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Aston Villa 2-0 Hereford United, Carling Cup: Eric Lichaj Takes Break From Saving Puppies, Healing Sick To Fire Villa Into Third Round

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This is not the picture of Eric Lichaj's winner for Aston Villa that I was hoping for. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
This is not the picture of Eric Lichaj's winner for Aston Villa that I was hoping for. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
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There was no video of this game, just an AVTV audio feed so we're left to take Jack Woodward's assurances that Villa spent the better part of the evening in complete control. The stats seem to back that up; Villa had a nice edge in possession and managed 17 shots (8 on target) to Hereford's 4 (with Guzan saving 2.) It certainly sounded as though Villa spent the better part of the evening in Hereford's final third and the exasperated sighs of the crowd would imply that Woodward wasn't spinning his tales of just-missed chances from whole cloth. And yet, with only ten minutes before the end of the 90, things were still even at 0-0.

You likely know what happened next; Eric Lichaj had a ball fall to him in front of goal from a corner and he didn't disappoint. Seven minutes later Nathan Delfouneso tacked on another to erase all doubt. Villa saw out the rest of the game and it ended there, 2-0 to the home side. Perhaps not the most impressive result considering the competition was a bottom-table League Two side and Villa put out a relatively strong lineup, but based on the information available it seems as though it quite easily could have been far more lopsided.

What's important is of course that Villa managed to advance. I don't think even the most doubting of Thomases honestly believe that this is a team that aren't well above the level of a side such as Hereford. That's the way these early round cup ties go sometimes; small clubs with something to prove are often able to hang around for a bit, especially when they make keeping their opponent off the board a tactical priority and defend well, something Hereford was able to do by all accounts. It could certainly be worse; just ask Sunderland, Norwich City, QPR and Swansea.

Hopefully the efforts of Lichaj, Delfouneso, Bannan, Clark and did not go unnoticed by Alex McLeish and in a similar vein it would be wonderful if the positive reviews Stephen Ireland has been receiving for his performance give him a boost in confidence. The Round 3 draw takes place on Saturday and a many of the Premier League's big boys will be joining the party; here's to Villa avoiding them (and Blackburn) until later on down the line.