New And Improved

Last updated : 22 January 2009 By Tom Vickers
Liam Ridgewell, Jloyd Samuel and Steven Davis; just three of the names that figured in Villa's dismal defeat to Doncaster in the League Cup just over three years ago.

It's safe to say that the first team squad has improved markedly since the now Bluenose, the current Bolton left back and the diminutive Rangers midfielder represented the Claret and Blue.

The current line up shows just two survivors from the side that were defeated in dismal fashion at Belle Vue.

Gareth Barry and James Milner are those players and they, in symmetry with modern starting XI, have improved massively.Both are in or around the international reckoning nowadays, which illustrates just how much they have progressed since appearing in David O'Leary's disjointed team.

Doncaster have also developed into a side capable of competing with if not beating the Championship elite.

They won their last league outing in impressive style against fellow strugglers Southampton and comfortably dispatched F.A. Cup third round opponents Cheltenham in midweek.


They are certainly a side reaching their confidence peak for the season and Villa will beware a team, who they have only ever beaten once in ten attempts.

That win came in 1970 in the old division three as the Claret and Blue managed a 3-2 victory.

Most of Doncaster's triumphs are also consigned into history but it is their 3-0 humiliation of Villa in 2005 will rankle with Villa fans until the day that revenge is gained.

That vengeance could come on Saturday as Martin O'Neill's in form side look to continue their impressive four match winning streak.

The game is likely to come too early for injury victims John Carew, Wilfred Bouma and Martin Laursen and O'Neill is likely to rest a few key individuals to ensure that they don't suffer the same fate as those already on the sidelines.

Doncaster will provide an imposing threat just as they did on the tortuous night at Belle Vue but one positive for Villa is the location of the fourth round tie.


The game will be played at Rovers' new home - Keepmoat Stadium - which will give the away side more freedom to show their class due to its large parameters.

Belle Vue, Doncaster's former fortress, was tight and the fans were right on top of the players. As well as the lack of quality in the Villa line up in 2005, the ground undoubtedly played a part.

But, Villa will have no excuses this time around as they look to get to the fifth round of England's premier cup competition for just the second time since they reached the final in 2000.

Revenge is apparently a dish best served cold and this could be the right time for Villa to impart it against their former conquerors.

Ridgewell, Samuel and Davis are not around to help win the tie so Villa will just have to make do with Curtis Davies, Stiliyan Petrov, Gabby Agbonlahor and co.