Southampton 0-1 Aston Villa: Ollie Watkins heads home to condemn basement boys Saints to a fourth defeat in five… with clash finishing 10 minutes late after drone flew above St Mary’s in the first half, suspending play
- Aston Villa picked up another three points in a hard-fought win at Southampton
- Ollie Watkins bagged the only goal of the game with a 77th minute header
- The result means Nathan Jones’ side stay bottom of the league on 15 points
The day after Danny Ings was allowed to move on by Aston Villa, Ollie Watkins picked a good time to suggest he is ready to shoulder the increased scoring burden.
With the game drifting like the drone above St Mary’s that caused a 10-minute first-half delay and Aston Villa needing a hero, up popped Watkins to head in the 77th-minute winner which continued their remarkable resurgence under Unai Emery.
Following Ings’s £12m move to West Ham, Watkins is, for now, the only remaining senior striker in the Spaniard’s squad.
Ollie Watkins scored the only goal of the game in Aston Villa’s 1-0 win over Southampton
Nathan Jones’s side remain bottom of the Premier League after the result
On the bench, Emery did not have an alternative to turn to, a place Ings may well have occupied.
Never mind. At Southampton, Watkins was on hand to deliver and he fully intends to keep doing so. He said: ‘There’s always pressure when you’re playing for a massive club like Villa. It’s a shame [Ings has left] but I’m willing to take the responsibility and be the main striker. I’m relishing it.
‘As a striker there’s one thing you need to do and that’s score goals. I’m working on it, staying calm, and I took my opportunity. I work hard every day to put the ball in the back of the net and I’ll keep doing that.’
Saints captain James Ward-Prowse had a goal ruled out after a foul in the build-up
Thanks to Watkins, Villa left St Mary’s with the three points following a clash that was low on quality but not, in the end, short on incident.
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
Southampton (4-2-3-1): Bazunu 6; Lyanco 7, Caleta-Car 7 (Djenepo 85), Salisu 6.5, Walker-Peters 6; Lavia 6.5 (Elyounoussi 61, 6), Diallo 6.5; Edozie 6..5 (Perraud 62, 6), Ward-Prowse 6, A Armstrong 5.5 (Orsic 84); Adams 5.5 (Mara 61, 6).
Subs not used: Caballero, Maitland-Niles, Aribo, Dalcaraz.
Manager: Nathan Jones 6
Aston Villa (4-4-2): Martinez 7.5; A Young 7, Konsa 7, Mings 6, Moreno 6; Ramsey 6, Luiz 7 (Dendoncker 88), Kamara 6, Buendia 6.5 (Coutinho 69, 6); Watkins 7, Bailey 6.5 (Cash 81).
Subs not used: Olsen, Sinisalo, Sanson, Chambers, Revan, K Young
Scorer: Watkins 77
Booked: Luiz, Moreno
Manager: Unai Emery 7.5
Referee: Michael Salisbury 6
It meant a fifth win from seven league games and 16 Premier League points from a possible 21 for Emery. Villa were only outside the drop zone on goal difference ahead of his first game but are now up to 11th and just one point off the top half of the table.
Emery said: ‘I am so proud of our work. Today was a key match because we were at the bottom two months ago.’ On his match-winner, Emery added: ‘He is a competitor and he is a striker and when he is not scoring he is not happy, but I am so happy with his work and how he is helping the team.’
Now it is Southampton who occupy bottom spot and they blew the chance to follow up a brilliant last week of three successive wins by climbing out of the relegation zone. They have not won a home league game since August and were booed off once again. Manager Nathan Jones was frustrated, too, his team conceding from a set-piece once again despite his build-up warnings.
The former Luton boss said: ‘Size wise, we’re not the biggest. Probably one of the smallest in the Premier League, in terms of squads.
‘We’ve got to be really, really organised, really aggressive, really structured in terms of the work we do. I couldn’t have been any more aggressive yesterday and in the way I went about certain things. But we got blocked today naively.
‘I’ve come from a level where it is the land of the giants. Here we have to be better. We have to be disciplined. That let us down.’
Jones was also angered by referee Michael Salisbury, who overturned his own decision and chalked off James Ward-Prowse’s goal just after the hour following a VAR review for a foul by Mohamed Elyounoussi on Jacob Ramsey.
Jones said: ‘I’m not quite sure it’s a clear and obvious error. And if it’s not a clear and obvious error then it’s a lot to disallow it. The referee was very picky, very pedantic today in terms of so many fouls, especially against us.’
Ollie Watkins bagged his third Premier League goal of the season with a late header
Fourteen minutes later, Southampton were behind when Watkins squeezed a Douglas Luiz free-kick past Gavin Bazunu. Two eye-catching saves from World Cup winner Emi Martinez either side of Watkins’s goal, the first to deny Adam Armstrong and the second to claw away Moussa Djenepo’s late curler, helped Villa return to the Midlands victorious.
They did so a little later than planned after the first half was held up when Salisbury spotted a drone flying over the ground.
He ordered the players off the pitch and play resumed once the device was steered away from the stadium following the involvement of the police. That looked set to be the talking point of the game, with clear chances few and far between and repeated sloppiness from both sides. Then the second-half brought VAR’s controversial intervention and Watkins’s winner.