Aston Villa 3 Doncaster 1: Carew rips the heart out of Doncaster

05 February 2009 01:38
John Carew made an immediate impact for Aston Villa

following his return from injury as Premier League finishing proved the difference at Villa Park.

The big Norwegian started his first game in three months and his presence was crucial as a below-strength home team squeezed their way past energetic opponents and into a last-16 tie at Everton.

Striker Carew has been struggling with a mysterious hip and back problem that has restricted his involvement, leaving Martin O'Neill's side to make do without his help.


Steve Sidwell puts Aston Villa 1-0 up against Doncaster

They have prospered despite the striker's absence however, but last night proved what a handful they might be with him to call upon.

Carew was chiefly responsible for the first goal and scored the second himself as thehosts took a decisive early stranglehold on this fourth-round replay.

Jason Price pulled back the deficit with a goal on the stroke of half-time that offered the Championship visitors a glimmer of hope before Nathan Delfouneso celebrated his 18th birthday earlier this week by wrapping up the game with a deft header from Nicky Shorey's left-wing cross.

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O'Neill said: 'It was really important for us to see how John went tonight. He got through 90 minutes and had a hand in a couple of goals. He's still short of fitness, but he's back earlier than I anticipated, which bodes well.

'I also thought young Delfouneso was excellent.'

John Carew doubled Aston Villa's advantage against Doncaster

O'Neill made seven changes to the team who had been held, rather fortuitously, by Wigan at the weekend, with Gareth Barry and Gabriel Agbonlahor both on the bench.

After 18 minutes it appeared Villa's work was over. They had raced into a two-goal lead with Doncaster the architects of their own downfall.

The visitors were knocked out of their stride when referee Lee Mason decided that Sam Hird's unwitting hand-ball warranted a yellow card, well within range of Young's deadly delivery.

Neil Sullivan did well to punch the England international's free-kick clear before the same player picked it up again.

This time, Rovers failed to heed the warning. Carew flicked the ball on and midfielder Craig Gardner connected with a shot, having slipped the wrong side of his defender.

Former Scotland international Sullivan did well to palm his shot clear but Sidwell turned in the loose ball.

Nice one, Nathan: Delfouneso is congratulated by Davies after hitting the third Villa goal

The visitors were just as naive three minutes later. Carew's threat is normally from set-pieces, but last night he found himself free with the ball at his feet 25 yards from goal.

Perhaps more experienced opponents would have scented danger, but the striker took full advantage, letting fly and watching as his shot deflected off a defender andlooped over a stranded Sullivan.

Doncaster battled back and went close on several occasions before James Coppinger's neat ball inside was swept home by Jason Price, his first goal in a year.

However, despite a bright Doncaster start to the second half, the tie was over just after the hour when Shorey moved forward at pace and swung over a cross that was directed into the net by Delfouneso.

Rovers boss Sean O'Driscoll said: 'We did our homework. They are strong on set-pieces and play counter-attacking football. Ultimately that is where they won the game. It's tough because some of our play was excellent.'

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Source: Daily_Mail