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Player Match Ratings: A painful but not a shock cup exit!


John
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This was no cup shock or slaying of a giant by a minnow. It has become an all too regular occurrence in recent seasons for us to be able to consider a defeat such as this one as either.

 

Orient last night became the fourth club from a division below us to inflict an embarrassing cup defeat on us since January 2013. In doing so they joined Bradford, Millwall and Sheffield United in knocking us out of a cup competition with alarming ease.  

 

There was once a time that a regular draw against Manchester United was required to end our interest in cup competitions with any certainty. But now a cup tie against opponents from a lower division is all that it usually takes to leave us able to concentrate on the league without the pesky distraction of a cup run.   

 

Our club has a great cup fighting tradition but this like a regular place in the top half of the table is now firmly behind us. It has now reached the stage where we arrive half expecting to leave the ground with our opponents being the ones who are left to look forward to the draw for the next round. I for one have had enough of this particular Groundhog Day.

 

Memories of winning this competition twice in three years in 1994 and 1996 are becoming more distant with each season. We do have the league left and the target of getting enough points to stay up once again. We also have the FA Cup still to play for. It would be nice to have enough points on the board next January to not be able to trot out the excuse that a run in this cup that we last won in 1957 would only represent a distraction.    

 

Orient performed well last night and their win was not without merit. They threatened our goal increasingly and grew in belief as the game wore on. We failed to take our opportunities and they increasingly looked the more likely team side to prevent what was beginning to look like inevitable extra time.   

 

This defeat highlights our current lack of a goal threat. We have now gone two home games without troubling the scorer and we rarely look like doing so. We also have a squad that cannot rest nor do without through injury the likes of Delph and Vlaar let alone Benteke without it showing on the pitch.                             

 

My player ratings from a game that has left us with the realisation that we have become the team that everyone else wants to play in the cup are:

 

Shay Given – 6 – Appeared fortunate to be given a first half free kick when he failed to look around him and his arm connected with the forward behind him in the process of throwing the ball out. This led to the ball landing at the feet of an opponent on the edge of the area before the whistle spared his blushes. He also seemed to take an inordinate amount of time to get his kicks away but he did very well on 68 minutes to deny Baudry having tipped his header to safety with the assistance of the far post.                                                    

 

Alan Hutton – 7 – Solid at the back and good runs forward. Alan for once looks like going into an international break as a first team regular and long may this continue.                  

 

Nathan Baker – 5 – We are not so steady at the back without Concrete Ron and that is a clear warning for the club as the end of this transfer window approaches. Should really have been on target at the very least once at the other end. He put a header from a corner over the bar on 62 minutes, failed to get a touch on a good Westwood corner on 75 minutes and then flicked a header wide of the far post on 87 minutes.      

 

Philippe Senderos – 7 – Less composed than he has been alongside our captain of late but this was another steady performance.                     

 

Kieran Richardson – 6 – Did well enough having been moved back to cover for Cissokho’s absence. Vincelot ran in behind him to head in their late winner.              

 

Joe Cole – 5 – A couple of nice touches and showed glimpses of the impressive player he had been before injury took its toll on him. Needs more appearances to build his fitness level up to what it needs to be in order to make a bigger contribution in future games.        

 

Carlos Sánchez - 7 – Ran our midfield particularly in the first half and was always looking for the ball and to break their play up. Gamely came back on for more having come off worse from a crunching first half challenge. Carlos will become increasingly influential when alongside Delph as he settles in at Villa Park.                                  

 

Ashley Westwood – 6 – Shot wide on the half hour having been found by Grealish. Pinged some nice passes and was pretty effective particularly early on.     

 

Jack Grealish – 8 – MOTM - For me Jack is reminiscent of Brian Little in the way that he runs and moves around the pitch. If he can have anything approaching the career Brian had at Villa Park we have a real gem on our hands. Jack made some nice runs and was always prepared to worry and take on defenders. He became increasingly confident and played a progressively more important role for us in the game as it wore on. Cut inside well on 61 minutes and his shot was deflected wide off a defender. Jack then turned a shot just wide of the post on 70 minutes. This was a very encouraging performance on a bleak night.        

 

Leandro Bacuna – 6 – A lovely touch put him clear of his marker in the first half but nothing came of it and had a 23rd minute shot deflected wide off the forehead of a defender. He later scooped a shot over the bar from just inside the box on 80 minutes. Being out of the side will not be helping his confidence but he needs to start doing more when he gets himself into good positions to press for a place.            

 

Darren Bent – 5 – Darren was unlucky on 28 minutes when he was denied by the outstretched leg of keeper Woods after Cole had played him in. Westwood then hit a sweet ball through to him on 59 minutes but his connection onto the ball just helped it harmlessly towards the keeper. Senderos hit a lovely ball through to him from inside his own half and between two defenders on 83 minutes but he shot wide finding the stanchion behind the goal rather than the back of the net.  I cannot help but think that he would have put one of these chances away a couple of seasons ago. He needs more first team action to try to sharpen up his game for the coming weeks.                           

 

Substitutes:

 

Andreas Weimann – 6 – Replaced Joe Cole on 62 minutes and kept himself busy as he always does without being able to add the goal threat we so badly missed last night.

 

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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