Disappointing, to say the least another chance of a visit to Wembley has gone by, the closest we have been for a long while. Given the way we have been playing along with the way Villa had been out of sorts, we were perhaps wrong to expect a City victory.: it was a cup game after all anything can happen
With changes enforced due to injuries Hughton went from the successful 4-5-1 reverting back to 4-4-2.
Clearly the players cannot play to this older system, gone was fluid forward passing instead looking for that 40-50 yard ball, which all too often was easily handled by the Villa rearguard. Or going sideways, when nobody wanted to take the game by the scruff of the neck and impose themselves.
Our full backs didn't press enough allowing Villa acres of space and time. Pilkington was clearly not interested in either attacking or helping the returning Teirney, who looked as expected ring rusty.
We stood off far too much allowing them to run through us, easily, while Howson had a good game; the midfield was bossed by Holman, because we allowed them too much space and time, half scared to put a tackle in. For me after 20 minutes the pattern was set, it needed David Fox to be brought on, which would have negated the Holman effect.
For City it turned out to be a game of IF's, If Tettey had been there, If Hoolahan had been playing, If Morison had buried two brilliant chances, If Given hadn't brilliantly saved Holt's bullet of a header. If Hughton had broken out the rigidity of his substitutions, giving any player a decent amount of time to get into the game instead of the paltry 5 minutes.
Holt wasn't his usual self, although he did offer planty of running and challenges he seemed more intent on battling with the Villa defenders and can feel a little lucky the ref was lenient.
The question of whether Holt and Morison can line up together still remains, on last nights effort I feel I have to come down firmly on the NO side. They are too much alike, although they are different; in playing, but both are the target of so many balls and out of the two Holt is the better. Although Morison was quite lively he wasted some good chances, using this system Jackson is the better bet to start alongside either of the two big men.
A couple of things that came out of the final result, Hughton I believe was out thought by Lambert on the night, City players struggled to adapt to a different way of playing, perhaps we don't have players who can play that way. It does seem we will struggle if Hoolahan is out, we just don't play the same, also we can add Tettey to that.
I cannot fault the effort although some question marks are there, it was the application where we sadly lacked. The scoreline I feel does flatter Villa a little, but take nothing away from them, they deserved the result but we certainly helped towards to it.
Disappointed, a little let down over another Cup game. They need to get this out of the system quickly, get back to the way we have been playing and continue the league run against Wigan on saturday, another show like last night and we will be turned over again.