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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 02 Jan 10 at 17:37 PM

Report: Aston Villa 3 Rovers 1

Rovers just have the Carling Cup to concentrate on after they went down 3-1 at Villa Park.

First half goals from Nathan Delfouneso and Carlos Cuellar put the home side in command, and then Rovers' task was made much harder when David Dunn saw his spot kick saved and then El-Hadji Diouf saw a straight red card for a crude challenge on Habib Beye just before the break.

But too their credit ten-man Rovers rolled up their sleeves and found a way back into the match ten minutes after the restart. A corner kick from Morten Gamst Pedersen was fumbled by Brad Guzan and Niko Kalinić took full advantage.

Pedersen and Kalinić combined again as a nervy Villa started to wobble, but the young Croatia fired inches wide.

But in added time the home side restored their two-goal advantage when substitute John Carew scored from the spot after he had been fouled by Gaël Givet in the box.

There was no time for a reply, meaning all thoughts move to Tuesday night when the two sides do battle at Ewood Park.

Watch the match highlights on Rovers Player

With the more important Carling Cup semi-final between the two sides it was no surprise that both managers made plenty of changes for this FA Cup 3rd round tie.

Rovers made nine with just Gaël Givet and Pascal Chimbonda retaining their places from the side that faced Sunderland. Whilst Villa made seven changes from their last outing against Liverpool.

Rovers were slow out of the blocks and paid heavily for their lethargic start.

After just two minutes Villa striker Nathan Delfouneso wasted a great chance to give the home side the lead when he could only head straight at Jason Brown when well placed.

Martin O'Neill's side continued to threaten from a series of set-plays and it came as no surprise that it would be from one of those that the deadlock would be broken.

Ashley Young with a centre from the right where Nathan Delfouneso redeemed himself of his area error by arriving to head past a static Rovers defence and the helpless Jason Brown in goal.

In a low key atmosphere there was little on show to raise the spirits in the drizzle. But what there was always came from the home side.

David Dunn lost out to Nigel Reo-Coker before Delfouneso found the fleet-footed Young racing through on goal but Brown did well to stop the shot from the England winger with his legs.

Aside from promising runs from Martin Olsson and Dunn and good hold up play by Nikola Kalinić and Franco Di Santo, there was little else to delight the small but hardy travelling support until just past the half hour when they were given an unexpected way back into the game.

The best passing of the game thus far saw Rovers earn themselves a penalty, Steven Reid holding off the attentions of Nigel Reo-Coker to find Michel Salgado out wide, he looked for the midfielder with a return pass only for Reid to be pulled to the ground by his marker.

Referee Howard Webb had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

So up stepped David Dunn, the man who had given Rovers all three points from the spot when the two sides met back in September. But up against a different Brad in goal, Guzan, not Frield, he failed to make his mark as his side-footed effort was pushed aside easily by Guzan.

They were made to pay for the miss when Villa doubled their lead on 37 minutes. Again it was Ashley Young who delivered, his ball finding the fast arriving Carlos Cuellar who glanced the ball into the corner of the net.

It was all so simple for the home side and it was about to get a whole lot easier when Rovers were reduced to ten men just before the break. As Villa looked to maintain possession in the right corner, El-Hadji Diouf flew in on Habib Beye to gain the ball but only took the man.

The crowd wanted red and that was what referee Howard Jones showed. The former Senegal international had to sulk his way to the dressing room.

The home side started the second has they had ended the first with Ashley Young threading the ball through to Emile Heskey just three minutes after the restart. The England striker took the ball around the advancing Brown but Givet slid in to make a vital tackle.

Two goals and a man down, and with an unfamiliar team line-up, Rovers could have folded but to their credit they found a way back into the game.

Moments after David Dunn, back after injury, had made way for Zurab Khizanishvili. Fellow substitute Morten Gamst Pedersen sent over a corner kick from the right that saw Villa's other American goalkeeper Brad Guzan drop the ball and Niko Kalinić pounced for his third goal of the season.

Pedersen and Kalinić combined once again ten minutes later. The Norwegian delivering a wonderful through ball to the Croatian but from a tight angle he fired past Guzan but inches wide of the far post.

With the home crowd adding to the nerves on the pitch Rovers looked to take advantage. Bringing on striker Maceo Rigters for a rare runout and switching to a 3-4-2 formation with the lively Martin Olsson and Pascal Chimbonda operating as wingers.

Olsson was particularly impressive, one high ball aimed for Kalinić was just claimed by Guzan at the back post.

Sensing a nervy ending Martin O'Neill brought on John Carew for young striker Delfouneso and the Norwegian almost made an immediate impact when he headed narrowly over from a corner kick.

But as the game entered added time Carew would have the last say. Brought down in the area by a clumsy challenge from Givet, he sent Brown the wrong way from the resulting spot-kick.

All attention now turns to Tuesday evening and the first leg in the semi-final of the Carling Cup.

ASTON VILLA: Guzan, Beye, Cuellar, Collins, Warnock, A. Young, Delph (sub Sidwell 46 mins), Reo-Coker, Downing, Heskey, Delfouneso (sub Carew 75 mins).

Subs not used: Friedel, L. Young, Dunne, Albrighton, Petrov.

ROVERS: Brown, Chimbonda, Jones, Givet, Olsson, Salgado (sub Rigters 76 mins), Dunn (sub Khizanishvili 55 mins), Reid, Diouf, Kalinić, Di Santo (sub Pedersen 45 mins).

Subs not used: Robinson (GK), Doran, Hoilett, Gunning.

Booked: Reo-Coker (Aston Villa), Salgado (Rovers).

Off: Diouf (Rovers)

Attendance: 25,453

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