CON-fi­dent Villa is­sue a state­ment of in­tent!

Birmingham Post - - SPORT - Conor Houri­hane

CONOR Houri­hane be­lieves Villa’s lat­est vic­tory ‘sent out a state­ment’ to their Cham­pi­onship ri­vals.

Mid­dles­brough had con­ceded only three goals at home be­fore they en­ter­tained re­ju­ve­nated Villa on Satur­day night.

Yet they were torn apart as Villa ran riot at The River­side, scor­ing three unan­swered goals – and there might have been more. Houri­hane reck­ons the man­ner of the win, Villa’s fourth in five matches, will have sent shock­waves through the di­vi­sion.

“At Mid­dles­brough, we re­ally wanted to make a state­ment,” said the Repub­lic of Ire­land in­ter­na­tional. “Af­ter For­est we were re­ally dis­ap­pointed – not with how the game went, but be­ing 5-4 up and them down to ten men, we felt we should have seen the game out.

“The lads were re­ally dis­ap­pointed and we wanted to go to Mid­dles­brough and make a state­ment. I felt we played re­ally well. The aim was to win the game and show what we are all about.

“Mid­dles­brough are a good side. They are up there in the league. We wanted to go there and con­tinue chas­ing the pack down, which we did.”

Villa are hardly in for an easy ride, de­spite hav­ing faced pro­mo­tion con­tenders in each of their last four games.

Up next is a dif­fi­cult trip to third-placed West Brom on Fri­day night.

Be­yond that there’s home games against Stoke City, who had been billed as Cham­pi­onship favourites be­fore the sea­son, and sec­ond-placed Leeds United.

Un­der Dean Smith, sud­denly any­thing ap­pears pos­si­ble and Houri­hane, who has fea­tured in seven of the head coach’s eight games in charge, says the team will head into that trio of tricky fix­tures full of be­lief.

He said: “We knew the game at Derby was the start of a tough run. We have passed a lot of tests so far, go­ing through it.

“There are still a lot of tough games to come. West Brom, Stoke and Leeds is an­other block of games which is go­ing to be a tough one for us.

“But we will go into those games with a lot of con­fi­dence, af­ter the re­sults we’ve had.”

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