10 man Town beaten but Blue Army magnificent
The Blue Army - backed by pop icon Ed Sheeran - showed fantastic support in one of the biggest attendances of the season at Portman Road.
The Town faithful stayed right behind Bryan Klug’s side until the final whistle as Town played the second-half with only 10 men following a red card to Grant Ward.
The midfielder caught Neil Taylor with challenge just before the break that referee Simon Hooper felt was worthy of a sending-off, leaving Blues with a mountain to climb.
Town were already behind at the time, former Blues midfielder Conor Hourihane forcing the ball home from close range midway through the half.
Lewis Grabban extended Villa’s lead early in the second-half to virtually seal the points and then made it absolutely certain with a second 13 minutes from time.
Henri Lansbury made it four with a flashing header soon after Villa maintained their promotion credentials.
Town made one change from the side that went down to Forest last week, with Ben Morris dropping out and Bersant Celina up front alongside Martyn Waghorn.
Myles Kenlock had a gilt edged chance to give Blues the perfect start after a cross from the right fell to him 10 yards out but he scuffed his shot wide.
Jack Grealish responded for Villa with a shot that was blocked on the edge of the box, the midfielder the drawing a foul from Luke Hyam 30 yards out that Hourihane put too near Bartosz Bialkwoski.
Ward, operating at wing-back again, crossed from the right that Sam Johnstone dealt with at the second attempt, then the Villa ‘keeper didn’t get enough on another delivery and Jonas Knudsen had a shot blocked.
Hourihane had an effort deflected wide, then Cole Skuse got in the way of another Hourihane piledriver to take the ball away from danger as Villa enjoyed a spell of possession around the Town box.
The Irishman eventually put Villa ahead on 25 minutes, Grabban’s shot deflected off Skuse and bounced back off the post but Hourihane was there to jab the ball home.
Town looked for an immediate response as Waghorn released Ward inside the box but his cross was cleared by Mile Jedinak, Cameron Carter-Vickers staying strong to shut down the threat from Grabban, then Ward was wayward with his cross after getting behind the Villa defence.
Hourihane was a yard wide with a free-kick from 25 yards but just before the break Ward caught Taylor with a tackle that saw brought a red card.
Birkir Bjarnason fired wide as Villa got the second-half underway on the front foot, then at the other end Tristan Nydam forced his way into the visitors’ box but couldn’t find Waghorn.
Bialkowski got down well to deny Josh Onomah before Town made a first change with Freddie Sears on for Celina. Seconds later Villa doubled their advantage with Grabban sliding the ball into the far corner from the angle of the six yard box.
Waghorn tested Johnstone with a right footer from 30 yards, Knudsen twice in quick succession doing well to stop Villa carving out a third goal, Bialkowski in the right place to hold on from Hourihane’s driven effort.
Bjarnason found the sidenetting before Callum Connolly replaced Nydam and Lansbury did the same for Hourihane as both managers shuffled their packs.
Ben Folami entered the fray soon after, Hyam making way but Villa put the result beyond any doubt on 77 minutes when Grabban grabbed his second with a precise finish.
Lansbury added the fourth nine minutes from time but the Town fans never wavered in their support until the final whistle.
Town: Bialkowski, Ward, Spence, Carter-Vickers, Knudsen, Kenlock, Hyam (Folami 75), Nydam (Connolly 73), Skuse, Waghorn, Celina (Sears 56) Subs not used: Crowe, Gleeson, Carayol, Smith.
Aston Villa: Johnstone, Taylor (Hogan 64), Chester, Whelan, Grealish, Hourihane (Lansbury 73), Jedinak, Onomah, Bjarnason, Elmohamady, Grabban (Adomah 81). Subs not used: Bunn, Samba, Snodgrass, Bree.