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Reserves vs. West Ham


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Another storming reserve match report by OBE:

Aston Villa 2 – West Ham 0 in an evening with much to please the eye for a Villa fan at the Bescot stadium.

The reserves eh! That’s where kids get to cut their teeth against the occasional first teamer coming back from injury or the odd player struggling for form?

No.

17 of the 22 players that started tonight’s game have started Premiership games this season.

Our line up looked like it could have been a first team. Taylor, Hughes, Samuel, Osbourne, Ridgewell, Gardner, Davis, Angel and Moore were joined by the less familiar names of O’Halloran and Stieber.

West Ham countered with a line up that featured former Walsall favourite Jimmy Walker back at his old stomping ground and big name signings Lois Boa Morte and Kepa Blanco, plus occasional first teamers Mullins, Pantsil, and Newton.

We lined up in a 3-5-2 formation with a back three of Ridgewell on the left, Samuel in the centre and O’Halloran on the right and Zoltan Stieber and Aaron Hughes as wing backs.

West Ham played in black, and it didn’t take tonight’s canny referee more than a few minutes to notice. The fourth official delivered a shiny green shirt from the dressing room about five minutes in.

The fourth official by the way was a young lady with hooped earrings, a big mop of permed black hair and a very shiny pair of shoes. I think they dragged her from outside the off licence.

Villa started very brightly indeed, Angel and Moore linking up very well and the midfield charging forward to join in. An early chance created for Hughes the result of some particularly good work.

After the resulting corner the lively Stieber produced a tempting cross, which Hughes planted firmly behind Walker for our first goal. Poor Jimmy looked like it was all coming back to him.

Villa continued to create chances, Gardner coming closest with a well-placed twenty-five yard free kick a whisker wide.

Half way through the first half though we seemed to run out of steam, and West Ham increasingly came into the game without really creating any decent chances against a solid back line, Ridgewell in particular allowing nothing to pass.

There was enough to put a little concern into the crowd of 287 at the half time interval though.

Villa began again brightly without ever reaching the same level of dominance as in the early part of the first half, and it was West Hams Kepa who had the best chance, forcing an excellent save from Taylor.

The referee who’d been excellent in the first half decided to change his ways in the second half with a series of confusing decisions. Electing to ignore a clear penalty when Moore was fouled in the box being the worst of a series of incidents.

Villa got the goal our second half performance deserved following good work from Craig Gardner who squared for Moore, eight yards out.

Luke performed a short but hypnotic dance that left young James Tomkins bewildered and on his backside and Jimmy Walker hypnotised and rooted to the spot before poking home into a gaping net.

From then on in, Villa looked a bit more comfortable, the excellent Ridgewell hit the bar on one of his pirate raids after some great interplay with Gardner. Young Luca Ridgewell sitting behind me looked suitably impressed and didn’t cry once.

A shocking high two footed lunge from sixty grand a week Portuguese megastar Luis Boa Morte on Hughes looked worthy of a red but only resulted in yellow.

Moore and Angel were replaced with about ten minutes left and despite some good stuff from Steiber (now playing up front) West Ham relaxed and created a number of late chances but Taylor remained staunch.

And that was it, to be honest it wasn’t the greatest spectacle, but Villa played some good stuff and thoroughly deserved our victory.

Some ratings;

Taylor (8 ) – A couple of very good saves, and a commanding performance, never looked anything less than composed and in control. Shouting was excellent as ever, and one particularly loud cry of “keep the f***ing ball” will have had concerned parents closing windows and turning up the telly for miles around.

Hughes (7) – Started very well, looked dangerous going forward and scored a good goal. As the game went on he became more withdrawn, I think his lack of games started to tell.

Samuel (7) – Defended well and seems an effective enough centre back without ever really dominating. A better organiser than I had him down as.

Ridgewell (9) – My man of the match, looked solid at the back, put in some great tackles, and had the beating of Kepa in the air. Showed his pace at times and got forward well, making a couple of great rampaging runs through the midfield, the second of which resulted in his hitting the bar.

Osbourne (6) – High energy and good effort from Ozzy but he gave the ball away a bit too much for my liking tonight. He tended to go and get it back again, but that’s not really the point. Lacked a killer pass.

Stephen O’Halloran (7) – At times it was like having a Ridgewell either side of Samuel tonight, he looked solid and his distribution was better than in other games I’ve seen him in. As good a game as I’ve seen him have.

Craig Gardner (8 ) – For me the best of our three young midfielders on the night, was involved in everything good we did, was a threat from dead balls and when joining the attack, and proved that he’s not about to back out of any tackle.

Steven Davis (6) – Worked hard but nothing really seemed to come off for him, he looks like his lack of matches has thrown his timing a bit and I think another couple of reserve outings will do him good.

Juan Pablo Angel (7) – Looked sharper and his work rate was excellent. His link play was exemplary, just a shame he couldn’t get onto the end of anything. A thoroughly decent display overall.

Luke Moore (7) – A decent performance, with occasional flashes of brilliance. Comes alive with the ball and should have had a penalty. His shimmy, shuffle and slide for his goal was a class above most anything else on the pitch.

Zoltan Steiber (7) – A lively performance from young Zoltan, he was full of energy but didn’t seem to be able to dominate his area of the pitch. He has excellent feet, a good football brain and his delivery from open play was excellent. His set pieces were poor though and there’s work still to be done. Could be pushing for a go in the first team this time next year if his development continues.

None of the subs were really on long enough for a rating.

And that was that. A comfortable 2-0 win for our strong reserve side over their strong reserve side. It can’t be easy being a West Ham fan.

Next up Watford at Bescot again on the 12th March.

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Nibbler - the first thing a reader wants to know about a football match is the score, and whilst they may appreciate your command of the English language, this will come a poor and distant second to discovering the result.

First attempt - no score

Second attempt - wrong score

Third time lucky, eh ?

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so thats 2 pieces of magic to score 2 goals in the last 2 games from luke.

Good to see him keep doing it at this level, he's doing whats asked of him untill he gets back in the first team.

Hmmm.

he is doing all HE can, IMO.

Sadly, the manager's prerogative is something beyond his control.

It'll be a real eyebrow raiser if he is not heavily involved against Arse .....

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