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Match Reports

Villa v Blades

4 January 2014

Villa 1-2 Blades - report

The Blades deservedly knocked out Premier League opposition to beat Aston Villa on Saturday.

With around 6,000 Blades fans in attendance, goals from Scottish duo Jamie Murphy and Ryan Flynn secured a prestigious FA Cup third round win.

On a momentus day, United's players were given a rousing reception from the travelling contingent at the final whistle, rightly so.

Clough opted for an attacking, positive line-up at Villa Park. Wingers Murphy and Flynn both started, whilst Porter, McGinn and Baxter were all fit, despite picking up ankle problems in midweek.

Murphy replacing Coady was the only change to the team that started at Walsall and on the bench was 16-year-old Sheffielder Calvert-Lewin, who took the place of Lappin. For Villa, former Blade Lowton started whilst there was a late change to the home team with Tonev, originally named on the teamsheet as a substitute, taking over from Baker.

United lined up with a 4-4-2 formation, whilst it appeared that Villa's late alteration forced Lowton into a central defensive berth.

With the Blades fans in good voice, the visitors started well, although chances at both ends were non-existent early on. Collins intervened when Weimann attempted to slip Benteke through but United's experienced defender was booked for a challenge on Albrighton on 12 minutes.

The first opportunity brought a goal and it went United's way - and Clough's team selection was pivotal. After combining with Baxter, MURPHY cut in from the left and his shot took a telling deflection off Westwood to beat goalkeeper Steer.

More fortune followed for the Blades two minutes later when Tonev's goalbound shot hit Weimann, whilst Murphy went after a second when he cut in again following a crossfield ball from McGinn, but this time the goalscorer fired wide.

Tonev shot wide after McMahon's clearance was blocked by Benteke just after the half hour but the Blades were causing problems for the Premier League side. Clark was booked for an off-the-ball clash which left Porter blooded and after Maguire got the better of Benteke, a break resulted in Lowton having to cut out a Murphy cross which was destined for Porter.

As half-time approached Benteke headed wide two crosses from Albrighton and it was the travelling fans who were applauding off their team at the interval.

United kicked off the second half with two shots from Flynn, both of which needed saving by Steer, and at the other end Long had to be alert to push away a mis-hit Albrighton cross.

Just after the hour, with the Villa fans getting increasingly agitated, another Flynn effort was parried by Steer and then Porter shot wide after Flynn's neat pass.

As the referee's watch ticked around to 70 minutes, United's disciplined performance - epitomised by the work-rate of skipper Doyle - continued although it needed a McMahon challenge on Benteke to stop the striker getting a clean shot Long.

However, Villa's attacks were getting more frequent and after there was penalty shout for Maguire's challenge on Benteke, Weimann's shot was deflected to substitute HELENIUS, who slid home a first time shot.

There was a chance for United to hit straight back but after another lay off from Baxter, Porter fired over and then Flynn shot across goal. With ten minutes left Coady replaced Baxter and soon after the Blades were celebrating again.

FLYNN had been a threat to Villa all day but he saved his best until the last ten minutes - he battled to keep possession on the edge of the box and after cutting in from the right, he curled, left-footed, into the top corner.

As time ran down Doyle raced back 50 yards to stop Benteke getting an effort on goal, whilst four minutes of injury-time was announced. Young defender Kennedy replaced Porter late on and Miller took over from Murphy.

Deep, deep into injury time, Weimann and Benteke went close and Long was booked for timewasting before referee Coote blew the final whistle to secure a tremendous and deserved victory.

Villa: Steer, Clark, Bacuna, Weimann, Albrighton, Luna, Westwood, Delph, Benteke, Tonev (Helenius 60), Lowton.
Unused: Guzan, El Ahmadi, Sylla, Bowery, Donacien, Gardner.

Blades: Long, Maguire, Hill, Flynn, Doyle, Porter (Kennedy 90), Baxter (Coady 80), McGinn, Collins, Murphy (Miller 90), McMahon.
Unused: Howard, Cuvelier, Brandy, Calvert-Lewin.

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