Middlesbrough manager Garry Monk was delighted to see Patrick Bamford bag his first goals of the season in last night’s 2-0 Carabao Cup win at Aston Villa.
A month since he last started a Sky Bet Championship fixture, the striker netted twice in the second half to secure a third-round victory at Villa Park.
The 24-year-old proved a troublesome opponent for Villa’s skipper Tommy Elphick, who was sent off in the 58th minute for conceding a penalty with a foul on Bamford.
Villa had a let-off in the 27th minute when Bamford powered in a header against the bar following Connor Roberts’ right-wing cross.
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 Boro.
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 into the middle of the net as Jed Steer dived 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.
Monk said: “Strikers will always be judged on the goals they score. Personally, I judge them on the work they do and how they play for the team.
“I look at goals as an added bonus.
“I think all the players, including Patrick, have been working incredibly hard all season. He has done extremely well and goals will boost his confidence.
“Strikers do not score in every game and he has had a period when he has not scored but he has to trust in hard work and trying to improve himself.
“We dominated the game from start to finish and thoroughly deserved the win.”
Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce admitted that Bamford’s clinical finishing was the major difference between the two teams in a game which changed dramatically with the dismissal of Elphick.
Elphick brought down Bamford in the area and, having already collected a first-half booking, was given his marching orders with a second yellow.
Despite exiting the competition, Bruce was buoyed by the performance of 19-year-old forward Callum O’Hare.
He said: “The sending off was a classic game changer. It was a red card.
“Going down to 10 men and with Bamford converting the penalty it became very difficult against a decent side.
“It was obvious that some of the players needed a game and the big plus for me was the performance of the youngsters and in particular Callum O’Hare.
“He looks a very good player and it was good to see the emergence of the youngsters. It was a step too far for them after we went down to 10 men.
“We are all disappointed we have gone out of the cup but we all know my remit.
“We all know I have a huge week with three games in seven days and that is why I left out all the players who won 3-0 at Barnsley to keep them fresh.
“There is now all to play for and we know where we have got to be and mounting a challenge.”
Aston Villa: Steer, Hutton, Elphick, Samba, de Laet, Lansbury (McCormack 41), Doyle-Hayes, Onomah (C Taylor 81), O’Hare, Bjarnason, Hogan (Lyden 63). Subs not used: Bree, Richards, Bunn, Clark. Sent Off: Elphick (58). Booked: Elphick
Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos, Roberts, Ayala, Gibson (Fry 46), Friend, Howson, Forshaw, Bamford, Wing (Downing 63), Tavernier, Fletcher (Miller 82). Subs not used: Da Silva, Assombalonga, Baker, Pears. Booked: Howson. Goals: Bamford 58 pen, 67
Ref: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire)
Boro’s Under-21s twice led before losing 3-2 at League Two club Accrington Stanley in last night’s Checkatrade Trophy Group B tie.
Patrick Reading and Luke Armstrong both notched for Boro, but Liam Nolan hit a last-minute winner for the hosts.
Accrington Stanley: Chapman, Hornby-Forbes, Sykes, Dallison, Ogle (Donacien 82), Sousa, Brown, Johnson (Nolan 82), Leacock-McLeod (Watson 86), Edwards, Wilks. Subs not used: Savin, Reilly, Hmami, Mills. Booked: Johnson. Goals: Brown 54, Wilks 70, Nolan 90.
Middlesbrough U21s: Hemming, Dale, Brewitt, McGinley, Coulson (Storey 75), Reading, Malley, Liddle, Soisalo (Sinior 87), Curry (O’Neill 59), Armstrong. Subs not used: James, J Wilson, Spence, Walker. Booked: Armstrong, Reading. Goals: Reading 31, Armstrong 65.
Ref: Graham Salisbury (Lancashire).