Aston Villa are without a win in their last four after tasting defeat at the Pirelli Stadium after a 1-0 defeat to Burton. Nigel Clough’s men handed Villa their first loss of the season through a Liam Boyce strike early in the second half.
Albert Adomah missed from the penalty spot before eclipsing his standards – skying from all of two yards after debutant Harry Campbell saved in the Burton goal.
Steve Bruce chose to make big changes by handing Andre Moreira his second appearance in the EFL Cup. Tommy Elphick and James Bree started as centre-backs. Ritchie De Laet – according to reports – interests Darren Moore’s West Bromwich Albion but started with Neil Taylor as the two wing backs behind Anwar El Ghazi and Albert Adomah on the flanks. The versatile Axel Tuanzebe sat deep allowing Conor Hourihane and Henri Lansbury to play further forward. With the hope, they’d link with Rushian Hepburn-Murphy… which they didn’t.
Two shots on goal all night sum up the performance, which was an unacceptable display. In front of over two thousand away fans, packed in the East Stand. Without a plan or pattern to our play, both El Ghazi and Hepburn-Murphy hardly had a kick as long balls where aimlessly sent over the Burton midfield – as if we lacked the quality to break Burton Albion down.
Tuanzebe and Lansbury both struck wildly over the bar to close an uneventful first period without a shot on target. Even if the hosts had to replace Stephen Bywater for youngster Harry Campbell due to injury.
No changes after the break
No changes were made at the break for Villa with only Ahmed Elmohamady to chose from an attacking point of view. Even if things looked like they couldn’t get worse after the dross dished up in the first 45. Liam Boyce made sure they could, striking on the fiftieth minute. After losing the ball deep in our own half, the twenty-seven-year-old cashed in on poor defending as Elphick’s attempt at blocking the ball looped over the helpless Moreira.
Hourihane’s weak header from ten yards was as good as it got for Villa as Adomah did well to stand up a cross from the right flank. After an awful performance with players out of position from the start, Adomah was gifted two opportunities to bail Villa out of jail. Firstly, a tame penalty kick was saved by young ‘keeper Campbell before the rebound was again missed by Adomah – somehow.
A vast improvement must be seen on Saturday as Sheffield United host at Brammal Lane. The Yorkshire club won 3-0 at high flying Bolton at the weekend, and with a weeks rest it’ll prove a difficult test for a out of form Villa side.
Another tricky tie awaits seven days later as we then travel to Blackburn, another side bang in form. Without winning either could open a gap of at-least eight points at the top, and with an international break looming, one wonders if NSWE will assess their options – even this early.