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Game #239

Saturday, 16 March 1895

Attendance: 14,000


FA Cup Semi Final



Ewood Park

Steve Smith scored a brace as Villa qualify for their third FA Cup Final in eight seasons - all three of which have been played against neighbours West Bromwich Albion with a win to each's credit.

Aston Villa



Assists(s) | Not recorded


Steve Smith, scored a brace to send Villa to the FA Cup final again, Saturday, 16 March 1895



[Exact timings not recorded]
7’ Goal, 0-1, (Sunderland)
HT Aston Villa 0-1 Sunderland
Goal, 1-1, Steve Smith
Goal, 2-1, Steve Smith
FT Aston Villa 2-1 Sunderland


Villa qualify for their third FA Cup Final in eight seasons - all three of which have been played against neighbours West Bromwich Albion with a win to each's credit.

Aston Villa



Previous 5 vs. Sunderland: | 🟩 | 🟨 | 🟩 | 🟥.| 🟨 |


Season | 1894-95 |
Matchday | #30 |
Manager Game | #213 |
Saturday, 16 March 1895


Manager | George Ramsay led Management Committee |
FT Score | 2-1 |
FT Result | Won |
Last 5 Games | WWDWW |






In two changes to the team that earned the semi final berth Howard Spencer and Jack Reynolds return with Jim Elliott and Fred Burton dropping out.


Starting XI Average Age
| 24.79 |

Oldest Player |
F Dennis Hodgetts | 31.32 |

Youngest Player |
FB Howard Spencer | 19.58 |


George Ramsay led Management Committee


Aston Villa

GK Harry Wilkes |
CB Jimmy Cowan |
FB Jimmy Welford |
FB Howard Spencer |
M Jack Reynolds |
M George Russell |
W Steve Smith |
W Charlie Athersmith |
F Dennis Hodgetts |
F Jack Devey |
F Bob Chatt |



No Substitutions permitted in period



No Substitutions permitted in period







Not recorded


Not Recorded

Player Abbreviations:

GK : Goalkeeper

LB, RB, FB : Left Back, Right Back, Full Back

CB, D : Centre Back, Defender

M, W : Midfielder. Winger

F, CF : Forward, Centre Forward

🟢 : Debut 🔴 : Final Game


⚽ | Goal
🔥 | Assist
🔁 | Substitution

🟨 | Booking

🟥 | Sending off

🆘 | Poor refereeing performance




Not recorded


2021-22 Matchweek 38.jpg


Quotation Marks.png


"The Villa's victory was extremely popular, and they were loudly cheered as they left the field. Their reception at New Street station, where they l arrived al midnight, was of the most cordial character, the players being loudly cheered by a large number of a enthusiastic supporters who had awaited their arrival."

*The Birmingham Daily Post*
Monday, 18 March 1895


The predictions which we gave on Friday regarding the a semi-finals for the English Cup have been fulfilled, and the Birmingham District and Counties Football Association, for the second time in its history, possesses the distinguished honour of having two representatives in the final.

The Aston Villa gained a brilliant victory over Sunderland at Ewood Park, whilst the West Bromwich Albion succeeded in overthrowing Sheffield Wednesday at Derby.

The Villa and the Albion will therefore have to meet at the Crystal Palace and fight again their great battle of three years ago. Between now and the 20th proximo the coming struggle will practically absorb the interest of footballers locally, and the chances of each team will be discussed over and over again.

On form the final looks a good thing for the Aston Villa, but so it did in 1892, and we all know how that match resulted. However, it is too early yet to discuss the matter, for many things may happen in the ensuing five weeks; but, before leaving the subject for future reference, we do desire, on behalf of footballers in the district, to heartily congratulate the two clubs on their handsome victories.


The five or six hundred spectators who journeyed from Birmingham on Saturday to witness the contest between the Villa and Sunderland felt fairly confident that the former would win, and this confidence was not misplaced, for the Perry Barr players succeeded in vanquishing their rivals by 2 goals to 1.

The score scarcely indicates the nature of the contest, for it might be imagined that it was a ding- dong game, and that one side were as prominent in the attack as the other. Such, however, was not the case, for the Villa must have a made at least three attacks for each one by their opponents, but they were always met by a magnificent defence, hence the smallness of their score.

Defence was the strong feature of Sunderland’s play at Blackburn, their forwards, in point of combination, comparing unfavourably with those pitted against them.

Even in the first half the Villa had distinctly the best of the argument in all but the matter of scoring.

The ground, which was in lovely condition, appeared to suit their forwards to a nicety, and from the kick off they pressed, and during the first six minutes Doig stopped at least four attempts by the Villa to score. But at length the Sunderland forwards broke away, and were given a throw-in near the corner flag. The throw was taken by Wilson, and the ball dropped in front of the Villa goal, where an exciting scrimmage ensued, and, amidst considerable cheering, Hannah shot the ball into the net seven minutes from the start.

Sunderland, although they had so far had distinctly the worst of the play, had scored, and it was thought by many that this goal might prove sufficient to turn the balance in their favour and when a moment later their forwards were seen dashing in irresistible fashion towards the Villa goal, it seemed that there was good ground for such an opinion.

A slight misunderstanding by Russell and Welford might have ended disastrously, for Miller was let in, and his shot, a terrific one, went straight for its mark. To the evident relief of the Villa supporters, however, the ball passed a few inches over the top of the crossbar.

A brilliant run by Smith was the next feature worthy of notice, and the smart little Villa forward appeared likely to equalise, but when about to shoot he was badly tripped up by McNeill.

Fortunately for Sunderland the foul occurred outside the twelve-yards mark, or a penalty must have been given.

The Villa, however, had to be content with a free kick, and the Sunderland defence proved successful in the exciting scrimmage which took place in the mouth of their goal.

The Villa, who were playing much the better football, kept continually harassing the opposing defence, but the shooting was not as good as it might have been, and the shots which Doig had to save were usually taken from a long range, and the Sunderland custodian easily dealt with them.

In the matter of shooting the Villa in the first half were not so good as Sunderland, and the latter, whenever they broke away, caused the Villa supporters many anxious moments.

On one occasion, after a desperate rally in front of the Villa goal, Miller shot, but the ball just passed wide.

Sunderland’s attacks, however, were fortunately rare as compared with those of the Villa, whose accurate and machinelike passing was warmly applauded by the crowd on many occasions.

The interval was drawing near and the Villa made strenuous efforts to get level, but all to no purpose, and when the referee blew his whistle Sunderland were leading by a goal to nil, although on the play they certainly deserved to have been in the minority.

A fine shot by Devey just before the interval is worthy of mention, and Doig is to be congratulated upon stopping it. It was certainly a magnificent effort on the part of the Sunderland goal-keeper.

The second half opened in a manner which well nigh terminated disastrously for the Villa, for a sudden dash by the Sunderland forwards took the opposing defence by storm, and Hannah headed the ball into the net.

Wilkes, however, had been improperly obstructed by Campbell, and the point was not allowed.

The energy and spirit which had marked Sunderland’s play for the first few minutes greatly encouraged their supporters, whose hopes of victory ran very high.

But these hopes were doomed to disappointment for the Villa recognising the necessity for a great effort, made it, and after a hot and furious siege the Sunderland goal fell to a shot from Smith.

Cowan first tried to score, but the ball cannoned out to the left wing player, and he easily eluded McNeill and beat Doig with a lovely shot.

The Villa’s success was hailed with tremendous cheering, and it was at once evident that they were the favourites with the crowd.

Play during the next few minutes was more exciting than at any other period of the game, for the Sunderland forwards gathered themselves together and made a grand effort to recover the lead.

During a sharp attack Wilkes saved brilliantly from Harvey and Miller. Sunderland, however, could not maintain the pressure for long, and their own goal in turn became the scene of the fight, and it was wonderful how it escaped downfall.

Sunderland again broke away and forced a corner kick, which was well taken, and Wilson put in a grand shot which might easily have taken the Villa goal-keeper by surprise, but fortunately he got to the ball end threw it out of danger, and the next moment Devey, Hodgetts, and Smith were seen dashing off towards the Sunderland goal. The ball was touched from one to the other with beautiful precision, and ultimately as passed to Smith, who dodged M’Neill and scored amidst tremendous cheering.

This proved to be the winning goal for although Sunderland made a couple of desperate efforts to equalise they failed, and in the last few minutes were thoroughly beaten.

There can be no denying the fact that the Villa were the better team on the day’s play.

Their forwards were quicker on the ball, and passed better than did the Sunderland forwards, and only their magnificent defence saved the Wearsiders from a heavier defeat.

As far as could be seen, Gow and McNeill never made a mistake during the match, and the former’s play was the subject of general admiration, Doig gave a great display of custodianship, and no blame attaches to him that his goal was twice captured, for the shots with which Smith scored were placed out of his reach.

Wilkes’s goal- keeping display was only inferior to Doig’s because he was not so frequently tried. Several of the shots stopped by the Villa custodian were of the most difficult character, particularly those from Miller and Wilson in the second half.

Welford played with his usual dash, and it was rarely that he was found wanting; whilst Spencer acquitted himself well, and, although he made one or two mistakes, which might have been serious, he did many really brilliant things.

Russell, Cowan, and Reynolds, the Villa half-backs, were better than Johnston, McCreadie, and Wilson respectively, although the latter played a sterling game for his side.

Cowan was, perhaps, the best half-back on the field, but his companions both ran him very closely, and both in attack and defence the trio were seen to great advantage. Their judicious backing up had not a little to do with the Villa’s success.

Beyond the lack of sufficient vigour near goal during the first half, the Villa forwards played capital football, and, as before stated, were a much superior combination to the Sunderland five, some of whom performed in a rather disappointing manner.

Smith and Hodgetts were the Villa’s best wing taking the game through, although during the second half Athersmith made some excellent runs, and no fault could be found with his centring. Thanks, in no small I degree, to the judicious care of his partner, Smith was enabled to distinguish himself greatly, and was indeed the best forward on the field, although Harvey played very well for Sunderland.

The Villa’s victory was extremely popular, and they were loudly cheered as they left the field.

Their reception at New Street station, where they l arrived at midnight, was of the most cordial character, the players being loudly cheered by a large number of a enthusiastic supporters who had awaited their arrival.

The attendance at Blackburn was not nearly so numerous as had been anticipated, only about 15,000 persons being present, whereas twice that number were expected. The charge of a shilling for admission doubtless accounted for the absence of a great many people. The receipts amounted to £781.