Defeat at home to lower league Peterborough United meant that Aston Villa exit the competition in the third round. Steve Bruce’s changed team were no match for their League One opponents.
There were no fewer than ten changes to last week’s victorious team that beat Bristol City 5-0. In his post-match assessment, Bruce admitted that he had got things wrong. Whether this is just an embarrassing blip or a confidence-crushing defeat will be seen.
Bruce was adamant that it was crucial for John Terry, James Bree and Ritchie De Laet to get playing time. It is questionable why De Laet and Bree should play. Bree was chosen at centre back which must be seen as a massive snub to Tommy Elphick. It’s understandable to give Chester a rest but leave Elphick out too?
The game started brightly and Keinan Davis scored in the eighth minute to give Aston Villa the lead. This would be the only bright spot in a dark day at Villa Park.
Peterborough were well worth their triumph. It is still worrying, despite so many changes, that a lower league side could create so many chances. Had it not been for Jed Steer, and Peterborough’s profligacy in front of goal, the gap could have been wider than 3-1.
Despite being outplayed by the League One team, Aston Villa were still 1-0 up with 15 minutes to play. It was Jack Marriott, linked to Villa as well as other clubs, that got his side back into the game. Within eight minutes, the visitors went ahead via a Ryan Tafazolli header from a corner. Chasing an equaliser, Aston Villa were hit on the counter and Marriott added the coup de grâce in injury time.
After the game, Peterborough manager Grant McCann said of his striker, “He could easily play in the Championship, maybe higher, and score goals because of his pace and all-round game.” Hopefully, Dr Tony will be able to find some money as Marriott would be an excellent addition.
The burning question will be around how Aston Villa will be affected by this result. It’s correct to point out that promotion is far more important than a cup run. However, the revenues created by one would have assisted in the delicate balancing act of compliance with Financial Fair Play.
Steve Bruce will need to pick his players up from this and get focused for next Saturday’s visit to Nottingham Forest. Having created momentum at Boro and against Bristol City, this defeat is shameful and potentially demoralising. A defeat next week would be much worse.
It just doesn’t feel like it at the moment.