Saturday 24 February 2018

Sherwood's half-time team talk helps Villa seal spot in last eight

Aston Villa 2 Leicester City 1

John Culley

Tim SHERWOOD wasted no time in making himself heard in the Villa Park dressing room and his intervention had the desired effect as Aston Villa left behind a dismal first half to clinch a place in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

It may not mean much in terms of the task he faces to keep Villa in the Premier League, but it is the start he would have wanted.

Appointed only on Saturday, the new Villa manager watched the action from the stands, with first-team coach Scott Marshall in charge of business on the pitch, but Sherwood made his thoughts known in the dressing room at half-time.

Leandro Bacuna put Villa in front with his first goal since March last year before Scott Sinclair, the on-loan Manchester City winger who had not scored a senior goal since his final appearance for Swansea in August 2012, profited from a Mark Schwarzer fumble to double their lead. Andrej Krameric headed the ball home for Leicester in stoppage time but too late to threaten Villa's progress into the last eight.

"I had a good idea that Tim would be around the dressing room at half-time," Marshall said.

"There was no big statement, but he made a couple of points and passed on some details, some suggestions that they the lads used in the second half."

Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City is tackled by Villa's Ron Vlaar
Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City is tackled by Villa's Ron Vlaar
Leicester City's Jeff Schlupp (2nd R) has words with Aston Villa's Alan Hutton
Aston Villa's Scott Sinclair (R) shoots to scores their second goal
Leicester's Mark Schwarzer reacts as the ball hits the back of the net after Scott Sinclair scores Aston Villa's winning goal

Marshall has no idea yet whether he still has a future at Villa Park, where he was appointed in June 2013, having previously worked under Sherwood's predecessor, Paul Lambert, at Norwich.

"I've not had an opportunity yet to speak to Tim about his plans but I can say 100 per cent that I'd like to stay. I would like to help in any way I can," he said.

Marshall had made five changes from the Villa side Lambert picked for his final match in charge against Hull City, where a fifth consecutive Premier League defeat prompted owner Randy Lerner to act.

Ron Vlaar returned in the middle of defence and there were places for Shay Given, Tom Cleverley, Bacuna and Christian Benteke, although Carles Gil and Gabby Agbonlahor were both ruled out by injury and Given has usually played in place of Brad Guzan in cup matches.

For 45 minutes, however, Leicester looked the more likely to take control.

Marcin Wasilewski hit the woodwork with a header and it took a superb save from Given to keep out a 25-yard rocket from Matty James.

Villa's play had greater intensity from the start of the second half, but the same old problems still existed.

Fabian Delph squandered a wonderful chance to head home a Bacuna cross and, when Schwarzer scrambled the ball away from Christian Benteke at close range, Villa fans were reminded of the woeful goalscoring statistics - just 12 in 25 Premier League matches - that Sherwood will need to correct.

The breakthrough came after 68 minutes. Bacuna, who was about to be taken off by Marshall, cut inside Danny Simpson after being allowed time and space on the left and unleashed a wonderful, curling shot beyond the reach of Schwarzer.

Villa fans were able to rest easy when Sinclair doubled their lead a minute from the end of normal time, going past Simpson before drilling the ball low at the Leicester goalkeeper, who somewhat bundled the ball into his own net.

(© Independent News Service)

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