Brighton 0-2 Aston Villa: Matty Cash on the money and Ollie Watkins ends goal drought as Steven Gerrard’s side return to winning ways after delayed kick-off at the Amex Stadium
- Aston Villa bounced back from two consecutive defeats with a win over Brighton
- Full-back Matty Cash broke the deadlock with a half volley on the edge of the box
- The Polish international unveiled a message for his compatriot Tomasz Kedziora
- Striker Ollie Watkins doubled the lead for Steven Gerrard’s side after half-time
John Brooks was following the rules, sure, but sometimes you wish referees could read the room and show just a crumb of common sense.
Matty Cash scored for Aston Villa then revealed an undershirt with a message: ‘Tomasz Kędziora and family. Stay strong my bro.’
Kędziora is Cash’s team-mate for Poland, currently playing his football with Dynamo Kyiv. It was a message to a friend in a perilous situation in the Ukrainian capital. A nice moment.
Matty Cash broke the deadlock after 17 minutes as he smashed home from the edge of the box
And yet, Cash was booked for the heinous crime of removing his shirt and dedicating his strike to Kędziora.
Brooks will get a tick from PGMOL boss Mike Riley for following the letter of the law, I’m sure, but few would have minded had he given the Villa right back a pass.
Worth remembering, too, that world governing body FIFA previously told its associations that the application of the laws is ‘left for the competitions’ organisers, which should use common sense and have in consideration the context surrounding the events’.
That was after Jadon Sancho, then of Borussia Dortmund, was booked for revealing a ‘Justice for George Floyd’ undershirt in a Bundesliga game in May 2020.
The PGMOL may want to rethink their position in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Cash was one of nine cards shown in this game, with Brooks clearly a fan of the colour yellow. It was a competitive clash and Villa emerged victorious with Ollie Watkins completing the scoreline in the second half after a Tyrone Mings long ball caught out the Brighton back line.
Gerrard’s Villa tenure started with a 2-0 win over Graham Potter’s side back on November 20. Watkins and Mings scored in the final six minutes to make it a memorable first match for the former midfielder turned manager.
Cash celebrated his goal by unveiling a message for his Poland team-mate Tomasz Kedziora
The honeymoon was short-lived, however. Since then, wins had been hard to come by. Here was a side they knew they could beat, at least, and they scored with their first shot.
A sweet strike it was, too. Lucas Digne crossed the ball and Brighton cleared, but only to Cash. He chested it down then struck a sublime shot that went in off the post, beating Robert Sanchez.
Brighton could have equalised after the restart when Maupay set up Alexis Mac Allister. With all of the goal to hit, he struck the crossbar and it flew into the away end.
There were cheeky challenges flying in, with the referee not in control of the game. Brooks, new to the Premier League’s list of referees, needed to calm down the players.
Ollie Watkins secured the victory for Villa with a calm finish midway through the second half
When Watkins caught Marc Cucurella in the face, Brighton were furious. The rookie ref showed him a yellow, and also gave one to Mings after he sprinted the length of the pitch to mock Cucurella for rolling around.
At the start of the second half, Villa would have made it 2-0 were it not for Sanchez’s right hand. Phillipe Coutinho’s free kick was struck sweetly and heading into the bottom corner, until the Brighton goalkeeper got there at the final moment.
Next, Cash flashed a shot across goal that narrowly missed nestling into the far corner.
Brooks still didn’t have control of proceedings as Joel Veltman became the eighth player to be booked for a naughty challenge on Coutinho on the hour mark.
Watkins’s joy was clear for everyone to see as he ended his six-game drought in front of goal
In the 68th minute, a ball lumped long by Mings caught the Brighton defence sleeping. It flew over Veltman’s head and sent Watkins through as he beat Sanchez to make it 2-0.
Yellow card No 9 came along when Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez took part in some time-wasting as the visitors closed in on their first win since January.
Brighton’s fans left frustrated. They’ve now not scored for three successive games. But for Villa, it’s victory again.