The Dutchman started on the wing as the visitors fell to a 2-1 defeat in their Capital One Cup fourth-round tie.
Aston Villa began the post-Tim Sherwood era with another defeat on Wednesday night, as they were beaten 2-1 at Southampton in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup.
Villa had Kevin MacDonald in caretaker charge for the match after Sherwood’s sacking three days earlier and the development coach made five changes to the team that suffered a 2-1 home loss to Swansea City on Saturday.
Joleon Lescott, Idrissa Gana and team captain Micah Richards were all left out of the squad, while Jordan Ayew and Jack Grealish dropped to the bench, leaving Jose Angel Crespo, Ashley Westwood, Jordan Amavi, Carlos Sanchez and the fit-again Ciaran Clark to take their places in the starting XI.
The new-look line-up proceeded to dominate the first-half but were made to pay for spurned chances from Rudy Gestede and Leandro Bacuna six minutes after the break when the hosts opened the scoring through Maya Yoshida’s low drive.
MacDonald’s men pushed for an equaliser but fell 2-0 down to a Graziano Pelle strike with 13 minutes left, as Scott Sinclair’s stoppage-time penalty after Jordan Ayew was brought down in the box proved nothing more than a consolation goal.
Nevertheless, there were some positives for the visitors to take from the match, with the performance of Bacuna being one of them.
After being used at right-back for most of Sherwood’s reign and in a defensive midfield role against Swansea, the versatile Dutchman started on the wing at St Mary’s and proved much more impactful in a more advanced position.
As well as coming close to opening the scoring in the 35th-minute with a powerful shot, the 24-year-old showed plenty of flashes going forward and Villa seemed to lose some momentum when both he and Jordan Amavi were replaced by Jordan Ayew and Jack Grealish just after the hour.
It remains to be seen whether his performance was enough to earn him another start for Monday night’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur, but after his largely disappointing start to the season, the claret and blue faithful on Twitter certainly seemed encouraged by his midfield run-out.
Bacuna really trying to force himself back into the first XI. Fair play. #AVFC— The Holte (@TheHolteTweets) October 28, 2015
Bacuna or Ronaldo in disguise!?— TW Villan (@Villafanblog) October 28, 2015
Bacuna has REALLY impressed me lately!— TalkAstonVilla (@TalkAstonVilla) October 28, 2015
Fantastic football. Bacuna should always be RM #avfc— Dale Birch⚡️ (@BattleBorn__) October 28, 2015
Bacuna is boss— Cooooooop (@LCoop_) October 28, 2015
Bacuna deserved a goal there. Great run, one two and shot. Corner. #avfc— AVFC FORUMS (@avfcforums) October 28, 2015
Good move that going forward! Bacuna unlucky there! #AVFC— Alex Franklin (@AFranklin_AVFC) October 28, 2015
Bacuna and Sanchez look half decent at the moment.— Richard Ward (@wardiedj) October 28, 2015
Lovely that, Bacuna. Good to see you can remember how to attack from midfield! #AVFC— Matt Bye (@MattB88) October 28, 2015
Bacuna on flames— Yee (@kouri_yee) October 28, 2015
Bacuna is playing really well at RM, the position he was playing when we bought him... who'd have thought it— Harry! (@HarryPeate96) October 28, 2015
Bacuna doing a good impression of Adama there. Same hair too, but much cheaper. #avfc— My Old Man Said (@oldmansaid) October 28, 2015
I dislike Bacuna a lot less when he's playing further forward #positive— Juanmanband (@Jaydogg_3001) October 28, 2015
Bacuna looking good!— Gem (@Gemls11) October 28, 2015
Bacuna playing in his right place on the pitch— Matt Milligan (@choppmatt) October 28, 2015
Bacuna and Amavi are playing like actual wingers. I had forgotten what those were.— Dan (@bored0stiff) October 28, 2015
Bacuna decent playing more advanced— keat (@Keatt_) October 28, 2015
erm.... wtf are those subs. Amavi and Bacuna off???????— Kev Wilson (@luckysalt) October 28, 2015
Hasn't Bacuna been our best player? Why is he coming off?— Neil Fox (@FoxyN77) October 28, 2015
Bacuna and Amavi were the only 2 offering something going forward, villa logic— Tuzzio (@BacunasBhuna) October 28, 2015
Can someone tell me how bacuna got taken off but Westwood is still on I'm confused— David_AVFC (@Olden2989) October 28, 2015