Sport Soccer

Saturday 21 April 2018

WATCH - Ireland's Conor Hourihane produced a beautiful delivery for John Terry's first Villa goal

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Steve Bruce claims Aston Villa are now on course to launch their promotion challenge following their 2-1 Sky Bet Championship victory over Fulham.

Villa were indebted to John Terry's first goal for the club as they beat a progressive Fulham side.

Terry was commanding in the opposition penalty area as he moved unchecked onto Conor Hourihane's beautifully delivered free-kick to head home from close range in the 23rd minute.

It was vintage Terry and he undoubtedly lifted Villa as they had been under considerable pressure from an attacking Fulham side in which Floyd Ayite was always a major threat.

It was Ayite who won the free-kick from which Stefan Johansen equalised a minute into stoppage time at the end of the first half.

Villa took the points when Albert Adomah was on hand to notch the 46th-minute winner with his fifth goal in six games, but Bruce's men had to defend in numbers to keep out an eager Fulham side who lost their first game in five outings.

Bruce said: "We are just about starting in the Championship for me. The winter is upon us and the marathon is starting. But we have made progress from where we were 12 months ago.

"We would like some more points after a poor start but we have dug deep and have only one defeat in 10 games. We are going in the right direction.

"It was important we responded after losing in a local derby (to Wolves) as I was under no illusion how difficult the match would be because Fulham have some very good players.

"It takes us in the right direction.

"I thought John Terry played very well and he is always going to chip in with a few goals."

Bruce was full of praise for the brilliant reflex save made by his goalkeeper Sam Johnstone in the second half, preventing Ayite grabbing an equaliser.

He said: "It was as good a save I have seen for a long time. It was right up there with the best.

"He has done fantastically well over the last 12 months. A typical young player, he took a little time to adapt but he could be with Villa for a long time."

Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic was not very happy with the result.

He said: "For the first 45 minutes we had problems building some of our attacks.

"In the second half we started to move the ball better and dominated the game. We created some great chances but did not score.

"We were not clinical as we missed chances while Villa scored two easy goals from situations which were not dangerous to us.

"We did not have enough quality or personality to appreciate the situations.

"Near the end of the game we pushed hard for a second goal but it didn't occur.

"Everyone knows about John Terry and his danger from set-pieces. We cannot be surprised because Villa are good in set-pieces and he punished us on this occasion."

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