When it matters in big games, big players step up. In the first half, it looked like West Brom would be the ones stepping up when Dwight Gayle scored early on, capitalising on a horrible error from Glenn Whelan. In hindsight, starting Whelan was a mistake in itself, and the veteran midfielder got the Villains off to a woeful start.
Goal against the run of play. Dwight Gayle pounces on an error to run through and score. Good, instant response, as @JackGrealish1 trickles through several Albion players to threaten. @AElGhazi7 has the resulting effort saved.#PartOfThePride pic.twitter.com/zdoydMkwug
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) May 11, 2019
At times, the experienced ex-Stoke man can be all that the Birmingham club need in midfield, helping to glue things together with his calm and measured approach as the likes of John McGinn and Jack Grealish do their thing in front of him. However, this time, as he laid a ball into Grealish and got the return, Whelan missed the simple touch and allowed Gayle in for the simplest of goals.
It would, in the end, be the man who came off the bench to replace Whelan who would draw the game, and the tie, level. Conor Hourihane scored a wonderful goal to restore parity at Villa Park, and when the Villains make the short trip to The Hawthorns to take on The Baggies on Tuesday they’ll all be hoping that Whelan is binned off in favour of Hourihane, and for obvious reason.
You can read the Villains’ thoughts on Whelan here:
Connor will be on at 46th minute…Whelan brings absolutely nothing into the team.
— Mario Oles (@Oles_Mario) May 11, 2019
Glen Whelan doing what he does best 1-0 down now
— Tonker (@Tonker_96) May 11, 2019
Dear oh dear Glen Whelan
— Dobbyns (@Dobbyns1) May 11, 2019
Why is Whelan playing? Terrible decision!
— Kevin Reid (@reid_zer) May 11, 2019
— Mushroom Fun Guy (@adzyeel) 11 May 2019
Should have started Hourihane!
— Ed Laslett (@EdLaslett) May 11, 2019
— andy (@angryandy__) May 11, 2019
The Villains were far from happy with Whelan yesterday and will be desperate for the Irishman to start on the bench next time out, with his Villa exit drawing nearer and nearer.