Matt Maher describes Aston Villa’s main flaw ahead of semi-final second leg

Speaking in a video on The Express & Star website before Aston Villa and West Brom’s play-off semi-final second leg, Matt Maher has claimed there is one key thing the Villans need to overcome.

What’s the word?

For large parts of the first leg between Albion and Villa, it was the away side who were the better team. Dwight Gayle was able to open the scoring with a thumping drive in the first half after Glenn Whelan’s horrendous mistake.

However, Dean Smith’s men came back fighting, taking advantage of the tie with two quick strikes courtesy of Tammy Abraham and Conor Hourihane.

It was then made worse for the Baggies when Gayle was shown a red card for a second bookable offence.

The two teams meet again in the second leg on Tuesday evening at the Hawthorns as both sides bid for a place at Wembley.

And speaking ahead of the clash, Express & Star journalist Maher has suggested Villa must overcome their difficulties in front of goal, labelling their inability to take chances as the main flaw in their play. In a video on the newspaper’s website, he said:

“The key for me is that Villa have got to take their chances. That’s probably the one consistent criticism that they don’t score as many goals as they should. They score enough goals to win games but they’ve won a lot of games by one goal margins when it should have been wider. So when those chances arrive they’ve got to take them.”

Slim margins in the play-offs

Considering Villa scored 82 goals, the third most of any team in the Championship this season, it may be a bit bizarre to suggest that the club need to score more.

But the reality is that if they’d taken some of the chances they’ve missed over the course of the campaign then they may well have found themselves in a higher league position with an easier play-off tie.

Abraham’s return is a welcome boost and with him now back there is a greater chance of the Midlands club taking the opportunities that come their way.

The return leg at the Hawthorns will be far tougher and with so much riding on it, scoring first will be vital for Villa. By doing so, they will help to answer their critics.

In the first leg at Villa Park, they had 21 shots with just six of them being on target. That provides evidence to Maher’s claims, and as a result, they’ll have to be much better in that regard to stand a chance on Tuesday evening.