Cameron Archer scored a hat-trick on a dream first start for Aston Villa as Dean Smith’s much-changed side cruised to a comprehensive 6-0 Carabao Cup win at Barrow.
Having returned to the competition last season after 48 years playing non-league football, the TV cameras were in town as Mark Cooper looked to oversee one of the Bluebirds’ greatest cup triumphs.
But Villa spoiled the party at a sell-out Dunes Hotel Stadium, where 19-year-old full debutant Archer scored his first three goals for the club in the second-round tie.
The youth product’s first came just 10 minutes into the match in Cumbria, where Anwar El Ghazi – the sole survivor from Saturday’s Premier League win against Newcastle – cheekily dispatched a first-half penalty.
The 26-year-old volleyed home his second of the night just before the break, then set up Archer to superbly add the visitors’ fourth.
Frederic Guilbert struck before Archer completed an unforgettable hat-trick on a night when Barrow were unable to give the majority of the 5,349 in attendance a goal to cheer.
The night got off to a bad start for the hosts as El Ghazi met a fine pass with a similarly impressive cross for Archer to turn home.
The visitors looked rusty out of possession but had quality in attack.
Carney Chukwuemeka and Jaden Philogene-Bidace joined fellow teenager Archer in making their first Villa starts on Tuesday, with the latter earning a penalty that El Ghazi converted with a Panenka.
The hosts were furious not to have a spot-kick of their own moments later when Ozzy Zanzala went down.
The striker headed just over as half-time approached and then left a light swinging from the roof of the stand with a wayward shot as Barrow fans continued to goad the visitors with chants about departed Jack Grealish.
But Villa would add a third in first-half stoppage-time and El Ghazi put a finger to his lips after striking home Guilbert’s cross.
There was applause at the break for the Barrow employee who clambered a ladder to fix the light and supporters were making even more noise when Ollie Banks forced Jed Steer to tip wide.
The hosts were desperate to give their fans a goal to cheer out and continued to battle, but those endeavours left gaps at the back.
Philogene-Bidace dragged wide before El Ghazi played through Archer to coolly lift over Paul Farman.
Villa were not finished there. Philogene-Bidace was frustrated to be denied by the Barrow goalkeeper, only for Guilbert to follow up and rifle home in the 75th minute.
But Archer would have the final say as he completed his hat-trick late on.
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