Matty Cash sent a message of support to a Poland teammate stranded in Ukraine after scoring the opening goal in Aston Villa’s 2-0 win at Brighton. The Villa full-back broke the deadlock with a fine early finish before taking off his shirt to reveal a “stay strong” message to Dynamo Kyiv defender, Tomasz Kedziora, receiving a caution in the process.
Ollie Watkins then scored his first goal since December in the 68th minute to wrap up Villa’s victory. Both sides went into this contest languishing well down the Premier League form table but it was the visitors who improved on a record of one win in their last seven games heading to the south coast.
Kick-off was delayed by 30 minutes due to issues on the roads in and around Brighton which saw the Villa coach arriving late but it was Brighton who struggled to get out of second gear. Only the current bottom three, as well as Leeds, have taken fewer home points this season and Graham Potter will be feeling under some pressure.
Cash did well in the early stages as he hooked clear a Jakub Moder ball into a dangerous area but it was at the other end of the pitch where he made a more telling impact. After a lengthy message posted on social media earlier in the day defending Poland’s decision not to play against Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, he arrowed a fine, low finish in off the post from 20 yards. Cash then revealed a message to Poland teammate Kedziora and his family.
Alexis Mac Allister clipped the crossbar but aside from that Brighton rarely threatened an equaliser, while Jacob Ramsey bundled his way into the Brighton box but saw his shot blocked. With the game becoming more fractious, the referee John Brooks started flashing his yellow card with six bookings before the interval.
After the break, the influence of Villa playmaker Philippe Coutinho grew and the Barcelona loanee forced a fantastic save out of Robert Sánchez with a low free-kick. Cash then flashed another wicked shot wide of the post with the hosts still struggling to truly test Emiliano Martínez in the Villa goal.
The points were secured as Watkins doubled the advantage, latching on to a long ball out of defence by Villa captain Tyrone Mings and holding off the challenge of Joël Veltman to finish well. Danny Welbeck came off the Brighton bench and sent a header wide when well-placed but the hosts remain without a home win since Boxing Day.
Steven Gerrard’s Villa tenure began with a 2-0 home win over Brighton on November 20 but recent results left the former England skipper wanting a victory here to be a “medicine” for his side – and their league position looks healthier following these three points.