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Villa Reserves vs. Chelsea – Match report


bickster
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Scott's been to see the stiffs again, so here's another of his most excellent match reports

Reserves & Youth Team

Sometimes you just need a little sporting lift, after a weekend of Hamilton and Wilkinson, Saturdays red mist and England’s shortcomings, you just need an arm around your shoulder. Don’t worry; you’re amongst friends at Villatalk with the reserves, just me, you and Salifou.

A great evenings entertainment saw Villa’s reinforced reserve team trounce Chelsea’s much vaunted youngsters six nil!

Two pairs of socks for the first cold game of the reserves season, and I almost didn’t get in. Turnstile trouble left a crowd of about fifty milling around outside Villa Park before kick off. Like a new signings work permit coming through they got us there in the end though.

Villa lined up in a 4-4-2 with Sorensen in goal, a back line (from left to right) of O’Halloran, Davies, Lowry and Lund. In midfield, Stieber, Hogg, Osbourne and new man Salifou with the experienced Patrik Berger just in front of them and Marlon Harewood leading the line.

The kick off was slightly delayed as Billy big time Chelsea were slow out of the dressing room. Not so Villa who started brightly, pressing the opposition who seemed happy enough to attempt to soak up pressure and play on the break.

On four minutes the ball came out to Stieber who jinked past his man and whipped an inviting ball into the box. So inviting in fact that Chelsea’s right back, van Aanholt couldn’t resist a little nibble himself. One lovely volleyed finish past a bewildered keeper later and Villa were one up, own goal, and what a peach!

Villa were bright with Berger chancing his arm from distance and the lively O’Halloran starting particularly well. Hogg was chasing like a Jack Russell in a chicken coop and the back four looked solid.

Some neat one touch football left the ball out wide with Lund who allowed the right back to come onto him before slipping a ball on to Salifou. He controlled it, looked up and played a dinked ball in for Berger to knock home from the edge of the six-yard box. A very nice team goal, and Berger celebrated like a teenager!

There were fireworks off the pitch throughout the first half, with one particularly large bang making Salifou jump about a foot. Berger’s thirty yard rocket just over the bar did much the same for me.

Lund was next to test the keeper, he broke down the right and seeing nobody in the box decided to give it a go from the touchline twenty yards out. The keeper had to make a decent save to prevent a memorable moment for the Swede.

Fireworks of a different kind next as Hutchinson of Chelsea came in late, high and hard through the back of Stieber. The young Hungarian looked in a fair bit of pain and was forced to hobble off shortly after. There were one or two lively challenges during the evening, and Chelsea seemed to take particular umbrage to Jonathon Hogg’s enterprise and energy. No matter, Earls on for Stieber and the game continued.

A rare mistake by Hogg allowed hot prospect Scott Sinclair a clear sight of goal for them, just 12 yards out and with the keeper seemingly nowhere he comically managed only to find the cross bar with the follow up from Stoch a good ten yards higher still.

That was a let off for Villa who seemed to be losing the early momentum with the visitors having their best ten minutes of the game.

Earls raised us from our slumber just before half time however and his good work allowed Berger to put in a deep cross which the keeper flapped at with Salifou lurking.

Salifou then played Harewood in but the unpredictable number nine found his shot blocked well by the keeper.

Davies almost connected with the resulting corner and O’Halloran’s shot just off target finished a great couple of minutes for Villa and an excellent first half.

Chelsea brought Sawyer on at half time with Hutchinson withdrawn to ruminate on the damage he’d done to Stieber. Sawyer did well in what was a slow start.

The first decent chance came when Osbourne broke through midfield and sent Earls free down the left; his cross was put well wide by Berger with Harewood coming in behind him.

Hogg was next to try with a rising 25-yard drive, before a poor cross from Earls almost meandered in to the top corner.

Davies was next to come a cropper, being bundled over the hoardings by Chelsea’s number 6 Liam Bridcutt. He looked a little sore, but recovered quickly enough to help celebrate our third goal.

Harewood was released by a very clever ball which I think came from Salifou. (It may have been Osbourne, I was checking if Davies was okay) In space and one on one with the keeper, he produced a delicate and delightful chipped finish, which nestled neatly into the bottom corner.

The confidence was back with Villa and Berger was pulling all the strings. He released Osbourne who galloped through midfield and into the box before placing his shot just inches wide.

Hogg was enjoying himself in his own way too, receiving a yellow card for what can only be described as a proper clattering of the aforementioned Mr Bridcutt.

Osbourne, Hogg and Berger seemed to have the midfield under control, but again after half an hour Villa seemed to lose a little momentum. Rodriguez was finding space for them and a consolation seemed likely.

Berger wasn’t going to have that though and started to supply some lovely through balls from the middle of the park, firstly to Salifou who wasn’t quite quick enough to get away from his man and could only shoot straight at the keeper, then to Harewood who couldn’t get past Worley.

Harewood returned the favour though with a little ball for Berger in the box, Berger jinked past a man but found the keeper a big obstacle again. From the corner he found himself in possession out left and put over an innocuous enough cross which found Chelsea sound asleep and Harewood with as easy a finish as he’ll ever have for four-nil.

Osbourne and Berger were withdrawn with 10 minutes left, hopefully with places in the senior squad in mind, and were replaced by Mikaelsson and Herd.

The two subs almost combined as soon as they came on and worked well to set up Harewood who couldn’t quite finish and was clearly sniffing for his hat trick.

Mikaelsson was almost put through by Herd again a moment later, but space was too tight and he found the keeper at his feet.

Van Aanholt nearly made amends for his earlier error with a lovely run late on, he glided past Hogg with the grace of a gazelle, dropped a shoulder, delivered a feint and swept imperiously past Davies and…. Lowry kicked him up in the air. He’s like that Shane, no-nonsense, and no one goes by him.

That only left one thing to do, Herd and Mikaelsson again combining really well to leave Harewood alone and six yards out. Marlon stood with the ball at his feet for what seemed like an age before poking it home for his hat trick and Villa’s fifth of the game on 89 minutes.

There were two minutes of stoppage time and Villa should have added three more goals in them. First Davies heading just over, then Harewood taking one touch too many in the box, then finally the Herd / Mikaelsson partnership coming up trumps with Herd free on the back post to tap in Tobias’s cross.

Six bleeding nil! Take that back to London you fluorescent yellow tarts.

(I should point out that tonights Chelsea side are no mugs. Sinclair is an excellent young player and has appeared in the first team, they are resolute and tough at the back, Stoch is a tricky winger with a bright future and Rodriguez is also highly rated. They were third in the league at the outset and this result shouldn’t be underestimated.)

Ratings

Sorensen (7) – Didn’t have anything huge to do, but made the kind of saves you’d expect your keeper to make, handled well, organised pretty well and kicked reasonably.

Lund (8) – Did really well against the very quick Sinclair and added a great deal to our attacking play too. This was a very mature performance.

Davies – (8) – Won everything in the air and led a very impressive back four very well. At times he looked very classy and at others a bit more ragged, but he looks an excellent athlete and a very talented defender on this showing.

Lowry – (7) – Sometimes a bit anonymous, but then that’s no bad thing in a centre half, he’s not one of those players that does things that have you on the edge of your seat, but I can’t remember a mistake he’s made all season.

O’Halloran – (8) – Blondes have more fun it would seem, and the newly blonde O’Halloran looked like he was enjoying himself tonight. It wasn’t just about aggression; he was playing the ball nicely and getting forward. He looks a little quicker this season than last term too.

Salifou – (7) – Oi! Don’t start here, read it from the top! Oh all right then, well he’s not as big as I thought he’d be and he started slowly. He looked like a man who hadn’t played for a bit and who needed more time and space than he was being afforded. As the game went on he got better and showed some neat touches and nice link play. He’s got the happy habit of finding a bit of room, but doesn’t quite look sharp yet. An interesting debut, but I reckon there might just be a whole lot to come. If we can get his fitness up he could be a prospect.

Hogg – (8) – Another all action performance from Hoggy, got stuck in from the word go and thoroughly deserved his booking. He’s non-stop from the first minute to the last and can play a bit too.

Osbourne – (8) – Does what Gareth does for the first team, only where Gareth passes the ball thirty yards, Isaiah carries it. He’s intelligent, strong, big and still only nineteen. I think he’ll feature in one of the next few first team games.

Stieber – (7) – Good with the ball, but not the most influential half hour for young Zoltan. It was a bad challenge that put him out of the game. I don’t think it was anything serious and certainly hope not, but his ankle looked very painful.

Berger (9) – He was majestic, a class apart. He has the ability to absolutely dominate games at this level, and he was excellent tonight. His passing is fabulous; he worked hard, could have scored more than one and looked pretty much match fit too.

Harewood – (7) – Like a male Anne Robinson, he looks terrible but somehow manages to do ever so well for himself. He was awful at times in the first half, his first touch was poor, he wasn’t making runs, his anticipation and awareness were poor, but once he scored his first goal a different animal started to emerge. After his second he came on another step and a confident Marlon Harewood is a dangerous creature indeed. By the time he scored his third he looked a proper striker again. I don’t know what to make of him.

Subs.

Earls (8) More high tempo, high energy darts up and down the left side by the bandy legged swashbuckling full back extraordinaire. If I were a footballer I’d want to play like Danny Earls.

Herd & Mikaelsson (8) In ten minutes, Herd and Mikaelsson took Chelsea apart with some lovely short passing and movement, both could have scored and Herd thoroughly deserved his.

There you have it, another cracking night of reserve team football, and the last at Villa Park this season. Next up for top of the table Villa at Bescot it’s Tottenham on Bonfire night.

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So what you are saying is that Harewood is pretty much a confidence striker? Doesnt sound good considering his Spurs display.

But surely his confidence comes from being selected and scoring, which now that he has (albeit in the reserves) can only be good for us.

Excellent report Scott, as usual.

Nice to hear that Erik played well against the one player most of us have heard of for them.

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Davies – (8 ) – Won everything in the air and led a very impressive back four very well. At times he looked very classy and at others a bit more ragged, but he looks an excellent athlete and a very talented defender on this showing.

Would you expect him to start next sunday based on his display last night?

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Davies – (8 ) – Won everything in the air and led a very impressive back four very well. At times he looked very classy and at others a bit more ragged, but he looks an excellent athlete and a very talented defender on this showing.

Would you expect him to start next sunday based on his display last night?

It's hard to say. Based purely on this performance I'm not sure I would, but it's not just his performance that will decide, it's whether Knights performance against Utd is good enough to keep him in the team as well.

Personally I'd pick Davies over Knight on Sunday.

I bet they'll both train hard this week!

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