Yeovil Town 0-1 Aston Villa Six Things: Glovers exit with pride

Darren Way –

League Two Yeovil Town put in an extremely competitive performance in their EFL Cup First Round clash with Championship side Aston Villa on Tuesday night, but fell to a 1-0 defeat in front of the Sky Sports cameras due to Conor Hourihane’s late goal. Here’s six things from the game.

Yeovil’s presence felt

Darren Way’s side started at a high-intensity, pressing intelligently early on. They played simplistic balls down the right, hoping to get lively forward Diallang Jaiyesimi in behind Villa’s midfield to expose the aggressive positioning of Axel Tuanzebe, who was forced into a last-ditch block to deny the Norwich loanee after he had rounded Andre Moreira. Alex Fisher had two of the best first half chances; his curler was stopped by Moreira, before the Oxford-born forward had a snapshot well blocked on the line by Tuanzebe. Shortly before the end of an excellent first half from The Glovers, they should have led through Jaiyesimi but had the goal dubiously disallowed for an apparent foul by Gary Warren on Glenn Whelan.

One-dimensional Villa

The only quick players in Villa’s starting eleven at Huish Park – Ritchie De Laet, Albert Adomah and Andre Green – are all right-footed, so naturally their play gravitated towards the right channel. Green was on the left on paper but he often drifted into central areas – where he forced a good save from Nathan Baxter from distance – and even into the right channel – where he set up Villa’s best first-half chance. The 19-year-old latched onto Jake Doyle-Hayes decent link-up play by pulling the ball back for Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, but the latter couldn’t quite make the right connection after a move made solely by academy graduates. However, Villa’s conservatism down the left due to full-back Neil Taylor’s lack of pace, made them easy to read at times and the tireless Sessi D’Almeida did a great job of shutting down some of the away side’s approach play.

Fisher pays the price

Yeovil centre-back Omar Sowunmi had posed a constant threat from long throws and set pieces; Tommy Elphick felt compelled to hold his shirt, conceding a penalty. Alex Fisher’s spot-kick, however – although reasonably well-placed – lacked the power to beat Moreira. The Atletico Madrid loanee completed a positive debut with that save and made a case to start Villa’s next league clash at Ipswich.

Villa’s game-changers

Once big-hitters Jonathan Kodjia and Jack Grealish entered the fray, the away side looked a different proposition. Grealish hit the bar with a delightful long-range effort within five minutes of coming on and he almost single-handedly brought Villa into prominence. Kodjia was influential, too: he showed good movement to get in behind Carl Dickinson, then fine skill to beat Gary Warren before rolling the ball across goal for Conor Hourihane to tap home the winner.

Can the Glovers challenge?

Yeovil put in a gallant display tonight and, although they remain winless in three in all competitions, they have put in strong performances against reasonable standards of opposition. The grit and desire every player showed to challenge for loose balls, cover their teammates and put their bodies on the line should be a source of immense pride for supporters. The task of challenging for a place in the top half of League Two could be tricky with a modest budget, but tonight showed that Sowunmi and D’Almeida among others have the capacity to be among the best players in that division. Repeat that intensity consistently and the West Country outfit can Achieve By Unity.

Villans yet to convince

It was a victory Villa’s play for much of the contest simply did not deserve. Saturday’s trip to Ipswich hands them an opportunity to reach nine points, meaning tonight’s contest was not of major importance and that was evident on the pitch. This performance wouldn’t be problematic if the first team was dominating league games but they have not looked convincing in victories over likely bottom half outfits, Hull and Wigan. While the B6 side have had on paper their best start to a season in 56 years, fans could be forgiven for not wanting to celebrate the fortuitous history-makers too keenly.