Aston Villa 3 Port Vale 1: Double by enigmatic Baros flatters Villa and foils Vale

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The Independent Online

Milan Baros is hoping an FA Cup double will help him overcome a crisis of confidence and enable him to deliver goals in the second half of the campaign for Aston Villa. The Czech international has seldom been in consistently top form since his £6million arrival from Liverpool in the summer and he took time to fully recover from an Achilles problem.

But he showed encouraging signs against Port Vale with his two-goal blast helping David O'Leary's side overpower Port Vale and reach the last 16 for the first time in six seasons. Baros, who has netted eight goals in all competitions this season, said: "It's been difficult for me. "I feel my fitness is okay now but I really do need to get my confidence back now and play well again in the Premier League. "It's true to say that my confidence is not the best now but I have to work on that and the only way to get it back is to score more goals. It's as simple as that.

"It is never easy to change clubs and then I picked up some injuries which let me down. "Like all strikers, I always feel there is more to come - and that's what I want in the second half of the season, although I won't set myself any targets. "It was good to score a couple in the FA Cup but the most important thing is that we are through to the next round of one of the most famous cups in the world."

Baros is already casting one eye towards Wednesday's home Premier League clash with runaway leaders Chelsea and admits Villa have to focus on pulling clear of the relegation zone rather than harbouring hopes of a late push for Europe. He said: "I came to Villa because I thought they were capable of getting into Europe but that may be next season now. "First of all, we have to concentrate on getting out of relegation problems and that means staying focused for all our Premiership games.

"We have to go along game by game and wait and see what happens. It was a shame we played four games over Christmas and were unbeaten and then lost to West Ham at home. "The Chelsea game is big for the fans and the players. We know they will be favourites and we have nothing to lose in that game. "But beating them in the Champions League semi-final with Liverpool last season was one of the most emotional nights of my career and it would be good to beat them again." Villa striker Kevin Phillips is pushing for a place in the starting line-up in place of the ineffective Juan Pablo Angel after recovering from an ankle injury. He came off the bench and his first touch set up the opening goal for Baros. Villa manager David O'Leary said: "It will take a few weeks to get Kevin up to speed after his two month lay-off but he is a good player who I am sure will prove value for money over the next couple of years."

Vale substitute Sean Doherty has vowed to put behind him the disappointment of missing a golden chance when Villa were hanging on at 2-1 and help the Potteries club push for the League One play-offs. He said: "Those things happen in football. You have got to pick yourself. You can't dwell on a missed chance. I thought I should have scored. "We had Villa under pressure at the end. Any defeat is disappointing but we can take positives out of the game. We've got to get over this and push into the play-offs now. That is our main objective. Vale's marksman Nathan Lowndes said: "I was disappointed we didn't sneak a draw at the end. The experience will help the younger players become better players."

Goals: Baros (70) 1-0; Baros (74) 2-0; Lowndes (85) 2-1; Davis (90) 3-1.

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Sorensen; Hughes, Delaney, Mellberg, Samuel; Hendrie, Davis, McCann, Milner; Angel (Phillips, 68), Baros. Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk), Whittingham, Ridgewell, Moore.

Port Vale (4-4-2): Goodlad; Abbey, Pilkington, Fortune (Birchall, 71), James; Cummins, Dinning, Togwell, Innes (Doherty, 72); Constantine (Lowndes,76), Husbands. Substitutes not used: Brain (gk), Sonner.

Referee: S Bennett (Kent).

Man of the match: Baros.

Attendance: 30,434.

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