Colchester 1-2 Aston Villa Six Things: valiant U’s

Steer saves Mandron’s pen –

Aston Villa edged into the League Cup 2nd Round thanks to a narrow 2-1 win at Colchester – but what are the key talking points from the match? Here’s our six.

Colchester’s early blow

There were signs in the first five minutes that the hosts would compete well, pressing intelligently with Tom Lapslie covering all bases in midfield. One team ‘lapse’ in concentration though saw debutant Callum O’Hare find space and after he slipped through to Andre Green, Sam Walker spilled the ball to Scott Hogan, who was on hand to angle it home. Not only did the U’s fall behind, they missed the chance to level moments later when Mikael Mandron’s weak penalty was saved by Jed Steer after Chris Samba’s clumsy challenge.

Villa’s handy right side

The visitors caused problems when James Bree and Albert Adomah combined down the flank. Kyel Reid, a winger by trade, was picked to start at wing-back but lacked the defensive awareness that was required for the role, especially against higher league opposition. The result was a yawning chasm between Reid and left centre-back Cole Kpekawa, allowing Adomah a lot of space. The winger aimed for Hogan in the centre on 19 minutes but his cross was inadvertently deflected in by Frankie Kent, who was trying to block the delivery.

Colchester’s system switch

In fairness to John McGreal, he noticed that Reid wasn’t performing as a left wing-back and changed the system to suit. Kpekawa fared better when moved to the left of a back-four and the new-found stability allowed Drey Wright and Sammie Szmodics to link-up, the former setting up the latter for a near-post effort that was saved by Steer. Reid, now deployed as a winger, had the attacking influence he was capable of. He ran at Bree more often and, on 39 minutes, his goalbound effort was sharply touched home by centre-back Kent, who showed a striker’s instinct – at the right end, this time.

Villa’s chances

This match will be remembered as a nervy one for the Villans, but it need not have been had they been more ruthless early in the second half. Adomah again got into good areas and had two efforts within a minute, one saved and another cleared off the line while Hourihane and O’Hare also came close.

Subs nearly swung it

After a period of Villa pressure, Bruce decided that his team without Adomah and Hogan would be good enough to see out the game comfortably. Adomah especially was missed as his replacement, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, showed pace but did not do as much defensive work to protect James Bree. This change, combined with wing-back Lewis Kinsella’s entry for the U’s, meant they had a lot of joy down the left flank in the closing stages. Kinsella delivered two excellent balls into the box, which went unrewarded, while Sammie Szmodics forced a fine left-handed stop from Steer.

In summary

The match finished with positives for both teams. Villa move through to the next round injury-free, having made nine changes from the Hull game. Colchester meanwhile, did themselves proud. They created a lot of chances and made a team two divisions above them rather nervous.