By Anthony Onifade

29th May, 2023 | 4:04pm

Matty Cash may be left to fear for Aston Villa future after what happened in 2-1 win v Brighton

Aston Villa confirmed their impressive spot in the Europa Conference League for the 2023/24 campaign after a hard-fought 2-1 win over Brighton at Villa Park (28 May).

Villa needed to win to finish seventh in the Premier League and earn a spot in the playoffs for the third-tier Europa Conference League.

Unai Emery’s side made the perfect start when Douglas Luiz slotted home from Ramsey’s low cross when left unmarked on the edge of the Brighton penalty box.

Ollie Watkins doubled Villa’s lead just before the 30-minute mark following some love play from John McGinn and Ramsey, before Deniz Undav scored just before the half-time break.

The Villans managed to hold on for all three points despite coming under late pressure to confirm 7th place in the Premier League and their first European appearance in 13 years.

Ex-Sevilla and Arsenal boss Emery arrived from Villarreal and has transformed Villa’s season, guiding the side to 15 wins from 25 matches and taking them back into Europe.

More crucially, this game will have provided Emery with the final chance to assess his squad ahead of a potential major Aston Villa overhaul, and after the impressive performances of many of his key stars, one player, in particular, may well be fearing for his Villa Park future after a woeful performance against the Seagulls.

Matty Cash has proven a crucial commodity in the Aston Villa side in recent seasons after some mature, assured and dominant performances at right-back since his move from Nottingham Forest in 2020.

The latter stages of the 2022/23 campaign have been something of an unfortunate struggle for the Polish international, suffering from injuries and a lack of form and these last few games presented him with the opportunity to show Emery he should continue to be the first choice Aston Villa right-back, especially with European football now on the horizon.

However, against Brighton, the former Forest defender failed to live up to the billing.

The 25-year-old was all at sea for Brighton’s disallowed equaliser, given the absolute runaround by Julio Ensico before he set up Denis Undav, only for the goal to be correctly chalked off.

However, his struggles didn’t stop there.

The Polish international was given a yellow card for a rash cynical foul and, in some eyes, may have been lucky not to be given his marching orders after charging into the back of the Brighton attacker in an aerial challenge.

As per SofaScore, Cash was given the worst average score of any Aston Villa player at 6.4/10, only recording two tackles, one interception, losing possession of the ball nine times, failing to win any of his aerial duels and successfully completing just 77% of his passes and failed to deliver any key pass or telling cross in the attacking sense.

Emery will be left disappointed by Cash’s lack of defensive intensity, something Ashley Young has marvellously achieved in the Pole’s absence.

The Spaniard is sure to strengthen his back-line during the summer transfer window, with plenty of players potentially leaving Villa Park and the right-back position may now be looked at as a crucial area to address which means Cash may well be staring at the Villa Park exit door before long.

In other Aston Villa news, one academy graduate has picked up an injury which could derail his pre-season plans.