The spoils are shared in the battle of the
THE richest game in Championship history produced a finish even money couldn’t guarantee. It was one of the bargain buys who kept Aston Villa boss Roberto Di Matteo out of the fans’ firing line.
With £123.5m-worth of talent in the starting line-ups alone, it wasn’t just the history of the clubs that gave this game a Premier League feel.
Two Champions League winning managers met in the Championship, but a player Villa signed for less than £5m from Reading turned the tide. Aaron Tshibola eased any pressure on his boss, despite just one win in the first two months of the season stunting progress.
His late far-post header prevented what could have been a costly defeat. It’s been a painfully slow start by Villa, but the courage shown in the second half was enough to give Di Matteo belief the corner is being turned.
Di Matteo said: “The second half was very good. We really put them under pressure in that last half an hour – we created good opportunities.
“We were much more positive with the ball and we showed we can turn the game around.
“Our challenge is to turn the draws into wins now. We’re getting closer, we’ve been close a few times!”
The boss also confirmed Jack Grealish, caught up in another all-night party scandal this week, will be available for selection against Barnsley on Tuesday.
Newcastle knew what they were getting when they wrote a £11m cheque for Matt Ritchie. His energy inside the box, pouncing on an error midway through the first half, could have broke the deadlock. Mo Diame on the follow up really should have.
Then they did. Isaac Hayden threaded a fabulous ball through to DeAndre Yedlin, the cross was precise, and Tommy Elphick with Dwight Gayle for company got it horribly wrong. The Villa skipper helped the Toon on their way.
GOAL MEN: Aston Villa's Aaron Tshibola scores their equaliser and, inset, Newcastle's Dwight Gayle celebrates after Tommy Elphick scores an own goal