Smith admits Villa fortunate to take draw against Stoke



Posted Sunday, December 16, 2018 by PA

Smith admits Villa fortunate to take draw against Stoke

Dean Smith was honest enough to admit that Aston Villa were somewhat fortunate to earn a point in a hard fought 2-2 home draw against a revitalised Stoke side.

In the end Villa was indebted to the performance of substitute Jonathan Kodjia for salvaging a point which enabled them to extend their unbeaten run to seven games.

What pleased Smith was the fact Villa had to twice come from behind to earn a point.

They were caught cold with Joe Allen’s 47th minute goal but equalised with Tammy Abraham’s 72nd minute penalty only for Benik Afobe to regain the lead for Stoke five minues later with another spot kick.

But Kodjia responded in fine style to notch a face-saving equaliser six minutes from time to put forward a strong claim to return to the starting line-up.

The Villa boss admitted: “Kodjia can feel disappointed he has not played since the Nottingham Forest game. I decided to rest him but he took his chance against Stoke by winning a penalty and then notching his header for the equaliser.

“We badly needed something to happen and that is why he was sent on because they had the lead.

“Although we had a lot of possession in the second half we were finding it difficult to create anything clear cut.

“They became a threat on the counter attack with the pace of Allen and (James) McClean and that is why we decided to take off (Anwar) El Ghazi and send on Kodjia who did a great job.”

But Smith was honest to admit: “Our standard against Stoke was not where they have been in recent weeks because of the conditions. It was a scrappy game due to the adverse weather.

“It was a case of two teams cancelling out each other. There are not many teams that come and open us up on a regular basis.

“But we have been light on numbers but hopefully next week I will given more food for thought.

“When you have so many quality players out of action it is going to hurt any team.

“We didn’t create the chances we have been doing recently but I have players who can score goals. One thing we must make sure that we do not give away chances like the sloppy defending for the penalty.”

Stoke manager Gary Rowett was under the weather and claimed he could not speak. It was left to

his assistant, Callum Davidson, to comment on Stoke’s performance.

The Scot claimed: “We are disappointed we did not take three points as we played well enough to have won.

“But to come to Villa Park against a team in form and scoring lots of goals we managed to contain them and limit their chances.

“It is obviously important to continue our run. Christmas is going to be very important and a point away to a Villa team playing really well we have to be happy.

“We need to remain positive. We are now unbeaten in nine games and are also nine games unbeaten away from home. So we are moving in the right direction.

“The players put in a tremendous shift as they have done of late. We had to get some energy into the team as we were aware that we could catch them on the break.”

Davidson was full of praise for Joe Allen’s display.

“His performances over the last 10 to 12 games have been brilliant,” said Davidson.

“He is stepping up his game but what he needs to add is more goals. He is a fantastic player and it is great to see him perform because he works extremely hard.

“He is also getting used to playing in the Championship because it is different to the Premier League. He is adapting to the style of play and it was good to see him score the opening goal.”

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