Villa overwhelm Rovers but have to survive wobble

Bristol Rovers 1 Aston Villa 3

Memorial Stadium

"Goodnight Irene", the odd choice of anthem for Bristol Rovers, rang out at regular intervals from a crowd of more than 10,000 here yesterday evening but in the end and to no great surprise it was goodnight to the home side.

At one of the lowest points in their history and without a manager, they predictably found even the erratic Aston Villa an entirely different proposition from Corby Town and AFC Totton, who in earlier Cup rounds had provided two victories during a dismal season following relegation from League One. The final margin should still have been closer, for after the veteran journeyman Scott McGleish scored in the last minute, his even later penalty was saved by by the otherwise under-employed Brad Guzan.

Villa, 73 places ahead of their opponents in the great scheme of things, endured an uncomfortable first 20 minutes in unfamiliar surroundings and on a soft pitch used by Bristol rugby club, but they controlled matters thereafter, finding themselves allowed to get away with mistakes that would have been punished in the Premier League, where they have recorded only one win in the past five games – paradoxically, at Chelsea.

Alex McLeish, a Carling Cup winner with Birmingham last season, fielded a strong side and was delighted that all three goals came from homegrown players in Marc Albrighton, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ciaran Clark. "We got a wee bit complacent at the end but I felt we controlled it pretty much," he said. McLeish also confirmed that Robbie Keane should arrive on loan from LA Galaxy this weekend and that there is no truth in speculation about Darren Bent leaving.

As the opposing manager it was a daunting first match in charge for Shaun North, who had arrived as assistant to the highly regarded Paul Buckle from Torquay last May, only to find the senior man sacked after five months of football that culminated in four successive defeats and a position in the bottom six of the Football League. Sean O'Driscoll, who once did good work at Doncaster Rovers, is regarded locally as the favourite to take over permanently, ahead of Richard Money. North was also forced to do without his injured leading scorer Matt Harrold, who might have offered a threat as Villa tooka while to settle. Midway through the first half the flow of play changed, as well as Rovers having to replace the injured Mustapha Carayol with the 37 year-old McGleish.

Albrighton began putting over a stream of dangerous crosses and corners from the right, from one of which Emile Heskey had a header turned over the bar in fine fashion by Michael Poke, the goalkeeper on loan from Brighton. Then, 10 minutes from the interval, they scored a straightforward goal. Stiliyan Petrov, the captain, made it with a diagonal pass along the ground to Albrighton, who finished smartly. He should have made the half-time lead more comfortable soon after but volleyed horribly wide from 10 yards.

Heskey did not appear for the second half, having suffered a recurrence of an achilles injury that will keep him out for a month. That had the effect of enlivening Villa's attack with the introduction of the much speedier Agbonlahor, who brought a touch of class to the proceedings with the second goal. Before he had acclimatised, they suffered a nasty moment with McGleish wasting a good chance from Joe Anyinsah's cross. But that was a rare threat from the otherwise toothless Pirates, and in the 65th minute Agbonlahor collected a pass from Clark, wriggled past the central defender Cian Bolger and from 15 yards angled the ball perfectly inside a post. A quarter of an hour later, Clark strode forward himself and finished just as impressively low in the opposite corner. Less distinguished was Richard Dunne's backpass to let in McGleish to score and the striker then hit what he admitted was a poor penalty easily held by Guzan.

Bristol Rovers (4-2-3-1): Poke; Woodards, Bolger, Downes, Sawyer; Stanley, Dorman; Zebroski, Richard (Brown, 79), Carayol (McGleish, 28); Anyinsah (McLaggon, 86).

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Guzan; Hutton, Collins (Gardner, 74), Dunne, Warnock; Albrighton, Petrov (Bannan, 82), Clark, Ireland; Bent, Heskey (Agbonlahor, h-t).

Referee Howard Webb.

Man of the match Albrighton (Aston Villa).

Match rating 6/10.

Voices
voices
News
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
newsBumping fists rather than shaking hands could reduce the spread of infectious diseases, it is claimed
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
newsHad asteroid hit earlier or later in history, the creatures might have survived, say scientists
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
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

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried