Just a week removed from their 0-0 draw against Boro, Aston Villa put in nine substitutions while holding over Birkir Bjarnason and Henri Lansbury for the rematch. Middlesbrough was even more fickle only returning Ben Gibson to the lineup.
The match looked to allow Villa’s depth to attempt to get their feet underneath them. Scott Hogan was eager to put in a shift to show he deserves to pull some minutes back from the pressing Keinan Davis.
Henri Lansbury was given a chance at redemption after being sent off on a questionable challenge down the stretch of last weeks match. He was pulled from the brink after a challenge rescinded his suspension, but his inclusion in the lineup gave him the opportunity to take his own justice.
Excitingly Callum O’Hare and Jake Doyle-Hayes were given chances with the “first team” and to continue their successful progress with the squad.
The First Half
The early portion of the match allowed a few chances for Villa with Captain Tommy Elphick’s header finding its way into the goal before being called offside.
At the 25th minute Patrick Bamford of Boro beat Jed Steer and had the first best effort but put a shot off the cross bar before Villa countered.
[It was shortly after this, if you’re in the same boat as this writer, that the audio stream of AVTV went out. This phenomenon is commonly known as “missing time.” With no explanation from the club for paying subscribers, it can only be assumed that during this time our souls transcended to new existence, lived full and fulfilling lives, saw our children grow and grand-children play in fields of flowing grass before we were accepted as one with the wider and eternal universe where we took our place with the stars while listening serenely to proper football streams. We saw and knew all, and importantly, we knew is that no goals were scored between Villa and Boro in some distant and forgotten past “life.”]
Upon our return to this mortal plane, Henri Lansbury was subbed off with an apparent knee injury to make way for Ross McCormack so sadly Lansbury was unable to take advantage of his revenge tour. Halftime drew to a close after a wasted corner with Villa accomplishing zero official shots on target in what can only be assumed to be a relatively unremarkable first half.
The Second Half
After listening to the beautiful halftime music and the natural sound of Villa Park the team took the pitch to attempt to press the issue of moving onto the next Carabao round.
Middlesbrough subbed off Ben Gibson, their holdover from last week to begin the half and the lack of continuity of both squads resulted in very few opportunities to get a ball on net. It often is spoken that “styles make fights” and if that’s the case Villa and Boro play the worst possible styles for each other in the worst ways.
In the 58th minute, our Captain Tommy Elphick picked up his second yellow of the match by giving a penalty to Boro and seeing himself off the pitch. Patrick Bamford made Villa pay putting Boro up 1-0 and allowing Middlesbrough to see out the rest of the match with a man advantage.
It seemed as if Villa waved the flag as Jordan Lyden was brought on for Scott Hogan, but Callum O’Hare pulled a foul that generated a free kick and a few corners which came to naught.
Shortly after Patrick Bamford continued his top notch performance by putting in another strike to go up 2-0.
It’s with a heavy dose of hindsight to say at the 67th minute when you’re reduced to 10 men and down two goals that it would have been really fun to have gone for this win. To carry the momentum from Barnsley into this match and seeing further advancement in the cup would have been pretty cool.
The final change was made as Josh Onomah, who looks fit and ready to rejoin Championship action, was subbed off for another of our hyphenated youth, Corey Blackett-Taylor. Onomah got a good ovation and has proved he’s one of the team’s better performers.
Better performers and performances weren’t anywhere normal on this day. Very little to write home about bowing out of the Carabao at this point except again, to say that it would have been to have pushed for this. Hopefully those who will factor into first team action for the rest of the year got as much out of their participation, but its hard to tell what both thanks to the audio-only, plus the result.
The squad will return to action on Saturday against Nottingham Forest and hopefully can put in a more exciting spell now that the Championship will be the sole focus.