At half-time at the New York Stadium last Wednesday night Aston Villa’s unbeaten run looked as though it may have been coming to an end.
The potent Tammy Abraham failed to find the net from a spot-kick whilst the Millers then scored their own penalty and in the process, Tyrone Mings was sent off.
The Bournemouth loanee has been colossal at the back this season, yet this was the first dismissal of his career. Hardly timely given Villa finds themselves in a battle for promotion.
However, as he so often has already this season, Dean Smith found a way to get something extra out of his players, taking a big gamble at half time which helped the Midlands club extend their winning run to seven matches.
That gamble saw Mile Jedinak come off the bench and play in central defence, but he put in a fantastic display that helped set the platform for a Villa comeback.
Mile Jedinak (Rotherham vs Aston Villa)
9 aerial duels won
2 successful tackles
(Stats courtesy of WhoScored)
Steve Bruce used Jedinak regularly at centre half earlier in the season and claimed in August that was where he saw the Australian’s career going forward. But, a midfielder by trade, he received criticism for his performances when moved deeper.
Yet, it was probably a spell which has now benefitted Villa, such was his performance this week as he silenced doubters. Without him, they may not have won.
The ex-Palace captain was hugely influential and was particularly impressive in the air, winning a considerable amount of duels. Having been poor in defence at the start of the campaign, this was a huge contrast to what had been witnessed before.
With ten men, it was going to be difficult for the Villans, even against a relegation-threatened team. But Jedinak helped keep things solid and made numerous clearances. Boasting a tackle success of 100% is a further indication of how he proved critics wrong.
The Australian international may not be Mings, but his performance gave Villa fans a reason to think they can still do well even without him.