In the day’s only Premier League FA Cup tie, Aston Villa hosted Midlands rivals West Brom just days after their 1-0 victory in the league. Who would prevail, for a place in the semi-finals of the FA Cup?
Second-half goals from Fabian Delph and Scott Sinclair sealed a sweet 2-0 victory for Tim Sherwood‘s men, over their local rivals just four days after their 1-0 Premier League win over Tony Pulis‘ men, to confirm they are the first team to secure their place in the FA Cup semi-finals.
West Brom had their fair share of chances in the opening 45 minutes, but failed to make them count. Ideye Brown especially, the Nigerian striker who had two excellent goal-scoring opportunities, which he failed to take advantage of. At the half-time interval, the scores were still level, and the game was in need of a spark.
Delph delivered that spark, in the 51st minute with a low, powerful drive beyond goalkeeper Boaz Myhill, who arguably should have done better to deny the Englishman from breaking the deadlock – but could not sort his feet out quickly enough to stop the effort.
In the final ten minutes plus stoppages to play, the game heated up once more. First, midfielder Claudio Yacob was given his second yellow card and consequently sent off by referee Anthony Taylor for a tackle on Leandro Bacuna, who slid in to try and win the ball. Controversial, as Yacob got to the ball first, and Bacuna’s slide was dangerous play in itself, but the Dutchman left the incident unscathed.
Then, four minutes later, Villa hit the visitors on the counter attack – former Manchester City and Swansea forward Scott Sinclair doubled the lead for the hosts with a neat finish beyond Myhill after turning his defender inside out, who was helpless to stop the curling effort from swerving into the bottom corner of the net. The 25-year-old wheeled away to celebrate with the home fans, but little did he know that many of them would embrace him near the advertising boards, foreshadowing the controversy to come.
In the third minute of stoppage time, young winger Jack Grealish was given a second yellow card, for simulation by the referee – who felt the youngster dived when attempting to latch onto the ball which Joleon Lescott got to first. Replays showed there was in-fact contact, so another controversial decision given by the official before the full-time whistle.
At the full-time whistle, hundreds of Villa fans ran onto the pitch and crowded the players – including captain Delph, who told the media that he was bitten by the home supporters; which is sure to be the main story in tomorrow morning’s newspapers.