MATCH REPORT: Aston Villa 2 Ipswich Town 1
Aston Villa v Ipswich: A MUCH-CHANGED Ipswich Town put in a spirited display Aston Villa, but exited the FA Cup at the first hurdle after their Premier League hosts scored twice in the second half to secure a comeback victory.
After seeing out a difficult start to the match, Town took the lead in the 31st minute when good work from Michael Chopra forced defender Eric Lichaj into an own goal.
Ex-Blues striker Darren Bent produced a typically clinical one-one-one finish within 40 seconds of the restart though, with Villa ramping up the pressure as the likes of Andreas Weimann and Gabby Agbonlahor were introduced off the bench.
Town looked to have ridden the storm and almost snatched a second themselves against the run of play when Shay Given produced a brilliant one-handed stop from substitute Aaron McLean in the 79th minute.
It looked like Town might be able to force a replay, but Villa found their winner eight minutes from time when Weimann produced a fantastic glancing header from Joe Bennett’s cross to finally beat keeper Scott Loach’s resistance.
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Loach – starting his first game under Mick McCarthy due to Stephen Henderson’s unavailability – had pulled off a string of excellent saves throughout the match.
The boyhood Blues had done well to save from Jordan Bowry moments before Town’s opener and pulled off a brilliant low stop from a bullet Ciaran Clark header at 1-0.
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His opposite number Shay Given was also in fine form though and it took a good stop from the veteran Irishman to prevent Chopra giving the Blues a 2-0 half-time lead.
Loanee centre-back Patrick Kisnorbo looked solid on his Town debut, while new front duo David McGoldrick and Aaron McLean showed some encouraging signs off the bench.
Teenage right-back Elliott Hewitt – making his first ever start above League Two level – was also a major bright spot for the Blues as he got to grips with the likes of Charles N’Zogbia and Agbonlahor.
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ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Given; Clark (cpt), Bennett, Baker, Lichaj; Bannan, Delph, Albrighton (Weimann 44), N’Zogbia (Ireland 70); Bent, Bowry (Agbonlahor 63).
Subs: Guzan, Benteke, Stevens, Carruthers.
IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Loach; Hewitt, Kisnorbo, Smith (cpt), Cresswell; Emmanuel-Thomas (McGoldrick 61), Hyam, Reo-Coker, Martin; Chopra (McLean 75), Murphy (Edwards 70).
Subs: Lee-Barrett, Chambers, Whight, N’Daw.
Attendance: 24,854 (2,900)
Referee: Mr J Moss