With Aston Villa in attendance, the prospect of facing a Premier League outfit allowed League 2 AFC Barrow to enjoy their record home attendance as over 4,000 fans (600 of them being Villans) witnessed the potential of a giant-killing, which was swiftly removed as the away side ran out competent winners.
Jed Steer: 6/10
The Aston Villa goalkeeper served the vast majority of proceedings with the ball being played in the opposition end of the pitch. On the rare occasion the goalkeeper was called in to action, danger was averted with minimum fuss as was the case in just two instances. Despite this, the goalkeeper struggled when tasked with retaining possession as he completed just 62% of his passes and made only eight successful long kicks out of twenty attempted; subsequently haltering any attempt of dictating possession for the away side.
Frederic Guilbert: 8/10
With the frozen-out Frenchman recalled to the squad by manager Dean Smith, the right-back (who spent last season showcasing his abilities for French side, Strasbourg) was eager to impress in order to salvage his career in claret and blue. Due to the dominance of the away side, it was the defenders attacking attributes in which shone in victory, providing an assist to complete a swift passing move, whilst his goal came late in the second half as a powerful effort with his weaker foot found the net.
Axel Tuanzebe: 6/10
Having arrived at Villa Park for his third loan spell with the club, with the intention of playing first team football minutes, the Manchester United loanee was handed an opportunity to break through the strong mould of Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa against a physical front line of League 2 opposition, Barrow. With three clearances and three interceptions, the twenty-three-year-old nullified the threat of Offrande Zanzala, with his only real effort of note against Tuanzebe involving the attacker dribbling past him before hitting the stadium’s light with a wayward shot, causing it to hang loose…
Kortney Hause: 6/10
The former Wolverhampton Wanderers defender showed his physical ability, winning twelve from twelve aerial duels, four interceptions, three clearances, and finishing with a 90% ground duel win rate. However, careless ball retention was a struggle for the centre-back as he lost possession no less than eighteen times.
Matt Targett: 6/10
Having been axed from the starting line-up in the Premier League, the left-back would have been keen to ensure his place was won back with competitive fixtures approaching his side thick and fast. However, the former Southampton defender endured a quiet ninety minutes, with an 80% pass completion rate and two key passes. Targett lost possession on twenty-four occasions and completed just three of his fourteen attempted long balls.
Marvelous Nakamba: 7/10
The Zimbabwean midfielder endured a 95% pass completion rate, with a 100% successful dribble rate, 100% aerial duels rate, a 94% ground duels rate, and only conceded possession a staggering four times.
Conor Hourihane: 8/10
With rumors of the midfielder’s future lying away from B6, the Irishman will have been keen to impress on a rare appearance for Dean Smith’s side. An impressive range of passing showcased his ability to swiftly transition play into the oppositions half, which quickly became apparent with a pass up field that subsequently opened the scoring for his side. Bearing a 92% pass completion rate and 100% tackle completion, the midfielder enjoyed a dominant display occupying a deeper role.
Carney Chukwuemeka: 6/10
Occupying the number eight role, the youngster fed play through striking a telling partnership with striker, Cameron Archer, breaking through the opposition defence on more than one occasion. As the score line grew more in the visitor’s favour, the youngster grew in confidence as he became confident enough to have an effort of his own, with the final destination being off target. With just under a quarter of an hour to go, Carney was emotionally substituted for recently signed brother, Caleb; in what would have been a heart-warming moment for the Chukwuemeka family.
Jaden Philogene-Bidace: 7/10
After a sterling pre-season, winning many plaudits for his energetic and fearless character, some fans were disappointed to not see the youngster handed his first Premier League start. However, his training performances and brief substitute spell against Newcastle United earned him his place in the starting eleven on this occasion as he looked to continue impressing. His blistering pace and trickery earned his side a penalty in the first half and once converted by Anwar El Ghazi, subsequently ended any hope of a cup upset at 2-0.
The tricky winger continued to cause nightmares for the opposition defence, moving the ball forward with aplomb and was unlucky not to add himself to the score sheet as he picked the ball up one-on-one with the keeper and when trying to go round him, failed to take it far enough in which allowed the keeper to push it away from danger before Frederic Guilbert lashed home the rebound.
Anwar El Ghazi: 9/10
Although some would suggest Aston Villa were giants against League 2 opposition, try telling that to Anwar El Ghazi who converted a penalty with the use of a cheeky Panenka, before scoring his brace on the volley as he shushed the home crowd in ironic fashion. The wide midfielder didn’t stop there though and was involved in two more of his teams’ goals as he provided two well-weighted assists for his teammate before being brought off and preserved for his side’s Premier League clash at the weekend.
Cameron Archer: 10/10
Cameron Archer became just the second youngest Aston Villa goal scorer during manager Dean Smith’s tenure, whilst becoming the second youngest midfielder to score a brace in the company of none other than James Milner — completing his hat-trick and becoming just the second youngest Aston Villa player to score a professional hat-trick for the club behind Juan Pablo Angel. A dream day for the twenty-year-old as he received the match ball after play and will no doubt go down as a night he will cherish for the rest of his career.