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John

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  1. Ross McCormack

    You are correct he had one start and came off the bench 7 times according to Wiki. He scored 14 goals in 27 appearances for Dinamo Zagreb before joining us and 15 from 24 when he returned to them on loan before signing for Club Brugge where he scored 40 in 83 appearances. So there was a player there somewhere but he never looked anything like one in a Villa shirt. He only started one game for a reason with us. He never looked likely to score for us or that bothered about doing so. For me, Ross looked like Denis Law in a Villa shirt when compared to Bosco in one.
  2. You are 110% right on that substitution and I agree that the win may have swayed me to go up rather than down a mark when a couple of players were somewhere between two marks on this occasion.
  3. This was not a great game or performance from us but the mark of sides that get promoted is that they are able to grind out results when not at their very best and this is what we managed to do this afternoon. We now stand seventh in the table having won our fourth successive league game. We are unbeaten in our last eight games and are just a point behind the three clubs immediately above us that occupy three of the four play-off positions. We are also only 4 points off Wolves who occupy the second of the automatic promotion places and we visit them next. Bolton fought hard for something from this game. They were uncompromising and took full advantage of the lenience the referee gave to their challenges on our two strikers. Once we went in front it could be argued that the game was won given our visitors had not scored in their last six games. Win it we did but it was a little too close for comfort towards the end of the match and the referee’s whistle was much more welcome than the referee himself was. Having won this battle between two founder members of the football league we now face an international break that is unwelcome as we have built a momentum that would be nice to build upon without any delay. Both teams now face a testing battle during the rest of this season at different ends of the table. Bolton have a bit of a mountain to climb to hold onto the Championship status they claimed back last season having had their worst start to a season in 115 years. Although we increasingly have the look of a thoroughbred moving up through the field as the winning post approaches this race is not a sprint and today’s game demonstrated that we should not start counting our chickens just yet. My player ratings from a game that continued our winning and unbeaten league runs are: Sam Johnstone – 6 – Got down well at his left-hand post to keep out a shot from outside of the box from Ameobe on 9 minutes. Got down again in the first minute of first half stoppage time to keep out an Armstrong effort. He looks solid. Ahmed Elmohamady – 6 – A decent all-round performance. James Chester - 7 – Solid once again. John Terry – 7 – He is a rock in our solid defence. Neil Taylor - 6 – Made a nice 90th minute run but was fouled as he was about to pull the trigger on the edge of the box by Henry who was yellow carded as a result. Was then given a straight red 4 minutes later when a yellow seemed more appropriate for what was admittedly a rash high challenge on Le Fondre. No doubt we will be appealing this decision. Robert Snodgrass – 7 – Had a very decent shot from just inside of the area well saved at his near post by Howard on 79 minutes. Worked tirelessly and will improve further with more games. Glenn Whelan - 6 – Worked hard. Lost possession a couple of times but this was a steady enough display. Conor Hourihane – 6 – Did his job effectively but I think he is more valuable to us when given the opportunity to get forward more often. Albert Adomah – 6 – A very good first half. Jonathan Kodjia – 7 – MOTM – Hit our winner from the spot on 39 minutes when Howard went left and he coolly hit the ball right. Headed a Adomah cross over the bar in the 3rd minute of first half stoppage time. Should have done better on 37 minutes when a superb long ball from Elmohamady fell to him as he moved into the box but instead of squaring the ball for the waiting unmarked Adomah to tap it into the net he hit the ball wide of the far post. Made up for that when he was brought down by Beevers for the penalty that he himself converted. Keinan Davis – 6 – Held and manhandled at every available opportunity by the defenders he came up against as was Kodjia who was also given little to no protection from the match officials other than when he was brought down for the penalty. Substitutes: Scott Hogan – 6 – Replaced Kodjia on 72 minutes. Made a nice run into the box on 78 minutes having picked up a ball from Whelan but his shot was blocked by a defender. Looked good in the time he had to do so. Josh Onomah – 6 - Replaced Adomah on 73 minutes and did his bit to help steady the ship at the end. Chris Samba – Replaced Snodgrass on 89 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating but did play a loose ball back shortly after coming on that could have cost us the win and then bravely got his head in the way of an on-target shot from Madine in the 5th minute of stoppage time to secure our victory. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  4. This was not a great game or performance from us but the mark of sides that get promoted is that they are able to grind out results when not at their very best and this is what we managed to do this afternoon. We now stand seventh in the table having won our fourth successive league game. We are unbeaten in our last eight games and are just a point behind the three clubs immediately above us that occupy three of the four play-off positions. We are also only 4 points off Wolves who occupy the second of the automatic promotion places and we visit them next. Bolton fought hard for something from this game. They were uncompromising and took full advantage of the lenience the referee gave to their challenges on our two strikers. Once we went in front it could be argued that the game was won given our visitors had not scored in their last six games. Win it we did but it was a little too close for comfort towards the end of the match and the referee’s whistle was much more welcome than the referee himself was. Having won this battle between two founder members of the football league we now face an international break that is unwelcome as we have built a momentum that would be nice to build upon without any delay. Both teams now face a testing battle during the rest of this season at different ends of the table. Bolton have a bit of a mountain to climb to hold onto the Championship status they claimed back last season having had their worst start to a season in 115 years. Although we increasingly have the look of a thoroughbred moving up through the field as the winning post approaches this race is not a sprint and today’s game demonstrated that we should not start counting our chickens just yet. My player ratings from a game that continued our winning and unbeaten league runs are: Sam Johnstone – 6 – Got down well at his left-hand post to keep out a shot from outside of the box from Ameobe on 9 minutes. Got down again in the first minute of first half stoppage time to keep out an Armstrong effort. He looks solid. Ahmed Elmohamady – 6 – A decent all-round performance. James Chester - 7 – Solid once again. John Terry – 7 – He is a rock in our solid defence. Neil Taylor - 6 – Made a nice 90th minute run but was fouled as he was about to pull the trigger on the edge of the box by Henry who was yellow carded as a result. Was then given a straight red 4 minutes later when a yellow seemed more appropriate for what was admittedly a rash high challenge on Le Fondre. No doubt we will be appealing this decision. Robert Snodgrass – 7 – Had a very decent shot from just inside of the area well saved at his near post by Howard on 79 minutes. Worked tirelessly and will improve further with more games. Glenn Whelan - 6 – Worked hard. Lost possession a couple of times but this was a steady enough display. Conor Hourihane – 6 – Did his job effectively but I think he is more valuable to us when given the opportunity to get forward more often. Albert Adomah – 6 – A very good first half. Jonathan Kodjia – 7 – MOTM – Hit our winner from the spot on 39 minutes when Howard went left and he coolly hit the ball right. Headed a Adomah cross over the bar in the 3rd minute of first half stoppage time. Should have done better on 37 minutes when a superb long ball from Elmohamady fell to him as he moved into the box but instead of squaring the ball for the waiting unmarked Adomah to tap it into the net he hit the ball wide of the far post. Made up for that when he was brought down by Beevers for the penalty that he himself converted. Keinan Davis – 6 – Held and manhandled at every available opportunity by the defenders he came up against as was Kodjia who was also given little to no protection from the match officials other than when he was brought down for the penalty. Substitutes: Scott Hogan – 6 – Replaced Kodjia on 72 minutes. Made a nice run into the box on 78 minutes having picked up a ball from Whelan but his shot was blocked by a defender. Looked good in the time he had to do so. Josh Onomah – 6 - Replaced Adomah on 73 minutes and did his bit to help steady the ship at the end. Chris Samba – Replaced Snodgrass on 89 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating but did play a loose ball back shortly after coming on that could have cost us the win and then bravely got his head in the way of an on-target shot from Madine in the 5th minute of stoppage time to secure our victory. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  5. Gabby Agbonlahor

    I would look at Thor and other left side options before giving Gabby a place on the bench if he was fit to sit on it.
  6. Gabby Agbonlahor

    I think a place on the bench is in doubt for him now (even given his scoring record against them) because we have players who give us options off the bench who might reasonably see themselves above him in the pecking order now.
  7. Pre-Match Thread

    Bolton are our next visitors at 15.00 on Saturday 30/9/17. They have won their last two games at Villa Park. Our visitors beat us twice at Villa Park in season 2011/12 (1-2 & 0-2) in the league & League Cup respectively. Overal we have won 62, lost 59 and drawn 40 of the 161 games played between the two clubs. We were both founder members of the football league and we won the first two games played between the two clubs in 1888-89 (3-2 (a) & 6-2 (h)). We need a win to stretch our unbeaten run to 8 games, to win 4 league games on the trot and to hopefully move into the top six. Bolton have not scored a goal in their last 6 league games. We have scored 9 goals in our last 3 league games. Current form and the league table points to another win for Villa but we should take nothing for granted. A 3-0 home win would be nice but I would take any sort of win on Saturday by 4 or more goals given the choice.
  8. Pre-match thread

    We have never lost to Burton having won at home (2-1) and drawn away (1-1) in our only two games against them which were played last season. We need to win this one but Burton will relish the prospect of taking us on again so it will not be easy (it seldom is for us). A win would establish us as serious promotion contenders again. 2-0 would be nice! As far as resting players is concerned I might bring in Onomah or Lansbury for Whelan and Bree for Elmohamady as well as bring off a couple if/when we have established a three goal lead with one eye on the Bolton game.
  9. A super well-placed Conor Hourihane free-kick gave Villa the win in yesterday’s game between the only two of the five English teams that have lifted the European Cup that currently play outside of the top flight. Forest won that trophy in 1979 and 1980. Villa continued the Midlands domination of that cup competition in 1982 to become the fifth consecutive winners from England with Liverpool also having won the trophy in 1977, 1978 and in 1981. These two Midland clubs have sadly fallen from grace and have a long way to go to become anything approaching the teams that they were back then. Villa played well in the first half following a strong start to the game from our visitors. Our team produced some entertaining football with Adomah and Snodgrass both making some nice positive runs down each flank. Forest played their part in what was one of the better 45 minutes of football played at Villa Park in recent seasons. We scored one but the nagging thought remained that at the end of the game we might regret having not put at least one of our other first-half opportunities away. Forest had a little too much of the ball for my liking in the first 45 minutes and that was even more the case in the second half. They were always going to get a chance or two given the amount of possession they were enjoying and they got the equaliser that many had feared they might on the 52nd minute. Fortunately, we bounced back with the goal that won it for us from our top goal scorer Hourihane on the hour and we managed to hang onto that lead until the close. The three points that we gained from yesterday’s win took us into the top half of the table. It gave us two consecutive league wins for the first time this season which took us just 2 points off the play-off places and within 7 points of the automatic promotion spots. We are still playing catch-up after our poor start to the season but we are at least in the process of catching up. Wins against Burton and Bolton next week that will put us on 4 wins from 4 games are now required to give us the momentum that we need. My player ratings from a game that we might well have drawn (which we did last season) are: Sam Johnstone – 7 – Sealed our win when he showed his agility in pushing an 85th minute 30-yard Dowell free-kick that was played over our defensive wall and was heading for the top corner wide of the post with one hand. Had earlier been somewhat fortunate when he blocked a 55th minute Dowell shot with his right leg and it somehow deflected to safety past his left-hand post. Gathered a 57th minute Murphy header that went straight at him easily enough. Sam had the occasional wayward kick yesterday that led to a couple of throw-ins for the visitors but his confidence is there for all to see now and I hope we can make his loan into a permanent signing. Ahmed Elmohamady – 5 – Forest targeted his wing as being a potential weak point for us from the start and had some element of success having done so. James Chester - 7 – Did well and again looked solid yesterday alongside JT. John Terry – 7 – Another composed and solid defensive performance. It was nice to see how much the win meant to him when the referee blew the final whistle. Neil Taylor - 7 – Comfortable at the back and looked good when moving forward. His best performance to date for us in my opinion. Robert Snodgrass – 7 – He gives us a lot and was a real threat on the wing but had understandably tired well before his 88th minute substitution due no doubt to his inactivity before joining us. Hit a nice cross on 33 minutes that Smith pushed out for a corner at the far post with Kodjia in close attention. Glenn Whelan - 4 – Started well enough but tired noticeably in the second half wanting to take too long on the ball at times and being caught or almost caught in possession on occasion. Claimed an unwanted assist for their equalizer when both he and Terry tried to take the ball off Murphy on the edge of the penalty area but his involuntary touch on the ball instead put the striker clear inside the box and his shot gave Johnstone no chance. Jedinak’s injury impacts on our ability to rotate Mile and Glenn as well as to bring one of them on when the other tires. Conor Hourihane – 8 – Hit our winner on the hour with a superb free kick that he bent around the wall and past Smith. A very good all-round midfield display throughout. Albert Adomah – 8 – MOTM – Albert’s on fire, isn’t he? Hit our first goal after 15 minutes when he collected a splendidly measured ball played between two defenders into the box by Kodjia before rounding Smith and coolly slotting the ball home. Picked up a ball from Whelan just inside their half 3 minutes later and ran forward before cutting inside and hitting a shot from outside of the box that flew over the far post. Almost got on the end of a nice 56th minute ball into the box from Snodgrass that had just needed a touch at the near post. He was a constant problem to the visitors with his wide runs at their defenders. Jonathan Kodjia – 7 – Got a big assist for our opening goal with a perfect defence splitting pass that was reminiscent of the sort that Gordon Cowans used to hit at will. Hit a 36th minute shot that Smith gathered at the second attempt after Davis had found him inside of the box. We look so much more threatening with “Johnny Danger” back in the starting line-up. Keinan Davis – 7 – He holds the ball up and brings others into play so very well. Was found on the edge of the area by Snodgrass on 28 minutes and then showed some nice footwork before hitting a cross towards Kodjia that went wide of the far post. Substitutes: Josh Onomah – 5 – Replaced Davis on 72 minutes. Found settling into this game and making an impression upon it a little more difficult than he would have hoped in the time he had available to do so. Scott Hogan – Replaced Kodjia on 79 minutes. Not on long enough to earn a rating. Alan Hutton – Replaced Snodgrass on 88 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating but he did stiffen us up defensively as we looked to close the game out and made an early challenge that left no doubt whatsoever that he meant business. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  10. A super well-placed Conor Hourihane free-kick gave Villa the win in yesterday’s game between the only two of the five English teams that have lifted the European Cup that currently play outside of the top flight. Forest won that trophy in 1979 and 1980. Villa continued the Midlands domination of that cup competition in 1982 to become the fifth consecutive winners from England with Liverpool also having won the trophy in 1977, 1978 and in 1981. These two Midland clubs have sadly fallen from grace and have a long way to go to become anything approaching the teams that they were back then. Villa played well in the first half following a strong start to the game from our visitors. Our team produced some entertaining football with Adomah and Snodgrass both making some nice positive runs down each flank. Forest played their part in what was one of the better 45 minutes of football played at Villa Park in recent seasons. We scored one but the nagging thought remained that at the end of the game we might regret having not put at least one of our other first-half opportunities away. Forest had a little too much of the ball for my liking in the first 45 minutes and that was even more the case in the second half. They were always going to get a chance or two given the amount of possession they were enjoying and they got the equaliser that many had feared they might on the 52nd minute. Fortunately, we bounced back with the goal that won it for us from our top goal scorer Hourihane on the hour and we managed to hang onto that lead until the close. The three points that we gained from yesterday’s win took us into the top half of the table. It gave us two consecutive league wins for the first time this season which took us just 2 points off the play-off places and within 7 points of the automatic promotion spots. We are still playing catch-up after our poor start to the season but we are at least in the process of catching up. Wins against Burton and Bolton next week that will put us on 4 wins from 4 games are now required to give us the momentum that we need. My player ratings from a game that we might well have drawn (which we did last season) are: Sam Johnstone – 7 – Sealed our win when he showed his agility in pushing an 85th minute 30-yard Dowell free-kick that was played over our defensive wall and was heading for the top corner wide of the post with one hand. Had earlier been somewhat fortunate when he blocked a 55th minute Dowell shot with his right leg and it somehow deflected to safety past his left-hand post. Gathered a 57th minute Murphy header that went straight at him easily enough. Sam had the occasional wayward kick yesterday that led to a couple of throw-ins for the visitors but his confidence is there for all to see now and I hope we can make his loan into a permanent signing. Ahmed Elmohamady – 5 – Forest targeted his wing as being a potential weak point for us from the start and had some element of success having done so. James Chester - 7 – Did well and again looked solid yesterday alongside JT. John Terry – 7 – Another composed and solid defensive performance. It was nice to see how much the win meant to him when the referee blew the final whistle. Neil Taylor - 7 – Comfortable at the back and looked good when moving forward. His best performance to date for us in my opinion. Robert Snodgrass – 7 – He gives us a lot and was a real threat on the wing but had understandably tired well before his 88th minute substitution due no doubt to his inactivity before joining us. Hit a nice cross on 33 minutes that Smith pushed out for a corner at the far post with Kodjia in close attention. Glenn Whelan - 4 – Started well enough but tired noticeably in the second half wanting to take too long on the ball at times and being caught or almost caught in possession on occasion. Claimed an unwanted assist for their equalizer when both he and Terry tried to take the ball off Murphy on the edge of the penalty area but his involuntary touch on the ball instead put the striker clear inside the box and his shot gave Johnstone no chance. Jedinak’s injury impacts on our ability to rotate Mile and Glenn as well as to bring one of them on when the other tires. Conor Hourihane – 8 – Hit our winner on the hour with a superb free kick that he bent around the wall and past Smith. A very good all-round midfield display throughout. Albert Adomah – 8 – MOTM – Albert’s on fire, isn’t he? Hit our first goal after 15 minutes when he collected a splendidly measured ball played between two defenders into the box by Kodjia before rounding Smith and coolly slotting the ball home. Picked up a ball from Whelan just inside their half 3 minutes later and ran forward before cutting inside and hitting a shot from outside of the box that flew over the far post. Almost got on the end of a nice 56th minute ball into the box from Snodgrass that had just needed a touch at the near post. He was a constant problem to the visitors with his wide runs at their defenders. Jonathan Kodjia – 7 – Got a big assist for our opening goal with a perfect defence splitting pass that was reminiscent of the sort that Gordon Cowans used to hit at will. Hit a 36th minute shot that Smith gathered at the second attempt after Davis had found him inside of the box. We look so much more threatening with “Johnny Danger” back in the starting line-up. Keinan Davis – 7 – He holds the ball up and brings others into play so very well. Was found on the edge of the area by Snodgrass on 28 minutes and then showed some nice footwork before hitting a cross towards Kodjia that went wide of the far post. Substitutes: Josh Onomah – 5 – Replaced Davis on 72 minutes. Found settling into this game and making an impression upon it a little more difficult than he would have hoped in the time he had available to do so. Scott Hogan – Replaced Kodjia on 79 minutes. Not on long enough to earn a rating. Alan Hutton – Replaced Snodgrass on 88 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating but he did stiffen us up defensively as we looked to close the game out and made an early challenge that left no doubt whatsoever that he meant business. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  11. Pre-Match Thread

    Forest last won at Villa Park in 1994 (2-0). Since then we have won 2 and drawn 2 of our home games with them. In all we have 56 wins to their 37 and the two clubs have drawn 29 times. They are a club who like ourselves have won the European Cup (so that is a chant we cannot use against them). A win would take us a point above our visitors and most likely into the top half of the table. Make it happen Villa! I'm going for a win by the odd goal or two.
  12. We made 11 changes from the team that won 3-0 at Barnsley on Saturday and paid the penalty for that with a cup exit (our first ever League Cup defeat against yesterday’s opponents). Not that we are alone in making significant changes in this cup competition and resting first team players at the drop of a hat as Middlesbrough made 10 changes themselves. The League Cup was a really important trophy for around 40 years from the mid 60’s but it’s importance has faded to the extent that only 11,197 supporters attended this game. This game reminded me of those old Central League games that were played between reserve sides comprising of players who were out of favour, coming back from injury or potential first team players of the future. Crowds did not particularly flock in to see those games either. Clubs mostly play teams that are pretty much unrecognisable from their first-team line ups until the last eight of the League Cup at least. We no longer have replays so that players do not face too many games in a season but those players do not play in the League Cup now anyway! The name of the competition has now become anyone’s guess with the sponsors having changed with great regularity since 1982 when the League Cup became the Milk Cup before morphing into a trophy that no club really makes a priority at the start of each season. It is a pity to see its demise. This game turned on the 57th minute when we conceded a penalty and the first goal from the spot. We also lost Elphick who was given a second yellow which brought us down to ten men for the rest of the game (this referee was far less determined to even things up than the one had been last week). Up until then there had been little to choose between these two second string outfits neither of whom seemed desperate to want to win this game. Both teams produced a lack lustre performance last night and it could be argued that we didn’t really play much at all. The game seemed to be drifting towards a tame goalless draw, extra time and penalties until the penalty was awarded. That gave Boro the impetus and the place in the next round on a day few Villa players did anything significant to advance their case for a first team call-up. We are now left free to concentrate on the league and to bring on the first team. My player ratings from a game that extended the number of years we have gone without a League Cup Final appearance and a League Cup Final win beyond 8 and 22 years respectively are: Jed Steer – 5 – Could only watch with relief when Bamford’s 26th minute header from a cross struck the bar with Hutton standing statuesque alongside the striker. Saved well low at his right-hand post to keep out a 30-yard shot from Forshaw on 36 minutes. Went left and Bamford struck his 58th minute spot kick down the middle. Caught in no-man’s land for their second when Bamford headed home a Tavernier cross at the near post that Bjarnason seemed to be trying to avoid making any contact with. Ritchie De Laet – 5 – Made a good late run from well inside this own half on 92 minutes but his finish was high, wide and not very handsome. Headed the ball off the line on 89 minutes from a Taverier header or was it already marginally over? Tommy Elphick - 4 – Started comfortably enough and headed in from a Lansbury free-kick but was flagged offside. Earned a second yellow card and cost us the game on 57 minutes when he rashly brought down Bamford inside the box and reduced us to 10 men. Chris Samba – 6 – Did the simple things well enough and plays to his strengths. Alan Hutton - 6 – Started very well. Henri Lansbury – 6 – Sent off against these same opponents last Tuesday but was available to play having had his red card correctly rescinded. Went off with an injury on 41 minutes and we missed his experience. Jake Doyle-Hayes - 6 – Not as effective as he was in his last cup outing but he was very, very good on that day. Josh Onomah – 5 – Not at his best last night but few were. Had a 44th minute effort kept out at the far post by Konstantopoulos. Calum O’Hare – 6 – MOTM – Make another good impression last night. Chased down apparently lost causes such as in the 34th minute when he went after a Hutton cross that seemed destined to go out of play and turned it back towards goal to force Konstantopoulos to stretch out a hand to avert the danger. Worked hard throughout just needs to try to add a cutting edge to his game. Birkir Bjarnason – 4 – Another disappointing display and he is clearly no full back. Scott Hogan – 5 – Could not quite turn a ball into the box in from close range on the hour mark. More was expected from him but he did not get a lot of service. Looked understandably unhappy to be substituted as were we to see him go given the match situation. Substitutes: Ross McCormack – 5 – Replaced Lansbury on 41 minutes. Showed a couple of nice touches and looked like he might have turned home a 65th minute Samba header from a corner. Is it time to re-think bringing him back in from the cold? Jordan Lyden – 5 - Replaced Hogan on 60 minutes. Made no particularly noticeable impression on the game in the time he had available. Corey Blackett-Taylor – Replaced Onomah on 81 minutes. Not on long enough to earn a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  13. We made 11 changes from the team that won 3-0 at Barnsley on Saturday and paid the penalty for that with a cup exit (our first ever League Cup defeat against yesterday’s opponents). Not that we are alone in making significant changes in this cup competition and resting first team players at the drop of a hat as Middlesbrough made 10 changes themselves. The League Cup was a really important trophy for around 40 years from the mid 60’s but it’s importance has faded to the extent that only 11,197 supporters attended this game. This game reminded me of those old Central League games that were played between reserve sides comprising of players who were out of favour, coming back from injury or potential first team players of the future. Crowds did not particularly flock in to see those games either. Clubs mostly play teams that are pretty much unrecognisable from their first-team line ups until the last eight of the League Cup at least. We no longer have replays so that players do not face too many games in a season but those players do not play in the League Cup now anyway! The name of the competition has now become anyone’s guess with the sponsors having changed with great regularity since 1982 when the League Cup became the Milk Cup before morphing into a trophy that no club really makes a priority at the start of each season. It is a pity to see its demise. This game turned on the 57th minute when we conceded a penalty and the first goal from the spot. We also lost Elphick who was given a second yellow which brought us down to ten men for the rest of the game (this referee was far less determined to even things up than the one had been last week). Up until then there had been little to choose between these two second string outfits neither of whom seemed desperate to want to win this game. Both teams produced a lack lustre performance last night and it could be argued that we didn’t really play much at all. The game seemed to be drifting towards a tame goalless draw, extra time and penalties until the penalty was awarded. That gave Boro the impetus and the place in the next round on a day few Villa players did anything significant to advance their case for a first team call-up. We are now left free to concentrate on the league and to bring on the first team. My player ratings from a game that extended the number of years we have gone without a League Cup Final appearance and a League Cup Final win beyond 8 and 22 years respectively are: Jed Steer – 5 – Could only watch with relief when Bamford’s 26th minute header from a cross struck the bar with Hutton standing statuesque alongside the striker. Saved well low at his right-hand post to keep out a 30-yard shot from Forshaw on 36 minutes. Went left and Bamford struck his 58th minute spot kick down the middle. Caught in no-man’s land for their second when Bamford headed home a Tavernier cross at the near post that Bjarnason seemed to be trying to avoid making any contact with. Ritchie De Laet – 5 – Made a good late run from well inside this own half on 92 minutes but his finish was high, wide and not very handsome. Headed the ball off the line on 89 minutes from a Taverier header or was it already marginally over? Tommy Elphick - 4 – Started comfortably enough and headed in from a Lansbury free-kick but was flagged offside. Earned a second yellow card and cost us the game on 57 minutes when he rashly brought down Bamford inside the box and reduced us to 10 men. Chris Samba – 6 – Did the simple things well enough and plays to his strengths. Alan Hutton - 6 – Started very well. Henri Lansbury – 6 – Sent off against these same opponents last Tuesday but was available to play having had his red card correctly rescinded. Went off with an injury on 41 minutes and we missed his experience. Jake Doyle-Hayes - 6 – Not as effective as he was in his last cup outing but he was very, very good on that day. Josh Onomah – 5 – Not at his best last night but few were. Had a 44th minute effort kept out at the far post by Konstantopoulos. Calum O’Hare – 6 – MOTM – Make another good impression last night. Chased down apparently lost causes such as in the 34th minute when he went after a Hutton cross that seemed destined to go out of play and turned it back towards goal to force Konstantopoulos to stretch out a hand to avert the danger. Worked hard throughout just needs to try to add a cutting edge to his game. Birkir Bjarnason – 4 – Another disappointing display and he is clearly no full back. Scott Hogan – 5 – Could not quite turn a ball into the box in from close range on the hour mark. More was expected from him but he did not get a lot of service. Looked understandably unhappy to be substituted as were we to see him go given the match situation. Substitutes: Ross McCormack – 5 – Replaced Lansbury on 41 minutes. Showed a couple of nice touches and looked like he might have turned home a 65th minute Samba header from a corner. Is it time to re-think bringing him back in from the cold? Jordan Lyden – 5 - Replaced Hogan on 60 minutes. Made no particularly noticeable impression on the game in the time he had available. Corey Blackett-Taylor – Replaced Onomah on 81 minutes. Not on long enough to earn a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  14. Pre-match thread

    We have played Boro 4 times in the League Cup winning every one of those games (1-0 (h) in 1994, 3-2 (h) in 1990, 1-0 (h) & 1-0 (a) both in 1987). Promotion has to be our priority but if we can make it 5 League Cup wins on the trot and march into the last 16 then so be it! I would start with Steer, Bree, De Laet, Elphick, Clark, Doyle-Hayes, O'Hare, Jedinak, Lansbury, Bjarnason & Hogan.
  15. 17/18 Promotion Charge

    I agree that the play-off's are a lottery and that automatic promotion should always be our aim but promotion via the play-off's would do for me . Having said that, not going up whether we made those play-off's or not would represent a failure for me.