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Reserves vs Tottenham


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By OutByEaster

A disappointing end to the reserve’s season with a two-one defeat against a talented Tottenham side tonight’s result. With Davis the forgotten man putting in a timely performance, and Juan Pablo Angel perhaps saying goodbye to Villa Park for the last time.

A warm evening at Villa Park, and a surprise start for Barry Bannan behind Juan Pablo Angel in a 4-1-4-1 formation featuring a back line of Hughes, O’Halloran, Ridgewell and Lowry; Lund playing as a holding midfielder and a midfield also featuring Herd, Davis and Stieber

Tottenham started well, with O’Hara feeling confident enough to try an audacious 60-yard lob in the opening minute. It passed safely wide.

I missed the next few minutes as I was momentarily distracted by thirty odd blokes in green tracksuits and a selection of comedy wigs filing into the Trinity Roads central tier. Answers on a post card please.

It was clear that Spurs were the better of the two sides early on, muscular, organised, willing and with no small amount of talent, it initially looked like we might be overwhelmed.

Up front, they had the dangerous Lee Barnard who is as much like Marcus Allback as you can be without getting capped for Sweden. Quick, full of energy and intent, he’s as good a forward as we’ve faced this season.

Villa did get into the game however, led by Bannan’s energy. The angry ant pestered Tottenham throughout the first half and showed his undoubted grit. Davis started to drive through the middle and Stieber got a couple of opportunities to show his pace.

Chances were hard to come by for both sides, but when one did fall it fell to Tottenham. Herd got caught on the ball by Barnard and it dropped to the spiky O’Hara. He hit a hard low shot just to the right of Henderson who couldn’t keep it out.

Immediately afterward Villa carved out their best chance of the half Herd and Stieber linking up well to force a good stop from the Spurs keeper.

Spurs were soon back on the front foot however, and Barnard finished off a good move with a well-placed low drive past Henderson from outside the box for their second.

The second half was more of the same, with lots of fast, crisp passing football but not a great deal in the way of chances. Villa switched to a 3-5-2 with Hughes, Ridgewell and O’Halloran at the back and Lowry and Lund the wing backs.

No matter, we still struggled. With O’Hara and Murphy running the game, and Charlie Lee marshalling the Spurs defence well.

Angel missed a very decent chance on 61 minutes as they tired and the game opened up.

Lowry then found himself free in the box, but his control let him down and the chance was squandered.

From an hour onwards, Davis dominated the game, picking the ball up deep and driving at the heart of Tottenham. His refusal to give up paid dividends when Ciaran Clark, on as a substitute scored for Villa in the 88th minute following a scramble in the box caused by an excellent Stieber corner.

Davis and Ridgewell tried to drive the team on to an unlikely draw but it wasn’t to be.

Some Ratings;

Henderson: (5) Still a young man, but he has a lot of improving to do based on tonight’s performance. Should have done better with the first goal and looked jittery all evening.

Hughes: (6) Solid and dependable, but didn’t dominate in the way that you’d hope a player of his experience would. Nothing wrong with his performance, but I’d hope for more.

Lowry: (6) Struggled at times and looked a little off the pace, but his levels of commitment are beyond reproach and he’s always willing to go again.

Ridgewell: (7) Leader of men. Marshalled our back line well and made life hard for anyone who dared to cross his path. In the second half he often looked our most likely scorer and never gave up the fight.

O’Halloran: (6) Professional Ridge-O-Like who gets a bit more like Liam in every game. Needs to work a bit more on his ball skills to get there, but he’s got the attitude.

Lund: (5) Found the first half very difficult. Tottenham allowed him no time on the ball and he struggled to retain possession. Looked a little more comfortable as a wingback, but didn’t have a good night.

Herd: (7) Another good performance from Herd who continues to prove me wrong. I’m still not sure about him, but his performance tonight and last time out might see me eating my words. Looked very comfortable on the ball.

Davis: (9) A fantastic performance from Davis, which the watching Martin O’Neill can’t help but have noticed. He put in a really decent shift, working his socks off and leaving the field with his shirt wet through. Passed it well and carried the ball from midfield into attacking positions on countless occasions. You know all the stuff that Davis does well? Well he did all that.

Angel: (4) As I watched him trudge off at the end, I was genuinely saddened to think that this might be his final performance at any level in a Villa shirt. It seems like only yesterday that the wild-eyed woolly headed Columbian grabbed his first goal against Coventry. His lazy, languid 90 minutes tonight showed none of his better qualities. This was a performance to forget from a striker who carried no threat.

Bannan: (6) His energy lifted us first half, but he faded towards the end of it and was substituted on 55 minutes. He gets knocked off the ball, but always seems to be back at it a second later. The thing I really noticed tonight though was his passing; Barry can stroke the ball around very nicely and see a through ball. Here’s hoping for a growth spurt.

Stieber: (7) I didn’t realise how quick he was until tonight. He’s sharpish. Continues to take good corners and free kicks and puts in some decent balls. The strength of the talent coming through at Villa is down the flanks. Stieber has a chance.

Clancy: (6) Keen, but struggled to make an impact.

Clark: (7) Made an impact with the goal. He’s an England U18 international and looks a good prospect. Unusually for a Villa youth prospect he looks a decent size. I’m not sure how quick he is, but I look forward to seeing a lot more of him next season.

And that’s it for our home programme, good luck to the boys at Chelsea. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this seasons reserve team football and seen some terrific games. You’ll need to wait until next season now to see how good it is.

By then Barry Bannan could be five foot six; Look out world!

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Thank you very much 'OutByEaster?' for all your reports on reserve matches this season. I'm sure I'm not the only person who finds them extremely interesting and excellent reading. Thanks again, and please keep it up :D

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