McLeish happy to advance

A relieved Alex McLeish paid credit to his youngsters for a nail-biting 2-0 win over a battling Hereford United.

Aston Villa sealed a third-round place with two goals in the last 10 minutes from Eric Lichaj and Nathan Delfouneso.

The former Scotland manager admitted his side had made hard work of it.

"It was a shame we could not get an early goal," he said. "We made a good start but I was wondering whether the players were thinking seriously about the approach to the game when they were playing a team from a lower division.

"I thought they went about their task really well. We didn't get a break though and I thought Hereford did their manager proud.

"They played very well and were excellent. They kept in the game and gained in confidence and I always worried about a defender making a mistake and opening the back door.

"They didn't really trouble us too much but the professionalism in the team is brilliant and exemplified by the captain, Richard Dunne.

"He was outstanding against Hereford and showed he has the same attitude whether it is Manchester United or Hereford United."

McLeish declined to criticise the home fans, who had voiced their frustrations prior to the final 10 minutes.

He said: "The crowd's frustration is understandable. You expect the crowd to be disgruntled because they were expecting us to bang in the goals.

"They were very patient but at the same time we have to take it on the chin if we are not producing the goods. We have to handle that situation."

McLeish, who guided Birmingham City to its Carling Cup success over Arsenal at Wembley in February, also admitted that it was always his intention to take off England striker Darren Bent.

McLeish wanted Bent to play only the first half but the lack of goals forced him to keep on his talented striker until he was replaced by Andreas Weimann.

He said: "I thought Bent was devoid of a service in the first half and I suppose it was a brave move to take him off when the game was still goalless."

Villa made hard work of beating a side which has only won one of its six games this season when it was defied for long spells by Hereford's on loan goalkeeper, David Cornell, who was making only his second appearance for the club.

The on-loan Swansea City goalkeeper later earned rich praise from Hereford manager Jamie Pitman.

The Bulls boss said: "Cornell was fantastic on a stage he wants to perform on in the future.

"He is a Welsh under-21 international and has a great future. He has come for a month's loan to replace Adam Bartlett. I am delighted to have him in the side."

Pitman feels the performance against Villa will give his side a big boost.

He added: "It was a lift we needed. We have lacked a bit of confidence after being thumped a couple of times.

"I have an inner belief that they are able to compete at a good level and they are actually a better team than last season. The performance against Villa can only give them confidence.

"We frustrated Villa for long periods and after 75 minutes I was wondering, 'Is it our day?' If we could have held out for another 10 minutes we might have got something out of the game."