Rotherham 0-2 Aston Villa: Steve Bruce's side ease to rare away win
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 04/03/17 6:14pm
Aston Villa finally ended their away day blues with a deserved 2-0 victory at Rotherham.
Steve Bruce's men, who have addressed their home form over the last week, now registered their first win on the road of 2017 as Will Vaulks' second-half own goal and a Jonathan Kodjia strike earned the three points at New York Stadium.
That was their third win in eight days which puts a much better complexion on the league table, with Villa now looking towards the top half rather than a potential relegation fight.
For Rotherham, who are winless in nine games, their fight against the drop is almost over as they suffered a 26th defeat of the season and, 18 points adrift of safety, it is just a matter of time until their return to League One is confirmed.
There is nothing to cure travel sickness better than a trip to the home of the country's leakiest defence and Villa set about attacking Rotherham from the off.
They somehow failed to take the lead in the 10th minute when Birkir Bjarnason could not force the ball home three yards out as the Millers defended well on the line and goalkeeper Lewis Price then saved well from Conor Hourihane's low shot.
Price was again Rotherham's saviour in the 26th minute as he denied Albert Adomah when the Villa winger was in one-on-one after he capitalised on an error from Aimen Belaid.
Belaid soon atoned for that mistake, though, as Villa kept pressing, with the Millers defender heroically hooking the ball off the line when Adomah had again got in and lifted the ball over Price.
Villa, having been restricted, struggled to reproduce that level of creativity immediately after the break and the game descended into a dull affair, low on quality.
Bruce's men eventually found the breakthrough midway through the second half, but there was little quality involved.
Kodjia broke down the right, fed Adomah whose ball across the face of goal was inadvertently turned in at the far post by Millers defender Vaulks.
That goal sprung life into Villa and they were soon pushing for a second with Jordan Amavi testing Price with a curling effort before Hourihane sent another shot drifting just wide.
Hourihane then wasted their best chance to make it 2-0 when he was set free by Kodjia's header but he put his shot agonisingly wide.
Villa's failure to put the game to bed threatened to come back and haunt them as Rotherham launched a spirited attempt to get a point, with Anthony Forde testing Sam Johnstone with a low effort.
The visitors did eventually make it easy for themselves as Kodjia scored a breakaway second in the 87th minute when he shot in off the post from the edge of the area.
Rotherham boss Paul Warne:
"Hand on heart they were better than us and deserved the win. My job and remit off the chairman is to win as many games as I can and send the fans home happy. The lads gave me everything but it wasn't enough to get the goals to win the game.
"I don't claim to be a super manager, the lads are giving me everything they have got, but we haven't possibly got that little bit of class. I am proud of the way they played at the end but I am disappointed with another defeat. We are doing everything to stop the rot so as long as people can appreciate it."
Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce:
"It was an awful six weeks, I can't deny that. But when I look back at the Ipswich and Nottingham Forest games, we did enough to win those games. We had 50 shots on goal and I thought it was going to be something similar today.
"We have missed so many opportunities, we could have been three up in the first half. In the end it took an own goal to make the breakthrough. I was always confident we could get one because of the law of averages, but there was a nagging worry that it might be another one of those afternoons. We have done enough to win the game."