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Wycombe v Villa: Mooney looks back on bittersweet cup evening

Wednesday media watch [06.01.16] Flashback 2005: Gr-eight display as Villa turn on second half style

One man who knows all about this weekend's Emirates FA Cup third round opponents is Tommy Mooney.

The former journeyman striker started his footballing journey in the Bodymoor Heath academy - spending one year as a scholar and one year as a pro.

Although he never featured for the first team, the goalscorer made 642 professional career appearance scoring just short of 200 goals in the process - spending two seasons at Wycombe Wanderers.

And his career has come full circle.

Since retirement, the 44-year-old has been back at Villa for four years and is now player loans manager - while also coaching the strikers in the club's U21 and U18 sides.

Interestingly, he was a key member of the Wycombe side which lost 8-3 to Villa in the second round of the Carling Cup back in 2005.

The Chairboys dictated the first 45 minutes and went in 3-1 ahead at the break - Mooney netting their third.

In the second period, however, the top-flight outfit's class shone through with seven second half strikes.

And, as boss Rémi Garde and the squad gear up for Saturday's trip to his old stomping ground, Mooney recalls that memorable night on the outskirts of the capital.

He said: "I was 35, I was coming to the end of my career and travelling from my Solihull home to Wycombe because I was only training three days a week.

"Wycombe was great for me. I was still fit enough to play in the games and then I got the chance to play against players that I'd played against a couple of years before when I was a little bit closer to my prime.

"Sometimes you think those big games might not come around again.

"For a club like Wycombe it was fantastic.

"It raises the profile - the stature of Aston Villa coming to town was a big tie and a big game.

"Wycombe took advantage of that in the first half of the game. We started well. We were 3-1 up at half-time.

"Liam Ridgewell and Gary Cahill were the centre halves that night. I roughed them up! And Nathan Tyson, my strike partner, was a pacey lad in and around me.

"That was the way we seemed to work at the time. And we both got on the scoresheet.

"In the first half everything went to plan but their manager obviously had a few words at half-time and they got a deserved victory in the end.

"The class of the Premier League players took over in the second half once they realised that 'yes, we were from League Two but we weren't bad players'.

"They knew they couldn't take their foot off the gas.

"In the second half, they steam-rolled us really and showed why they were Premier League players and we weren't."

Mooney

It's fair to say Mooney looks back on his time in Buckinghamshire fondly when reflecting on his 20-year long career totalling 14 clubs.

He admits he doesn't get many opportunities to attend matches at Adams Park but recalls his time there with pride and pleasure.

He explained: "I had a really good time, they looked after me and I played a lot of games in two seasons and scored a lot of goals so I think everyone was happy with it.

"The highlights were playing against Villa, getting in the play-offs then the following season missing out on the play-offs but playing in the semi-finals of the Carling Cup.

"Each year they strive for some degree of success and for a small club that's very rare.

"They never settle for mid-table or not being in the cup.

"They are one of those clubs that know what their budget is, how to use it and how to get the best out of their resources.

"Clearly they're doing that this year - being successful in the league and the cup.

The Emirates FA Cup is famous for its upsets and surprising results.

Garde's Lions sit 48 places above their opponents in the Football League pyramid.

And Mooney, who has played for teams with an underdogs and favourites tags, is expecting a typically tight contest and believes the claret and blues must be firmly focussed on getting the job done.

He added: "Having played in third round ties, both as an underdog and one of the bigger teams, you very rarely get a comfortable game in the third round.

"Just being in the hat for the fourth round is what you go and play for.

"You're not thinking about winning by a certain number of goals, you're just thinking about winning the game.

"The game clashes with our FA Youth Cup tie at Palace so I'll be keeping a close eye on what's going on at Adams Park.

"The situation that we're in here at Villa, we need to get that winning feeling back in the dressing room and that's the most important thing."

By @AVFCOfficial 6th January 2016