Now that is what I call a cup game! Credit to Scunthorpe, they acquitted themselves well and can be proud that they held their own against yet another Premiership opponent.
Scunny came out of the blocks quickly and nearly popped in with an instant goal as their striker popped up between Mellberg and a not yet awake defence only to be foiled by Sorensen.
The game then took shape and what a shape it was! There was end to end attacking football but the great thing about it was it involved passing not hoofing. The ball was played 90% of the time on the ground where it should be played. Villa showed some real class to zip the ball around and enjoyed 56% of the possession (full stats: Click Here ) but that isn’t to say that Scunny didn’t worry out defence at times and certainly didn’t give our players time to dwell on the ball.
It took until the 42nd minute to finally go one up, although we’d hit the crossbar and had some golden chances before the goal. Funnily enough one of the very rare route one long balls found Moore, he was brought down in the box and a penalty was awarded. Juan Pablo Angel once again stepped up to the spot and hit a rather tame penalty that their keeper saved, luckily for us the rebound came straight back to Angel who wasn’t going to miss at the second time of asking. 1-0 to Villa and on the chances produced rightly so.
The second half began the same as the first with a quick Scunny break and nearly a goal but once again they were blocked. For periods of the second half the League One side really threatened but the best chances still fell to Villa and both Luke Moore and Gabriel Agbonlahor with a bit more luck or conviction could both have been on the score-sheet.
Once Aaron Hughes made an inch perfect cross to Angel on the 62nd minute and the Columbian buried the ball in the back of the net, it looked like game over, but things with Villa are never quite that simple and we conceded a scrappy goal scored by the ever keen Sharpe on the 73rd minute. In previous seasons that could have led to all sorts of problems and a possible capitulation, but not this season, things are different, confidence is high and there is belief in the camp. Villa continued to attack and had a few chances to once again put the game out of reach of Scunthorpe.
It was also good to see towards the end that Villa have finally learnt to see games out by going to the corners and keep the ball, there appears to be far more guile about the lads these days, long may that continue!
On the balance of chances, the amount of times we hit the post and possession, Villa were worthy winners, but it certainly wasn’t a one sided affair and a few spills by Thomas Sorensen could have proved far more costly than they did. He also did another woeful pass out, reminiscent of the West Ham game, that went straight to a Scunny player who failed to make the most of the gift. Hopefully he’ll cut that out quickly, he is a much better player than that.
Thomas Sorensen 6
made some good saves but also spilled a few – but at least he reacted quickly to save his own blushes.
Aaron Hughes 7
good return after so long out and an inch perfect cross to lead to the second goal.
Liam Ridgewell 7
becoming a far more solid defender.
Olof Mellberg 7
solid enough, although was lucky that Sorensen was awake to the early threat as he had his back to the game and didn’t realise a Scunny player was breaking through!
Gareth Barry 7
good solid display as we have come to expect from the skipper.
Gavin McCann 6.5
was doing well until he went off injured towards the end of the first half.
Stiliyan Petrov 7
some lovely touches, tough tackles and a good contribution.
Steven Davis 7
same as Petrov, also had a good chance of scoring but shot just wide.
Gabriel Agbonlahor 9
this bloke is a pest! He is only 19 and has the world at his feet. I’d hate to play against the lad, he has speed and energy to burn. Shame he wasn’t able to bury one of his chances and he still has to learn to make more of his final balls count, but he’ll do it, he’ll be a star.
Luke Moore 7
got stuck in but the goals aren’t coming for him at the moment, just a bit more venom in the shots and I’m sure he’ll hit the back of the net.
Juan Pablo Angel 8
superb second goal, if not for the cross bar he’d have had a hattrick. This guy can get 20 this season.
Peter Whittingham (on for McCann 43) 7
I like Whittingham, he has a good future ahead of him as he gets stuck in and has a fair old shot on him as well.
Milan Baros (on for Moore 69)
Still getting up to speed and form, with the right service and a bit more fitness, he’ll start banging them in again.
Jeez, no rants, no raves, I’m totally relaxed. Not sure if I like this!!!