Aston Villa traveled to visit Colchester this evening to open their Carabao Cup run i in some similarity to last season’s game against a League Two side. Aston Villa saw nine new players into the starting lineup with Birkir Bjarnason surprisingly playing left back and Callum O’Hare breaking through to the first team.
The beginning was quite disjointed as the nine new members were acquainting themselves to their squad mates and the wet conditions. It passed on to the strange sixth minute when each teams respective keeper came into focus. Scott Hogan picked up a misplayed ball from Colchester keeper Sam Walker and fired into the net to put Villa up one. The play began with Callum O’Hare putting a great pass forward and Andre Green created enough havoc to cause Walker to put the ball back forward when he should have had it cleanly. Hogan cleaned up as is his custom.
Almost immediately Chris Samba, who had a beleaguered first half, conceded a penalty to Colchester before Jed Steer came through, lunged right, and held the Villa lead.
Frankie Kent gave Villa their second goal on a pass from Albert Adomah, who was pretty clearly offside before the play.
During this time there were some great efforts put through by Conor Hourihane who gave great service to Scott Hogan off of a free kick, though Hogan put the header wide, and our first half Man of the Match Callum O’Hare who seems up for this game and this stage.
In Normal Villa fashion, however, Colchester gained momentum, took advantage of the Villa left side of the defense and Frankie Kent atoned for himself, by getting one back on a perfect deflection in the 39th minute.
Birkir Bjarnason and Chris Samba both were saved a few times by Colchester’s overall quality and by their teammates. Bjarnason seems unfit on the unfamiliar left, which shouldn’t surprise anyone as this is his first match there. More difficult is Chris Samba who, aside from giving up the penalty, has been frequently caught out of position.
After a great beginning to the half led by newcomer Callum O’Hare, a more talented team than Colchester would probably be up. Villa will have to regain control of the match or else we could be looking at another dispiriting early showing in the EFL Cup.
And they did for the most part, before sweating out the final 15 minutes or so. Villa controlled the pace and held the cards for the most of the second half while O’Hare worked even harder to prove our undying love by just barely missing a wonder strike and staying quite active even picking up a yellow. Andre Green also earned a yellow and continued to look comfortable on the boggy left side before giving way to Ritchie de Laet in the 84th minute.
Frankie Kent for Colchester continued his remarkable play and had a clearing of the line in the 63rd minute on an Albert Adomah shot for Villas best chance to extend the lead.
The 68th minute saw former youth team member Lewis Kinsella enter the game for Colchester while Albert Adomah made way for Rushian Hepburn-Murphy and in the 72nd Keinan Davis came on for Scott Hogan to put on a full youth movement on the front for Villa for about ten minutes that perhaps coincidentally led to some of Colchester’s best attempts to draw square late.
In the 77th minute Jed Steer made a save on his near post but spilled the ball forward. Had any Colchester players been in the area, the game would have been leveled, but Villa cleared. Four minutes later, Jed again came up huge just getting a glove on a targeted strike to see off the danger, he put in a shift and has a strong claim to being the man of the match for Villa.
Chris Samba picked up his play from the first half, whereas de Laet coming on allowed James Bree to move to the left and Bjarnason a more familiar position forward on the pitch.
After breathing a sigh of relief, Villa survived while getting some valuable minutes for their young players.