead of him. Cash is always comfortable on the ball and strong when needed to be.
6 Ezri Konsa. — a really assured performance from the centre-back who will be huge once again for Villa this season. Konsa’s such a cool cookie in possession. He did the ugly stuff well as well as he blocked Palmer’s powerful effort. Konsa grabbed a goal for himself as well, taking full advantage of Bentley’s error before half-time.
Kortney Hause. — the big man won every header as he bossed Chris Martin, Callum O’Dowda and others who jostled with him. Hause got caught on the odd occasion in the second half but, overall, he was fine back there.
7 Ashley Young. — the 36-year-old was in from the start yet again here as Matt Targett contested against Crewe back at Bodymoor. Young worked well down the left and always looked to overlap. The full-back also rattled the crossbar from a free-kick.
7 John McGinn. — in a deep position once again here as he lined up alongside Marvelous Nakamba with Aaron Ramsey further ahead. McGinn, as ever, did the dirty work well while he’ll no doubt claim that assist after his free-kick was fumbled by Bentley for Konsa’s goal.
6 Marvelous Nakamba. — probably his worst display of what’s been a good pre-season for him. Nakamba’s passing was off from the start here but he worked tirelessly and covered some serious ground.
6 Aaron Ramsey. — the 18-year-old, in a No.10 role, looked nervous here and lacked conviction in his play. ‘AJ’ is so well-regarded at Villa, hence his successive start here with the seniors after Stoke last week. Ramsey didn’t get on the ball enough, sadly.
6 Jaden Philogene-Bidace. — the winger caused problems for Bristol from the get-go and looked to express himself. The 19-year-old ghosted into the box to finish well from Watkins’ ball in for the opener while, as well as the tricks and flicks, Philogene-Bidace showcased the graft as he tracked back to block crosses which would have pleased Smith. His feet are lightning-quick while he almost scored his second late on but for Baker’s intervention. That’s two goals in three friendlies now for the teenager.
8* Ollie Watkins. — ran tirelessly for the team here as he contested both Nathan Baker and Rob Atkinson. Watkins will be pleased with his shift here as he crossed beautifully for Philogene-Bidace for the opener before getting inside the six-yard box to head home Villa’s third. Watkins got annoyed at his teammates on occasion as his runs would often go unnoticed.
7 Anwar El Ghazi. — the Dutchman crossed well for Watkins’ header after racing through to meet the ball. El Ghazi was weak in the challenge on occasion as Kevin Friend kept telling him to get on with it. El Ghazi did well, though, to find Philogene-Bidace who went close to a fourth with 20 to go. – Birmingham Live