This is going to be fairly short, and low on details since there were no video feeds of today's match. Aston Villa have advanced to the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 3-1 win over Blackburn Rovers today. Goals from Ciaran Clark, Robert Pires (?!), and Nathan Delfouneso were enough to overcome an 18th minute strike from early Blackburn sub Nikola Kalinic.
From what I could tell when Jack Woodward and Andy Blair were focusing on the match itself, Villa played a blazingly fast and aggressive first half. It's hard to be sure without seeing, but it sounded like the confidence gained in the January transfer window has translated to the entire team, even without Jean Makoun and cup-tied Darren Bent on the pitch. The Pires goal received a great reception from the 26,000+ in attendance at Villa Park today, and the radio commentators seemed almost as stunned as everyone watching that the goal came off the foot of the Frenchman.
The second half opened without Gabriel Agbonlahor, who was sidelined with some sort of an injury. We'll try to get you more details on that as they become available. In his stead we got Stewart Downing. The second half didn't feature as much positive soccer, but things got tricky for Villa when Nathan Baker (in only his 2nd start) got sent off on an red-card from the ref. Woodward and Blair missed it, but twitter reports seem to agree that a red might have been unwarranted. This left Villa with a hole in the back line, which was filled by Downing.
Aside from a few substitutions, there wasn't much to be said about the rest of the second half. Very little action in front of the goal save for what sounded like a great opportunity off of a Stewart Downing run up the left. Apparently the only thing that stood between Villa and a 4-1 lead was some fantastic goalkeeping from Paul Robinson.
Overall, I think we have to be happy with the win. Villa never seemed out of control of the match, and we're onto the next round while having given a rest to some of our normal starters ahead of Tuesday's match against Manchester United. Villa head into that match on a streak of great form, having won three in a row and outscoring our opponents 6-2 in that stretch. I don't know if we can beat the undefeated Manchester United at Old Trafford, but you have to feel better about our chances now than you did a month ago.
Be sure to check back to see who Villa draw for the fifth round of the Cup. Up the Villa!