It wasn’t always pretty, but Villa overcome Colchester (2-1) in atrocious conditions to reach the 2nd Round of the League Cup.
The squad featured rotation and surprises aplenty with appearances for Steer, De Laet, O’Hare & De Laet.
Birkir Bjarnason also found himself in unfamiliar territory at left back, deputising for Jordan Amavi following a late withdrawal due to his imminent departure from Villa Park.
Steer (9) (MOTM)
Whilst it’s telling that our goalkeeper should be the outstanding player on the night against lower league opposition, that would do a disservice to a fine individual performance. In awful conditions, Steer produced a number of tidy saves in the first half including saving a penalty. The second half saw Steer produce an outstanding save to tip a deflected effort around the post. The save came as Villa clung to a slim lead and ultimately saw us over the line.
A strong overall display from the right back who linked well with Adomah, despite the pitch deteriorating around him with standing water. Bree is a tireless runner and never shirks a challenge, with his sliding tackle enabling the break with lead to the second Villa goal.
A steady if unremarkable performance from the centre half, as is typical of his style of play. Covered for Samba repeatedly in the first half and was always showed for the ball when others were under pressure.
A dreadful first half left many wondering whether the highs of pre-season might have seen us drop a major clanger. Samba struggled with both the pace and movement of the strikers and was guilty of conceding a penalty just moments after we’d taken the lead. A clumsy, hapless attempt to get the ball saw the referee have no choice but to award a spotkick. Samba redeemed himself as the second half grew more fraught however, with at least 2 towering headers as Colchester threw the kitchen sink in the closing stages. Whilst not necessarily cultured, the man-mountain cut an immense figure in a defence accustomed to conceding late equalisers.
Birkir was the unfortunate fall guy for the news that Jordan Amavi was withdrawn from the squad ahead of a proposed move away from Villa Park. Bjarnason struggled all night playing an unfamiliar role in deteriorating conditions. The Icelandic midfielder did though struggle particularly with his touch and was guilty of poor judgement in the closing stages of the 1st half, permitting an unforced run on goal for the hosts. Harsh to judge him given the ask of him tonight, but offered little with which to cling to either.
Adomah (6) (Subbed 69 mins)
Forced the own goal from a cross which lead to Villa’s second goal, and chipped away for the best part of an hour with mixed success. Adomah operates a frustrating game of percentages, with countless repeated attempts at the same thing that sooner or later pay off with a chance or a goal. A limited supply line for the strikers on a night where you’d have thought a ball in the air may reap greater rewards.
Hepburn-Murphy (-) (Sub on 69 min)
A low key appearance for the highly regarded young striker. Contributed a tame effort on goal and some willing youthful legs in the closing stages, but little else of note.
Another peripheral display from a player who promised so much on his arrival from Barnsley. Whilst he enjoyed short spells of effectiveness during the game, Hourihane cuts a man without a purpose or a clear role. Whether it was a measure of the weather, unfamiliar faces around him or the tactics he must to adhere to, the Irishman is starting to become a real head scratcher.
A composed and mature performance from the Spurs loanee. Onomah displayed great control and a desire to move the play forward, particularly in the first half. The second half saw him work hard in a lightweight midfield, despite fading in and out at times. An encouraging display, which underlines the rationale and thinking behind offloading the less competent Aaron Tshibola to MK Dons.
Green (5) (Subbed 85 mins)
The promising winger struggled all evening, often running obvious dead ends instead of releasing the ball or trying something different. He cut a frustrated figure and was booked for a soft reaction in the second half. Over-ran the ball for Villa’s opener, but his perseverance led to the Colchester keeper spilling to Scott Hogan for the opener. Not a vintage night on the whole though.
De Laet (-) (Sub on 85 mins)
A welcome return to the right back who had his season cut short last term through serious injury. Was fortunate to escape another after being caught with a reckless challenge. An experienced option to have at our disposal, particularly as he can play at centre half.
An exciting and intriguing debut from the diminutive O’Hare. Repeatedly drove the play forward, neat interplay, good control and a desire to get a shot off early. All very promising and his efforts genuinely stood out at times. Guilty of a poor challenge in the second half after losing possession for which he received a yellow card, and faded badly in the latter stages. A very promising debut and one to give Bruce a welcome head-ache when considering upcoming squad selections.
Hogan (6) (Subbed 73 mins)
The big money striker is another who its hard to form an opinion upon. At times Hogan looks isolated or completely out of the action, whilst at others it’s hard to determine that his movement is simply starved of service. Despite this, he collected a true strikers goal, poaching on the Colchester keepers spill for the opener. Got his goal, but little else of any great note to reflect upon for a player who seems totally underutilised.
Davis (-) (Sub on 73 mins)
Provided an out-ball and legs in the latter stages, but we saw little of the directness witnessed in the latter stages of last season. Nothing to judge upon tonight as Villa looked to close the game out in dreadful conditions.