Just under 2,000, Aston Villa supporters made the 156 mile trip to Essex to see Steve Bruce’s men take on Colchester United in round one of the Carabao Cup tonight.
There was doubt over whether or not the game would take place following several hours of rain in Colchester prior to kick off but the game went ahead after three pitch inspections.
Bruce decided to make no fewer than 9 changes that including handing a debut to youngster Calum O’Hare after he impressed in pre-season.
It just took 7 minutes for the away side to take the lead with the most peculiar of goals.
O’Hare slides Andre Green through into the box but before he gets a foot to it, the Colchester goalkeeper, Sam Walker comes out to collect but he slips on the soaking wet surface and the ball falls lose to a waiting Scott Hogan who slots home.
The home side did have some protests that the goalkeeper was fouled but TV replays confirmed that the no contact was made and the referee got it spot on.
Just a minute later Colchester was awarded a penalty when a clumsy challenge from Chris Samba brought down Sammie Szmodics. Mikael Madron steps up but is denied by Jed Steer in the Villa goal.
Bruce’s men then doubled their lead on 19 minutes when Albert Adomah puts in a cross from the right-hand side which Frankie Kent tries to clear for a corner but he can only watch on as the ball slides into the goal.
The home side once again had an opportunity to pull one back right after Villa scored. Mandron and Szmodics once again link up but another fine save from Steer denies Colchester.
Just before the 40th minute, Colchester got themselves back right back in the game. From a corner, the ball falls out to Kyle Reid on the edge of the box who shoots and Kent gets his foot to it who takes it past Steer.
The two sides went in at a very wet Weston Homes Community Stadium with Villa leading 2-1. Colchester can consider themselves very unlucky to find themselves behind, who I felt were the better side despite losing at half time.
Colchester emerged in the second half having made a tactical change. John McGreal swapped his formation from a 3-4-1-2 formation to a standard 4-4-2.
Villa comes close first in the second half when O’hare back heels an Onomah pass into the feet of Hogan who then twists through the Colchester defence only to see his tame effort saved by Walker.
Another chance fell to the away side just after the hour mark. Conor Hourihane is denied by Walker as he pokes the ball to the feet of Hogan who turns and finds Adomah. He then shoots but is denied Cameron James who clears the ball off the line.
A couple of seconds later Adomah comes close again but is denied by a good save at the top corner.
Rushain Hepburn-Murphy is introduced on 69 minutes replacing Adomah.
Colchester started to put pressure on Villa’s narrow lead and was awarded a free-kick with 13 minutes to play in the right-hand corner after Bjarnason clattered into Jackson. Former Villan, Lewis Kinsella whips in the resulting free kick but Steer gets a hand to it and then pushes it into space with his feet.
Just minutes later the home side comes close again. They counter-attack following a Villa attack and Jackson finds Szmodics. He then fires a well-hit shot towards the goal but once again he is denied by Steer.
Villa fans couldn’t help but have thoughts of last seasons defeat to Luton Town in the same competition come into their minds with less than 10 minutes left to play.
Late on both Kinsella and Denny Johnstone cause the Villa defence problems but they continue to hang on as they try a kill the game off by slowing down play.
The home side is then awarded a free kick with 30 seconds left to play on the clock. The urge all their players forward but Kinsella gets it all wrong and kicks the ball straight out of play.
It wasn’t pretty yet again from Aston Villa but they will wipe the brow and move on as their names are in the hat for the next round.
Jed Steer is the reason why Villa avoided an embarrassing defeat for his penalty stop and many fantastic saves. Callum O’Hare will take more plaudits as he impressed once again.
Next up is Cardiff. Join us on the avillafan forums and give your views on tonights win over Colchester.