Aston Villa were hoping to turn our poor form around and keep our promotion hopes alive as we travelled to the Bet365 Stadium to face Stoke City earlier today.
With a massive gap already to the Play-Off spots, today was a must win game and in taking only a point as our tendency to pick up draws continues, well, the Play-Offs are a step too far now surely.
Stoke opened the scoring five minutes in but Albert Adomah had us level just after the hour mark. Despite a far stronger finish to the game once we actually seemed to play with a little bit of confidence, we couldn’t find that second and the best we mustered, Jack Butland dealt with.
With the Play-Offs now over, no doubt some will throw the baby out with the dishwater, but it should take the immediate pressure off and let Smith work without uber expectations that were always out of whack given the summer we had and the mess we were in.
Like it or lump it, that’s where we are and I’m sure Smith knows that if after the summer there isn’t a significant improvement (and we see performances more akin to those when he immediately arrived) he’ll have lost his chance as our boss.
Speaking to the BBC following the fulltime whistle, head coach Dean Smith explained.
“I wasn’t happy at half time, I got into the players a little bit, but that was nothing to do with the shape, system or style of play, more down to our body language when we gave balls away. Both teams were very sloppy in the first half, gave balls away very cheaply, and I felt we all looked at each other as if it wasn’t our mistake and we were playing alright. Second half it was a much better display, I thought we were dominant, created the goal and probably should have scored more and won the game.”