Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Aston Villa 1
The Seagulls dropped points from a winning position for the sixth time this season and now face two huge encounters in Bournemouth and Watford.
Albion looked laboured and toothless upfront, with Neal Maupay and Aaron Connolly simply too small to trouble Villa’s giant Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa.
Dale Stephens and Davy Propper were working hard and playing well in midfield, Propper in particular impressing as he tracked back and dispossessed Jack Grealish.
Good work from the fit-again Aaron Mooy saw chances fall to Connolly and then Maupay in quick succession but Villa cleared their lines. Villa’s debutant keeper Pepe Reina lookd nervy at first.
Bernado playing as full back found himself in spade on the edge of the Villa area , but the his was punched away unconvincingly by Reina.
Soon after Matt Targett pushed the ball through to Grealish and although Lewis Dunk appeared to have the move covered Grealish wriggled free and forced Matt Ryan into a routine save.
As Albion cleared so Maupay latch onto a loose ball , he found Leando Trossard who was in a wide position, but cleverly hit a shot across Reina to put Albion into the lead.
In the remaining minutes of the half Anwar El Ghazi spun round Lewis Dunk forcing the Albion captain to concede a yellow card.
Albion just couldn’t create the chances to double their lead as the second half wore on.
Trezuguet had a chance that Ryan had to punch clear and Grealish was still causing problems for Albion.
Albion worked into advance positions but frustratingly these hardly ever ended with a shot a goal.
Danny Drinkwater who had not had the best of matches fired a shot horribly high and wide and immediately looked at his studs.
He was replaced by Douglas Luiz his first involvement was to spray a pass out to Grealish who the ball past Webster and Dunk and powered a shot past Ryan for 1-1.
Albion had the most notable chances to win it, Maupay expertly caught a volley which brilliantly turned around the post.
Right at the end it all got a bit nasty as Villa substitute Conor Hourihane tackled Davy Propper head high Maupay wasn’t happy and there was a brief multi player scuffle.
Maupay had the final chance from the resulting free kick but couldn’t connect from close range.
As the players walked off Maupay and Konsa got into another scuffle – this time broken up by Dunk and Villa no 2 John Terry.
This was a game Albion should have won, one they needed to win.
The relagation trap door has now been unlocked and the Seagulls need a different type of forward to work with Maupay. It’s time for Connolly to go back to the U23’s to get his form and confidence back.
It’s time to open the cheque book or perhaps now adays make a CHAPS payment for a striker who can stick the ball away when the chance presents itself
But Tony Bloom has not got to spend pounds maybe just save a Florin! Andone is getting near full fitness and well you know what they say about beggars!
Next up for Albion another vital six pointer at Bournemouth on Tuesday 21st January.