Aston Villa is in the hat for the Carabao Cup second round draw after winning at Huish Park by a goal to nil. Conor Hourihane struck with ten minutes remaining to dash the hopes of Darren Way’s valiant Yeovil side.
Steve Bruce was left fuming in his post-match interview as he described his disappointment in his side’s performance, whilst adding he was correct not involve too much youth in previous squads. However, Bruce spoke highly of Andre Moreira’s debut in goal, with the on-loan Portuguese goalkeeper saving a penalty before Villa broke the deadlock. In front of Moreira started Ritchie De Laet, Tommy Elphick, Axel Tuanzebe and Neil Taylor, with Glenn Whelan shielding the backline. Match-winner Hourihane and Jake Doyle-Hayes occupied the midfield positions behind Andre Green, Albert Adomah and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy.
A blend of youth and experience endured an uneventful first half, where mistakes were a common theme, in what felt a pre-season game rather than a cup tie. Young Doyle-Hayes and Green both lost the ball early on through loose passes which helped stimulate a confident Yeovil side to attack a much altered Villa backline who looked uncomfortable dealing with the pace and power of Diallaing Jaiyesimi and Alex Fisher combining at the top of the Yeovil attack.
Frustrated of being frozen out of the first elven in the first home tie of the new campaign, Hourihane was a man on a mission to play his way back into contention. Although he didn’t make the impression when he received a yellow card on the twentieth minute for an accumulation of fouls. His latter – preventing a counterattack – saved a dangerous counter-attack on Tommy Elphick.
Whilst neither side looked threatening with the ball, the first sight at goal came through an inventive move from the visitors when Adomah and Doyle-Hayes neatly combined on the right flank to make space for the oncoming Green. On the by-line, he accurately squared to Hepburn-Murphy waiting twelve yards from goal. The nineteen-year-old, who was instrumental to the under twenty-three side’s success last season, couldn’t convert his previous heroics in the first team as he failed to connect with the cross.
Looking lively, Rushian demonstrated his technical capabilities when his first touch gave him half a yard to work in a congested area as youth teammate Doyle-Hayes picked him out with a forward pass. However, his chance to strike on goal was denied by six foot four centre-half Omar Sowunmi.
As the hosts rode the brief storm posed by a youthful forward line, it was the tried and trusted the experience of Yeovil’s forwards who caused problems for Villa. Tuanzebe cleared off the line after Fisher recycled a direct ball from Sessi D’Almeida into the box. Only moments later, the on-loan Manchester United defender again came to Villa’s rescue as Jaiyesimi raced through on goal. Thwarted by Moreira, the ball squirmed underneath the Portuguese where Axel cleared to safety.
In a half of very little invention and quality, Green sparked life into a dull performance. As the winger wriggled away from Alex Pattison from twenty yards out, he shifted the ball onto his favourable right side and drew a top save from Nathan Baxter. The on-loan Chelsea ‘keeper kept the scores even at half-time.
Yet, Yeovil boss, Way, was left bemused at John Brooks’ decision to rule out Jaiyesimi scrappy goal before the half-time whistle blew. A Yeovil corner resulted in a melee in the Villa box before on-loan Norwich striker tapped in at the back post. Yet, referee Brooks ruled the goal out after judging that Whelan was fouled by Yeovil’s Gary Warren.
Questionable officiating grew into the second period as Conor Hourihane was adamant he’d won a penalty for the visitors. The Irishman’s strike on goal was blocked by Warren’s arm – an intended intervention from the Yeovil skipper.
Typical Bruce, cometh the hour, cometh the changes. Jack Grealish and Jonathan Kodjia added the much-needed quality in order to swing the balance of play Villa’s way. However, their impact was made to wait as it was Moreira who’d rile the visitors to victory.
After Tuanzebe committed a needless foul on the left flank, the resulting free-kick led to the opportunity Yeovil where waiting for as Elphick dragged Sowunmi to the ground. Imposing his large figure, Moreira held onto a poor Fisher penalty.
Since being given the life-line Villa needed, the quality of the away fans was crying out for appearing in the likely form of Grealish. Shimmying past D’Almeida, he opened top onto his right side and bent one past Baxter, only for the woodwork to save him and Yeovil.
Whilst the gulf in class wasn’t obvious throughout, the abundance of quality finally showed on the eightieth minute as Kodjia cleverly deceived Warren on the right wing. With space to run into, the Ivorian chose to use Hourihane at the back post to seal their place in the next round.