Carew ends Doncaster dream

Aston Villa 3 Doncaster Rovers 1

Until last night's entertaining but not always convincing victory that gave them a fifth-round tie at Everton, Villa had beaten Doncaster once in 11 attempts and that when both clubs found themselves in the old Third Division. The failures have included a humiliation in the League Cup under David O'Leary and an FA Cup tie in 1955 that spilt over into four replays and which was eventually lost at The Hawthorns.

Even when a radically altered Villa side took an early two-goal lead through Steve Sidwell and John Carew, they were not safe and had Brad Guzan not pulled off a fingertip save from the Doncaster captain, Brian Stock, the visitors would have equalised.

As it was, almost immediately afterwards, Aston Villa scored the goal that saw them through to Merseyside. It was the best of a bitterly chill evening, created by a fine, low cross from Nicky Shorey that Villa's teenage striker, Nathan Delfouneso, headed instinctively home. Doncaster's fans warmed themselves with a chorus of "We are staying up" and on this evidence they are likely to be proved right.

For Martin O'Neill, who said Villa's concerns that Arsenal were allowed an extra day to sign Andrei Arshavin would be addressed at today's Premier League meeting, the rest of the season is all about balance. However, although the Aston Villa manager professed his love for the FA Cup, he acknowledged that qualification for the Champions League was "the Holy Grail". "I cannot afford to carry anyone in the team," he said. "I haven't got the squad for that so everyone has to step up."

For his tactics of making seven changes to the side booed off after Saturday's goalless draw with Wigan to work, Aston Villa needed quick goals and, although they got two, it was not until Delfouneso's intervention that Villa Park could relax.

Their opening two goals arrived with some of the luck that had abandoned them against Wigan and the Doncaster keeper, Neil Sullivan, would have felt himself unfortunate on both counts. For the first Villa goal, created by an Ashley Young chip that was nodded on to Craig Gardner, Sullivan pulled off an exceptionally fine one-handed save, only to see the ricochet roll into Steve Sidwell's path. He placed it into the net beneath the 5,000 or so who had travelled from Yorkshire for his fourth goal for Aston Villa.

That was nothing compared to what happened four minutes later when Carew, making his first start since suffering a back injury in November, swung his foot smoothly but speculatively at loose ball on the edge of the Doncaster area. It struck Sullivan's centre-half, Sam Hird, changed direction entirely and looped slowly over the former Tottenham man.

And that, logically, should have been that, except Doncaster kept upping their game while Villa's declined. "I was concerned all evening," O'Neill confessed. "But that's part of my nature."

As they proved when overcoming Leeds in the League One play-off final with some of the neatest, most composed football the new Wembley can have seen, Doncaster are not overawed by the grand stage. And nor were they last night, although their manager, Sean O'Driscoll, still maintained that two fine displays against a team fourth in the Premier League were "a distraction" to their Championship survival campaign.

But his team kept passing, they kept attacking and for a period Villa kept making mistakes. In first-half stoppage time an error by Delfouneso was pounced on by James Coppinger, whose square ball was met with Jason Price's instep and finished neatly in the corner of the net beneath the Holte End. Once more Doncaster were proving a major irritant.

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Guzan; L Young, Cuellar, Davies, Shorey; Gardner, Sidwell, Salifou, A Young (Osbourne, 78); Delfouneso, Carew. Substitutes not used: Friedel (gk), Barry, Milner, Agbonlahor, Knight, Lowry.

Doncaster Rovers (4-4-2): Sullivan; O'Connor, Mills, Hird, Chambers; Spicer (Guy, 75), Stock, Wellens, Woods; Price (Heffernan, 75), Coppinger (Byfield, 76). Substitutes not used: Roberts, Van Nieuwstadt, Taylor, Lockwood.

Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).

5

Games needed to separate the teams the last time they faced each other in the FA Cup. Doncaster won the fourth replay 3-1 in 1955.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform