Villa limitations are exposed by Humphreys
Sheffield Wednesday 2 Aston Villa 1
The strategy Villa adopted against Sheffield Wednesday would not be so much ill- advised in their Uefa Cup campaign as inviting disaster. Instead of adhering to the close, swift and potentially incisive passing game, for which their five-player midfield was presumably designed, they resorted to a ploy from days of yore, the good old long ball.
"It was surprising coming from us," said Villa's manager, Brian Little. "But we did tend to hit it long after their first goal. Des Walker was able to use his pace and get the ball back. I don't think we got to grips with it in midfield." It was neither disciplined nor effective and while Little did not add as much he might have imagined how counter-attacking Continental opposition would prosper in such circumstances.
Perhaps they were provoked into such hasty measures by a wonderful opening goal. Ian Nolan's punt upfield did not look much more than speculative when it was glanced on by Mark Pembridge. The ball darted into the path of Ritchie Humphreys, raw, 18 and born in Sheffield. His left-footed volley was a gem of timing.
Until that point, 11 minutes into the second half, Villa had characteristically been more patient. They had been forced to make do with the minority of possession but had also looked the more threatening with it. Dwight Yorke, Ian Taylor and Tommy Johnson all demanded some urgent defensive work in the Wednesday area.
But falling one behind only made it more likely that the deficit would become two. So it proved. Guy Whittingham's delicate header at the far post deservedly put the game beyond Villa's reach. Johnson's strike in the last minute merely demonstrated that desperation sometimes works but only a bit. The delightful skills of Sasa Curcic, awaiting a renewed work permit after being recruited from Bolton, can only enhance them.
Wednesday's manager David Pleat, whose side had already been written off in some quarters, understandably beamed afterwards. He also announced the imminent arrival of Orlando Trustfull from Feyenoord for a fee of less than pounds 1m. If this attacking midfielder is as effective as the club's other Dutchman from Feyenoord, Regi Blinker, then sides other than Villa might be provoked into mild panic.
Goals: Humpreys (56) 1-0; Whittingham (83) 2-0; Johnson (90) 2- 1.
Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Pressman; Atherton, Walker, Stefanovic, Nolan; Collins, Whittingham, Pembridge (Hyde, 73), Blinker; Humphreys (Oakes, 80); Booth. Substitutes not used: Clarke (gk), Nicol, Sheridan.
Aston Villa (3-5-2): Oakes; Ehiogu, Southgate, Staunton; Murray (Joachim, 63), Draper, Taylor, Townsend, Wright; Yorke, Johnson. Substitutes not used: Rachel (gk), McGrath, Farrelly, Scimeca.
Referee: L Dilkes (Mossley).
Man of the match: Blinker. Attendance: 26,861.
Latest in Sport
Robin van Persie to Fenerbahce: Manchester United striker 'agrees to personal terms' with Turkish side
Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs posts bizarre video of his Miami holiday being invaded by an iguana
Women's World Cup 2015: England secure third place as they beat Germay in extra time with penalty by Fara Williams
Arsenal transfer news: Gunners will only consider 'astronomical offer' from Atletico Madrid for Santi Cazorla
Why is it that there’s no women’s team at Manchester United? - Michael Calvin
- 1 Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
- 2 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 3 Right to die: Belgian doctors rule depressed 24-year-old woman has right to end her life
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...