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Reserves vs Reading


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By OutByEaster?

Top of the table Reading were tonight’s visitors, to Villa Park. They found a Villa side that were more than a match for them in a decent 3-0 victory.

Line-ups first on a very pleasant Villa Park evening. Villa started with Taylor in goal, a back four of Lund, Laursen, O’Halloran and Samuel with a midfield four of Herd, Hogg, Gardner and Stieber and a rather experienced looking front two of Luke Moore and Juan Pablo Angel.

No game tonight for Marc Albrighton who looked happy enough to sit this one out.

Reading brought an experienced bunch, including Kevin Doyle, John Oster, Andre Bikey and former favourite Ulises De La Cruz. Readings Pro-celebrity line up also included playwright Alan Bennett who played at centre half and Patrick Cox who kept everyone’s boots shiny on the bench.

Liam Ridgewell unfortunately pulled out prior to kick off, which meant that Samuel got to play at left back after a few games at centre half.

The game started slowly with both teams moving the ball around without much of a threat, but Villa: buoyed by the constant singing of a large group of local schoolchildren soon started to get a grip on things.

Gardner tested the keeper from distance forcing an excellent save, before twice forcing him into good stops from close range after picking his way through the Reading defence nicely.

Stieber played over an excellent corner and Gardner forced his way past Laursen to plant a firm header home.

Shortly afterwards Jlloyd Samuel picked up a petulant booking for refusing to give the ball back for a throw in. It was a difficult night for Jlloyd with Seol tormenting him down our left. Strangely, having played out of position in the middle for a few games, he really struggled in his natural position. Credit Seol though, most of Readings threat came from his crosses.

Gardner continued to threaten from distance, with our much vaunted front two showing good touches without producing much in the way of end product.

Jlloyd shook off his defensive shackles to break through the Reading midfield and play a ball out to Stieber who once again produced a terrific cross for Herd to volley home from close range.

Villa looked comfortable at half time.

The second half started well and Villa produced a flurry of chances: Moore almost taking advantage of a mix up in the Reading box but finding that the ball wouldn’t sit for him. Angel was next, shimmying his way to a decent chance that the keeper dealt with well. A good move involving Laursen, Moore, Hogg and Gardner left Stieber with the opportunity to shoot from the edge of the box, but he fired well over.

When Angel rose to thump a header against the post a couple of minutes later it seemed that a third goal couldn’t be far away. These things never seem to quite work out that way though, and the game turned towards Reading as Villa switched off.

The Royals generated some excellent pressure with a succession of corners that were defended well (First team take note) and a number of well-worked opportunities that were spurned with some poor finishing. Shane Long was particularly wayward, but it was clear that Reading could play, and their league position seemed altogether more plausible than it might sound.

Villa seemed limited to occasional breaks by Moore who struggled hard against Bennett and Bikey to no avail.

He did manage to win us a corner however, and Stieber completed his hat-trick of assists with another precision corner placed onto the head of O’Halloran who dispatched it with a minimum of fuss.

Barry Bannan made his regular cameo appearance as did England under 18 player Ciaran Clark, but neither had long enough to make an impact.

Three-Nil the final score, and we made it look very straightforward indeed against the best side in the division.

Some ratings:

Taylor: (7) Some good stops and commanded his area well. We’re lucky to have a number two with his ability and authority.

Lund: (7) A capable performance from Eric. He looks comfortable at this level and dealt well with everything that was thrown at him.

O’Halloran: (7) defended well and played one or two decent long balls forward. Didn’t manage to get forward as much as he has in other games, but did very well against a dangerous Reading attack.

Laursen: (9) Came striding forward to win balls or carry the fight to Reading on countless occasions. When the pressure was on in the second half, every Reading attack seemed to wither on Laursen. He’s got this coming back from injury thing down to a tee.

Samuel: (5) Struggled with Seol all night. His booking was just silly and he didn’t make enough impact going forwards, often working his way into decent positions before failing to get a ball in. The watching scouts won’t be reaching for their clubs chequebooks tonight.

Hogg: (8) A performance packed full of industry, energy and endeavour. He simply outworked the Reading midfield. It’s the best game I’ve seen him have, and if he can add a bit of quality on the ball then he’s one for next season.

Herd: (7) Like Hogg, this might be the best game I’ve seen him have for the reserves. He tired toward the end but battled well down the right hand side, provided a few decent crosses and took his goal very well.

Gardner: (9) Dominated the middle of the park, tackled hard as ever and really impressed with the runs he made from midfield. Had a number of efforts from distance and got into the box well. He might consider himself unlucky to only have scored one. With Gavin McCann suspended, I think Craig Gardner should find himself in the sixteen against Blackburn.

Angel: (7) Some nice touches, and added a bit of guile to our attacks, headed against a post whilst offside and had two or three shots, but never really looked like he was going to score.

Moore: (7) Ran hard, and badgered the Reading defence from start to finish. Had a couple of half chances, but occasionally dwelt too long on the ball in front of goal. A strange performance from Luke, “worked hard but no goals” isn’t a line that seasoned reserves watchers are familiar with.

Stieber: (8) A hat-trick of assists and superb delivery from set pieces all night. It was a shame that he couldn’t add much from open play where he was too often knocked off the ball. Needs a bit more time in the gym so that his physique can support his talent.

None of the subs were on long enough for a rating. (Even though I find it very hard not to mention Barry Bannan.)

Enjoyable fayre, and there will be more available next Tuesday at Villa Park, a 19:00 kick off with Tottenham the visitors.

Should be a cracker.

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Moore: (7) Ran hard, and badgered the Reading defence from start to finish. Had a couple of half chances, but occasionally dwelt too long on the ball in front of goal. A strange performance from Luke, “worked hard but no goals†isn’t a line that seasoned reserves watchers are familiar with.

It seems strange that if luke isn't in his plans he is still out there trying hard, maybe the attitude thing is wrong or maybe mon does see him as part of the team.

I'm confused and hope to see him jump up from the reserves soon.

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I do hope you're right about Gardner. The kid just keeps getting better and better.

I hope you are right. I like the guy. When I've seen him I thought he has that Roy Keane "fearless and nasty" about him and we need that.

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so i think we'd all like to see Gardner and Moore in the 16 at least against Blackburn.

Anyone willing to bet that our esteemed manager will select them?

Me neither ..... :evil:

Hopefully, Moore putting a fair amount of effort into last night's game might have cauight the eye of MON, if that's what he was after. Hopefully ....

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Where's that bleedin' CyberVillan when you need him ;) Just kiddin'CV. Excellent report as usual Scott. I wonder could we have been top if we'd sorted our form out earlier. Certainly bashing everyone now.

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I do hope you're right about Gardner. The kid just keeps getting better and better.

I hope you are right. I like the guy. When I've seen him I thought he has that Roy Keane "fearless and nasty" about him and we need that.

I honestly thing he has that type of ceiling. That's not to say I think he'll be as good as Roy Keane, I'd never want to put that much pressure on the kid. But he's got a similar style in that he's one of those players you can rely on to keep grinding away no matter what. He can pass, shoot, he's got good leadership skills and if you're not careful he might accidently break your leg.

I'm willing to bet that if he doesn't make it here, which is entirely possible given the circumstances, he'll go on to 'do a Sidwell' and we'll be wondering how the hell we let him slip the net.

He's got a big big fan here.

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Some highlights up on VillaWorld now.

Good to see Luke playing in a villa shirt as doubt it will be for the first team ever again, i wonder why MON just didn't let him go out on loan last month when the offer was there. :?

Stieber looks to have a cracking left foot and puts some awesome crosses in, he doesn't look much different to Downing in stature so i wonder if he is being looked at as the next first teamer?

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