Millwall make it a week to forget for Villa
Milwall 2 Aston Villa 1:Aston Villa’s wretched week just got worse, as Millwall came from behind to deservedly knock Paul Lambert’s team out of the FA Cup. Darren Bent put the visitors in front in the 22nd minute but they held that lead for just five minutes before their fragility from set-pieces resurfaced and Danny Shittu headed an equaliser from a corner. Their marking remained shoddy throughout and Millwall made them pay again in the 89th minute, when John Marquis nodded in the winning goal.
Paul Lambert considered this match significant enough that he fielded seven of the players who started Tuesday’s night inglorious League Cup elimination by Bradford City.
The omission of the striker Christian Benteke was the one major concession to the looming showdown with Newcastle. Bent made his first start since the victory over Ipswich Town in the previous round and was partnered up front by Andreas Weimann.
Millwall showed guile, with Liam Feeney and Liam Trotter bringing tidy touches and nimble running to midfield. However, it was the direct running of Weimann that enabled Villa to make a breakthrough. Feeney lost possession in midfield and Weimann hared forward, leaving Shittu behind, before unleashing a low shot from 20 yards. Davide Forde made rather a meal of blocking it and allowed the ball to bobble to Bent, who scuffed it into the net from 12 yards.
Set pieces remains a regular source of panic for Villa and Millwall took advantage within five minutes. First Shittu headed a corner just over the bar, then he was allowed another chance and duly powered a header into the net from six yards.
Jamie Henry volleyed wide from 15 yards after one ineffective Villa clearance just after the break. Most of the time Henry was the provider of crosses rather than the recipient and Villa looked flustered every time he swung in the ball with his elegant right foot.
Kenny Jacket’s men eventually got the winning goal they deserved. This time the cross came from Adam Smith and, with Villa’s marking typically negligent, Marquis headed against the crossbar from 10 yards before stooping to nod in the rebound.