Aston Villa left it late as they beat League 1 side Burton Albion 1-3 at the Pirelli Stadium tonight. Dean Smith’s men will meet the winners of the Bristol City v Northampton game in the third round of the EFL Cup.
Smith opted for a mix of first team players and fringe players when naming his team sheet as they prepare for their Premier League opener against Sheffield United on Monday. Orjan Nyland was named between the sticks with a back four of Neil Taylor, Tyrone Mings, Kortney Hause and Ahmed Elmohamady. There was a first start for youngster Jacob Ramsey as he lined up along side Henri Lansbury, Jack Grealish, Anwar El Ghazi and Marvelous Nakamba. New record signing Ollie Watkins started up top.
Burton were quick out of the blocks
Burton were quick out the blocks when they took the lead after just 64 seconds. Ryan Edwards turned and crossed a low ball across the goal where Colin Daniel slotted home with his right foot.
As the half continued, Villa worked their way back into the game and were soon level. Jack Grealish was awarded a new five-year-contract today and showed his class where he attracted three Burton players before slipping Taylor through.
The Welsh defender played the ball across the 6-yard box for Watkins to score his first goal in a competitive match (and his second in two games following his goal in the 1-0 victory in a friendly against Manchester United on Saturday).
Watkins movement was clear to see as he consistently got himself in goalscoring positions throughout the game and he would have been disappointed not to double his tally just before the break.
Once again Grealish the creator when he beat two Burton players and laid the ball off to Watkins who hit the crossbar from close range.
It was clear that Burton looked more match fit than Villa but Villa took control of the game as the home side dropped deeper and deeper.
Just as it looked like the tie would be heading towards a penalty shoot-out Grealish gave Villa the lead with two minutes left on the clock.
Lansbury with a great delivery from a corner found Grealish on the edge of the box who volleyed past Teddy Sharmen-Lowe.
A few minutes later Villa killed the game off and any hope Burton had of getting back into the game. Two substitutes combined when Douglas Luiz played a beautiful through ball for Keinan Davis who closed in on Sharmen-Lowe before slotting to the keepers right.
We will no doubt see a much different Villa side when we take on Sheffield United next Monday but there will be positives that Smith will take from this game. Match fitness has improved and Villa have put their name into the next round of the EFL Cup.