Aston Villa 1 Barnsley 3: Reds spoil Hourihane reunion with great win at Villa Park

Two-goal Tom Bradshaw.   Picture Bruce Rollinson
Two-goal Tom Bradshaw. Picture Bruce Rollinson

Super Barnsley got one over former favourite Conor Hourihane as the ex-Oakwell skipper’s new team Aston Villa were beaten in style at Villa Park.

Tom Bradshaw bagged a clinical brace as the in-form Reds were worthy victors, heaping even more pressure on Villa boss Steve Bruce.

Hourihane, signed by Villa for huge money in January, scarcely impressed as his former side went on to be booed off the park at the final whistle.

In fact, it was claimed last night that Villa have spent more in the transfer market this season than the Reds have spent in their entire 130-year history.

Yet Paul Heckingbottom’s confidence-filled Reds’ push for the Championship play-offs remains on track.

It was a cagey opening spell, with the Reds backed by a terrific travelling support totalling almost 2,000.

The Villa fans were almost celebrating first, however, when Jack Grealish fired in an effort that was bravely blocked by the recalled Callum Elder.

Steve Bruce’s stuttering side made most of the early running, and Reds’ ‘keeper Adam Davies was called into action for the first time when hedived down low to keep out a well-struck shot from Villa’s big-money January signing Henri Lansbury.

Davies was soon called into action again to turn Albert Adomah’s effort wide for a corner-kick that came to nothing.

The Reds soon had Davies to thank again as he stood up well to repel another decent strike from Lansbury.

And it was against the run of play when Barnsley stunned the home faithful with the opener after 25 minutes.

It came via a hotly-contested penalty, with referee Mr Eltringham seemingly having no doubt when he saw Jordan Amavi take own Marley Watkins in the box.

Up stepped Adam Armstrong to fire the Reds in from the spot.

Former Reds star Hourihane headed straight at Davies as Villa pushed for a leveller, but at the other end, Ryan Kent was thwarted by an equally impressive stop from Sam Johnstone.

A frantic end to the opening half followed. The Reds went two clear when boyhood Villa fan Bradshaw converted Andy Yiadom’s cross, but within a minute the hosts’ deficit was halved when Jonathan Kodjia tapped home Adomah’s cross.

In an end-to-end start to the second half Armstrong came close to making it 3- 1 though Villa soon responded when Kodjia was a whisker away from making it 2-2.

But the hosts were punished as the Reds restored their two-goal advantage in the 58th minute as Bradshaw who struck again for the visitors, lashing home clinically into the bottom corner after being teed up expertly by defender Marc Roberts.

Villa tried even more desperately to push on, but the Reds’ defence again stood totally firm until the end.

aston villa: Johnstone, Hutton (Bjaranaon, 73), Baker, Chester, Amavi, Adomah, Hourihane, Lansbury (Green, 73), Grealish (Bacuna, 76), Kodjia, Hogan. Subs not used: Bunn, Elphick, Gardner, Davis.

barnsley: Davies, Yiadom, Roberts, MacDonald, Elder (Jones, 55), Watkins, James, Moncur, Kent (Williams, 85), Bradshaw (Hammill, 79), Armstrong. Subs not used: Townsend, Jackson, Lee, Hedges.

Referee: Geoff Eltringham (Co Durham).