​BAMFORD BRACE BEATS BRUCES BOYS

Patrick Bamford guided Middlesbrough into the fourth round of the Carabao Cup with two second half goals to earn a 2-0 away win over 10-man Aston Villa.
The Boro striker proved a troublesome opponent for Villa’s skipper Tommy Elphick, who was sent off in the 58th minute for a foul on Bamford which conceded a penalty. Bamford converted the spot kick and sealed Villa’s fate nine minutes later with another goal to produce Boro’s first League Cup win over the Midland club in five encounters.

It was also Villa’s first defeat in seven games and a result which could not be disputed. Both Villa and Middlesbrough made 10 changes apiece from the teams which battled out a goalless draw a week previously.

The only players keeping their places were Villa’s Henri Lansbury and Boro’s Ben Gibson. Lansbury lasted 40 minutes before making way for Ross McCormack who was drafted in for only his second appearance since his major fall out with manager Steve Bruce half way through last season. His return, however, was made In front of a sparse crowd and the pattern of the game was stencilled in when both teams quickly had a goal disallowed with the atmosphere akin to a reserve game.

The sprinkling of youth and experience created a different style of play, with Villa drafting in two highly rated youngsters, Jake Doyle-Hayes and Callum O’Hare, on the back of an unbeaten run of six games. Both figured well in the opening exchanges but it was the experience of skipper Elphick, making a rare senior start, who came to the club’s rescue with a timely tackle to shut out a shot from Ashley Fletcher.

Elphick, however, earned the first yellow card for a high tackle on George Friend which was nearer the Boro player’s knee than his foot.

Villa had a let-off in the 27th minute when Bamford powered in a header against the bar following a right wing cross from Connor Roberts. It was a rare flash of quick decisive play which deserved a better reward. But it did spark off an intensive spell of attacking pressure by a Boro side which appeared to be a more solid and positive unit.

The game changed in the 57th minute when Elphick brought down Bamford in the area and collected a second booking and subsequently a red card. Bamford made no mistake from the penalty spot casually firing his spot kick into the middle of the net with Steer diving to his left – the first goal conceded by Villa in four games.

Bamford sealed Boro’s place in the fourth round with a looping header to convert Marcus Tavernier’s left wing cross.

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