Carling Cup Third Round - Aston Villa 0 Leicester 1
Aston Villa not so much as bowed out of the Carling Cup last night but went out with a whimper as East Midlands rivals Leicester took revenge for dumping them out of the competition last season.
Leicester won thanks to a Matt Fryatt goal to get one over their former manager in what was a somewhat lacklustre affair. And over 90 minutes the Foxes deserved the win with Villa managing to force only one real save from Foxes' keeper Marton Fulop in the first 45 minutes.
Leicester themselves only troubled Stuart Taylor twice — once for the goal from former Walsall youngster Fryatt — and it will give some much-needed cheer to new manager Gary Megson who has not had the best of starts.
Villa manager O'Neill made a number of changes from the side who beat Everton 2-0 on Sunday, bringing Bulgarian midfielder Stiliyan Petrov back into the fold while defender Curtis Davies was handed his debut.
Young midfielder Isaiah Osbourne started the game along with Scottish international Shaun Maloney and Marlon Harewood up front.
Villa's England stars Scott Taylor and Ashley Young were on the bench along with Luke Moore and Patrik Berger, back after a six week lay off from a hamstring injury.
Leicester, meanwhile, featured three former Birmingham City players in Bruno N'Gotty, Stephen Clemence and D J Campbell while former Tranmere Rovers target-man Iain Hume was used to try and work some magic up front.
And the first real chance of the game fell to Leicester when, in the 11th minute, Taylor was forced to make a save from Patrick Kisnorbo. The former Arsenal keeper was then busy again moments later saving at close range from Fryatt.
In the 22nd minute, after a foul on Nigel Reo-Coker, Villa won a free kick and up stepped Gareth Barry. He tried to curl the ball into the box for the advancing Zat Knight but, as the passage of the ball was blocked by a defender, it fell straight into the path of Gabby Agbonlahor whose shot smashed straight into the Foxes' defence.
As the first half threatened to bow out without incident, Reo-Coker made a charging run and tried to put through his former West Ham team-mate Marlon Harewood but his pass was too much for the big striker.
In the second half it was Villa who came out looking the more fired up with Maloney forcing a save from Fulop.
Petrov began to show glimpses of the form that won fans over in the early days during his debut at Upton Park last season while Olof Mellberg continues to look comfortable at right back despite the fact he much favours the centre half position.
The Villa crowd has also lost its spark for unexplained reasons in the last two matches — the only real time the atmosphere really electrified was when fans' favourite Ashley Young sprinted along the touchline as he prepared to warm up to play his part in the last 20 minutes of the game.
And that immediately lifted the team with Harewood weaving his way through a string of blue shirts to dig out Mellberg whose shot was hard and low enough but safely gathered by Fulop.
But it was eventually Leicester who went ahead after Zat Knight — having an unusual off day without his talisman Martin Laursen beside him — missed his man and, as the Villa defence tried to sprint back, Matt Fryatt to score.
O'Neill now threw his first-choice players on as he attempted to claw back an equaliser with Young, Berger and Moore all entering the fray. With five minutes to go Agbonlahor had perhaps Villa's best chance to even things up but his shot skimmed across the face of the Leicester goal.
Then Maloney expertly curled the ball round the Foxes' goal from a free kick but was denied by the keeper as was Berger with his long-range free kick three minutes from time.
Villa desperately peppered Fulop's goal in the dying minutes but Megson's men held firm to go into the hat for the fourth round — their revenge must have tasted so sweet.
Scorer: Fryatt (76)
ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Taylor, Mellberg, Barry, Davies (Berger, 79) Knight, Mellberg, Petrov, Reo-Coker, Osbourne (Young, 69) , Maloney, Harewood (Moore, 76), Agbonlahor. Subs: Carson, Gardner.
LEICESTER CITY (3-5-2) Fulop, McAuley, N'Gotty, Kisnorbo, Chambers, Clemence, Kishishev (Haybury, 67) Stearman, Mattock, Hume (Campbell, 62) Fryatt (Kenton, 82) Subs: Henderson, Sheehan.
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire).
Bookings: Villa — none ; Leicester — Clemence, (74, dissent.)
Attendance: 25, 956.
Villa Man of the Match: Shaun Maloney — a bright spark