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Villa Reserves vs. Fulham: Match Report


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By OutByEaster

Reserve team football returned to Villa Park this evening, and can there be a better way to while away a sunny late summer evening than at Villa Park. With Marlon Harewood.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve been looking forward to this (Well, I could tell you, but you’d be bored, and you’d mock me.) the reserves back at Villa Park for our second game of the season and they didn’t disappoint, hammering Fulham 4-1.

A couple of surprises in the line up, Villa playing with a 4-4-2 that featured Bevan in goal, a back four from left to right of Earls, O’Halloran, Lowry and Herd, with a midfield of Stieber, Hogg, Osbourne, and Damian Bellon, and up front Tobias Mikaelsson and Marvellous Marlon Harewood.

Sadly, no place in tonights fifteen for Barry Bannan or Marc Albrighton, and perhaps more surprisingly no game for Eric Lund.

Fulham actually started the brighter and looked lively coming forward as we settled in at the back, they struggled to create a meaningful chance though, and Harewood almost made them pay after good work from Stieber, shooting just wide.

Having warmed up with that he played a part in our first goal of the evening and what a peach it was. A ball was played through the middle for Harewood to chase; he ran past it and backheeled it into the path of Hogg whose first time ball found Stieber darting down the left. A touch past the fullback and a thumping shot later and we were one nil up with Stieber celebrating.

That sparked us into life and we started to play some very reasonable football. Taking over after one of many foul throws on the night, we attacked quickly and Harewood had the first of two chances in a couple of minutes, this one going just over and the second well saved by the keeper.

In between them a particularly high tackle by Wayne Brown on Hogg caused an argument that briefly threatened to boil over.

Osbourne was by now dictating the tempo, driving through midfield and keeping possession of the ball in a way I can only describe as Barry-esque.

Fulham were under pressure and it showed when Moncur went over the top of the ball and raked his studs right down the back of the sliding Lowry. The Captain; big Marlon wasn’t in the least bit impressed and charged over to let Moncur know all about it. I think it’s fair to say he was nervous.

At this point the trainer decided that the only way to administer treatment was to pull Lowry’s shorts right up over waist height and apply an ointment to the wounded area. I like many in tonight’s crowd was forced to look away. No one wants to see that.

As the other moon rose over Villa Park, A brief flurry of activity saw us through to half time, first an excellent save by Bevan (the ref gave a goal kick!) then Harewood shooting wide with a volley after Stieber had opened them up again. Mikaelsson had the last word with an excellent effort forcing Fulham’s keeper into a great one handed save.

Fulham opened the second half with a conscious effort to push men forward, it wasn’t the best of idea’s though as we looked very happy to attack them on the counter.

On the break Stieber’s inventiveness, vision and first touch were a joy to behold, a great little combination with Earls and Hogg an indicator of Villa finding their sharpness.

It was no surprise then when our second goal of the game arrived. Stieber found some space on the right and played a wonderful flighted cross to the far post where Mikaelsson’s knock-down evaded Harewood but ran straight in to the path of Damian Bellon who hammered home his first goal for the reserves from 10 yards out.

A third followed shortly afterwards, Osbourne starting a move that via Hogg and Stieber came out to Earls on the left, his ball into the box deflected into the air where Mikaelsson brought it down nicely and stubbed it passed the keeper. His reward, a giant hug from Marlon Harewood.

A clash of heads between O’Halloran and Lowry forced Villa into a change as the battling Irishman came off with an ice pack held to his cheek. Osbourne was also substituted and Yago Bellon and young Nathan Delfouneso entered the fray.

Hogg went to right back and the versatile Herd moved over to centre half. This caused a fair bit of confusion for five minutes, during which Fulham first missed an absolute sitter from 8 yards then scored from the resulting corner.

It was played to the corner of the box from where a rasping shot came in that Bevan could only parry into the air for Adam Watts to head home from underneath the bar.

Fulham rushed to get the ball back to the half way line sensing a comeback.

We scored immediately. It was another beauty.

Stieber was everywhere, coming in from the right and dribbling across the front of their defence. A ball to Mikaelsson was controlled with a touch of his right foot before he deftly played it behind his left leg for Earls rushing up from behind him on the overlap to smash home. A belter.

By now Villa were rampant with chief tormentor Stieber ably assisted by the two Bellon’s the football we were playing was bright, lively and at times dazzling. Young Zoltan was thoroughly deserving of the Captains armband handed to him by Harewood as Collins replaced him.

He almost capped his display with the goal of the night, cutting inside a defender to hit a fierce weaving drive that found the keepers post and bounced away to safety.

Four-one the final result and a thoroughly happy crowd departed into the night having been well entertained.

Some ratings;

Bevan (6) Did okay, pulling off one excellent save and marshalling the defence, needs a bit of work on collecting crosses, but did fairly well.

Herd (7) A midfielder at right back (tut!) did very well and got forward as often as possible to help out. Didn’t let anyone down when he was moved over to centre half either.

Lowry (7) Another no nonsense performance from the rugged centre half, Fulham’s strikers never really got going. Marshalled the line well alongside…

O’Halloran (7) Who dominated in the air and looked calm and organised throughout. I hope he’s okay; I suspect he’s got a big old headache.

Danny Earls (9) You know how some players look knackered all the time, Chris Waddle for example, well I reckon Danny Earls looks knackered getting off the bus. He never tucks his shirt in, and with legs so bandy he’d struggle to stop a pig in an alley he’s a footballing Steptoe. But what a player! He ran all night, tackled like a tiger, scored a blinding goal, set one up and even had time to show us a few stepovers. I think I like him.

Osbourne (8.) A mature display, he made a number of good runs at Fulham’s defence, broke up their play well and kept it simple when we had it; Quietly impressive.

D Bellon (7) Decent display in a wider position, was neat and tidy but sometimes looked like he wanted one touch too many. Took his goal well and looked like he really enjoyed it.

Hogg (8.) Another non-stop display from Hoggy, he never backs down, chases everything and passes the ball well. Did okay when he was moved to right back too.

Stieber (10) For the final half hour there were two Bellon’s on the pitch; it seemed like there were about half a dozen Stiebers. He never makes a bad decision, his first touch is near perfect, his passing is excellent, his vision and reading of a game is first class and he was a danger throughout. This is as good a performance as I’ve seen him have. I thought he was absolutely superb and it’s a shame his late strike didn’t go in.

Mikaelsson (8.) The enigma did well tonight, showing his aerial ability, and his neat hold up play. Still looks a little bit ungainly at times, but he played some very good stuff and deserved his goal.

Harewood (8.) I don’t know think anyone enjoyed it more than Harewood, he looked a threat and bothered Fulham from the off. Every time Harewood made a run, three would go with him and the space he created helped us immensely. Could have had one for himself and can consider himself unlucky not to have got it. He deserves praise and credit for his encouragement and motivation of our young team, I didn’t have him down as a leader, but he lead from the front.

Subs

Y Bellon (8.) Nice cameo from Yago, he supported Stieber nicely and helped cut Fulham open on more than one occasion.

Delfouneso (6) Struggled a bit to get into it, but he carries a threat, came close to turning the last man a couple of times and looks like a player with a real interest in scoring goals. Entertained at half time with a display of ball skill that left me frankly baffled.

James Collins (6) Ran hard but couldn’t get as involved as he’d like, one excellent cross did show his promise though.

A very good start and the next game for us is on the 18th September when we’ll be taking on Derby County at Villa Park. If you weren’t there tonight, maybe you can make up for it then?

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How long before Steiber gets a call up to the first team match squad do you think?

He doesn't look to have grown much and it's a tough spot to get into, so it's difficult to say. If he maintains this form though, he'll surely be considered if we have unjuries or suspensions.

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Fab update. Great to see the quality coming through the ranks. Does anyone have access to the reserves fixture list? I may try and catch them at a London away game.

They are on the OS here.

Excellent, thanks. Does anyone know if the Arsenal away game us usually played at the Emirates?

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The Arsenal Official Site doesn't seem to have put its Reserves' fixtures up yet, but last season's match was played at the Underhill Stadium, Barnet's home ground.

Tip of the hat, dear Sir.

Hill being the operative word, having gone to that game I still remember just how sloped the pitch and stands were - bizarre.

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great report, thanks a lot!

I am going down to the next home one, last time I went was the team with the brothers Moore leading the line.

I really like the sound of Stieber, but whoever saw a lad called Stephen Cooke play football will know how wrong things can go, no matter how much promise you have.

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great report, thanks a lot!

I am going down to the next home one, last time I went was the team with the brothers Moore leading the line.

I really like the sound of Stieber, but whoever saw a lad called Stephen Cooke play football will know how wrong things can go, no matter how much promise you have.

indeed. That was the last time i went too - villa v evernot reverses at the bescot - must be about 4 or 5 years ago now. It was the start of GT MK II's tenure.

Cooke was superb - always was for the reserves - constant threat. The 2 Moore's & crouchy played. Davis played & was superb - he looked like he would make the grade. Ridger played too but i was less impressed.

Of all those that played that match - only Sir Luke of Moore is still at the club!

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i think players like the bellons and zoltan will come to fruition when NRC takes the skippers band in a few seasons.

Trouble for Zoltan is he's not much younger than Young Ashley.

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first very nice to see that the games are at VP !!!

Secondly scott, did you get to the Holte hotel, what was it like ?

Not on Monday Ian, mad dash from work I'm afraid, but I was in there Sunday for the SCG and I felt that was a lot more lively than when I visited on a week day. It's really nice building, but pubs are made from people and it's only a baby.

Not all the games are at VP by the way, Walsall's site says that the reserves derby will be played at Bescot. They usually move them as we approach winter and the pitch becomes a concern.

It's a real pity that the Blues game is being moved and I would hope they'll move it back if we're in with a chance of winning the league. It's the last day of the season and i can't think of anything better than parading the trophy in front of the noses at Villa Park!

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