Sears strikes with a cracker but Town go down at Villa Park
Freddie Sears scored a sensational sixth goal of the season but Town went down to two Tammy Abraham strikes.
Sears found the net from 25 yards to set up an edgy finish for the home side who had scored early on through the influential Abraham.
The Chelsea loanee doubled the advantage on the hour from a controversial penalty, Colin Quaner was denied a goal and a possible penalty with a clearance off the line before Sears put Blues back in the game.
Trevoh Chalobah hit the post with a header but Town couldn’t find that vital second goal.
Town made three changes to the side that went down at Blackburn last week, Bart Bialkowski returning in goal, with Myles Kenlock and Flynn Downes coming in.
James Collins, up against his former club, held firm as Abraham tried to get in, Anwar El Ghazi seeing a shot blocked on the edge of the box, Conor Hourihane then firing over as Villa began in positive fashion.
It was former Blue Hourihane who provided the delivery for the breakthrough on five minutes, his wicked free-kick met by Abraham’s close range volley.
Town responded, Keane robbed Neil Taylor and Alan Judge had an opening on the edge of the box but his shot lacked the power to trouble Lovre Kalinic.
Judge was finding space in support of Keane, the Republic of Ireland international seeing a shot blocked, then having too much on a pass to release the Hull loanee.
Kalinic was relieved to see his clearance by-pass Keane, Bialkowski doing enough from Hourihane’s dangerous free-kick to avert danger but Town were growing into the game and Collins’ header from Judge’s corner had to be cleared at full stretch by Hourihane.
Collins did his defensive duties to head away as Abraham waited to pounce, John McGinn forcing Bialkowski into a save and although Albert Adomah lashed the rebound into the net, the offside flag was raised.
Bialkowski had a more comfortable save to deny McGinn as Villa threatened a second, the Poland international keeping out Hourihane’s drive then holding out from Abraham’s left footer as the home side turned up the heat on the Town goal.
Town countered after another Villa attack and Chalobah saw his shot blocked after Sears had teed him up, Collins smashing the ball to safety at the other end after McGinn’s shot had cannoned back off Bialkowski.
Chalobah tested Kalinic with a 20 yard right footer, Adomah’s cross cleared as the first-half cane to an end with Bialkowski the busier ‘keeper but Blues still very much in the game.
Chalobah blocked Glenn Whelan shot on the edge of the box, the impressive Abraham testing Bialkowski with a header as the second-half got underway with Villa pushing on.
McGinn diverted Alan Hutton’s ball just over, Collins in the right place again to clear from Adomah before Villa were presented with a penalty on the hour, Abraham scoring from the spot after Judge was judged to have pushed McGinn.
Quaner replaced Keane in Town’s first change, Abraham seeing a chip deflected on to the roof of the net,
Ahmed Elmohamady replaced Adomah in a first change for Villa, Qauner threatening a lifeline for Blues with a drive into the box, James Chester seeing out the danger.
Town had a gilt edged chance for that lifeline on 73 minutes, Flynn Downes set Quaner clear, he rounded the ‘keeper but his shot hit a Villa defender on the line. Blues screamed for a penalty but referee Keith Stroud waved away the appeals.
That lifeline eventually came two minutes later and in great style, Sears finding the roof of the net with a terrific strike from 25 yards.
Jonathan Kodja replaced Whelan but the Villa fans were growing in frustration and Town were inches away from an equaliser when Chalobah’s header from Judge’s free-kick hit the post.
Abraham had the chance to seal the three points when clear on goal but Bialkowski got down to make the save, the Town ‘keeper then producing a superb block to deny the Villa dangerman two minutes from time as the midlanders held on for the win.
Aston Villa: Kalinic, Taylor, Chester, Whelan (Kodja 77), McGinn, Hourihane, Abraham, Hutton, El Ghazi (Jedinak 84), Elphick, Adomah (Elmohamady 67). Subs not used: Steer, Davis, Hause, O’Hare. Booked: El Ghazi, Kalinic, Hourihane.
Town: Bialkowski, Pennington, Chambers, Collins, Kenlock, Chalobah (Jackson 90), Skuse, Downes, Judge, Sears, Keane (Quaner 61). Subs not used: Gerken, Nolan, Bishop, Nsiala, Elder. Booked: Kenlock.