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Villa Reserves vs. small heath – Match Report


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OutByEaster? wrote:

St Andrew, patron saint of Scotland, younger brother of St Peter who you’ve heard of from the big book. It can’t be easy being the often-overlooked ugly brother to the famous one who grabs all the glory.

Especially when they keep beating you on your own patch.

So, off to St Andrews to see two much strengthened sides battle it out for the right to say they’re the best second best eleven in Brum, and Villa didn’t let me down, coming away with a fine two-goal victory.

Villa started with Taylor in goal and a back four from left to right of Lund, Davies, Lowry and Herd behind Berger, Hogg, Osbourne and Salifou. Up front a first game together for our second string strike force of Luke Moore and Marlon Harewood.

small heath responded by giving games to occasional first teamers, Colin Doyle, Stuart Parnaby, Mat Sadler, Olivier Tebily, Franck Queudrue, the evil Damien Johnson, Neil Danns and Garry O’Connor.

Notice how many of those players have first names that their mothers couldn’t spell.

It started pretty sedately with a long-range effort from Berger comfortably wide, then after good work from Salifou, Harewood attempting an audacious overhead kick which sadly didn’t quite work out.

Lowry became the first player booked for a foul and from the resulting free kick there was a scare for Villa with O’Connor hitting the post.

Half chances fell to Moore and Lowry with Osbourne working well in midfield before Berger and Harewood combined really well to leave big Marlon racing in to thump a shot past the keeper that hit the inside off the post before bouncing clear.

The deadlock was finally broken after 43 minutes when Salifou danced through the midfield and played a lovely weighted through ball to Luke Moore, who chested it down neatly and calmly slotted home.

There was time for Queudrue to pick up a booking for a poor challenge on Salifou before the players departed for a bit of a warm. In fairness, it’d been a pretty even half.

Villa started the second half well and looked much more comfortable right from the off, a couple of good moves very early on in the half set the tone and we looked very capable of scoring on the break.

Lowry headed just over from a Berger free kick, and Berger himself saw another sighter fly just past the post.

Hogg was replaced with Albrighton on 65 minutes, with Salifou moving inside, and we seemed to benefit both from the extra width and from Salifou’s ability to influence things from the centre.

Danns was finding him a handful and clattered through the back of him with more than a little malice and a fair amount of intent. It was a tackle that could have seen a red card, although Salifou can consider himself lucky that the referee didn’t see him stamp on Danns in reply.

A yellow card was deemed sufficient for Danns and he would have been relieved to see Harewood replaced by Delfouneso shortly afterwards. Marlon was definitely keeping an eye on him.

We looked to have finally gotten a firm grip on the game, but were struggling to create clear-cut chances.

Luckily Patrik Berger doesn’t need clear-cut chances, and picking the ball up out wide with seemingly nothing on, he rifled home a stunning goal from around four yards outside the corner of the small heath penalty area. The keeper got absolutely nowhere near it: A thunderous strike.

Berger was replaced by Mikaelsson soon after, and Villa continued to create chances without ever quite looking to take them. Frustration was getting the better of the opposition and they reverted to type with a series of late scything challenges and two footed lunges.

It didn’t matter though and the longer the game went on the more dominant we became, a third goal eluded us though and by the time we happily settled for two nil the air was heavy with the sound of knuckles being dragged forlornly off home.

I know it’s only the reserves, but it’s always nice to remind them where they stand.

Well done to Kevin MacDonald and the boys and a safe journey home to Ian Taylor who looked to be thoroughly enjoying it.

Some ratings:

Taylor (7) – Didn’t have a great deal to do, but when he did his positioning was good and he dealt pretty well with any crosses into our box. Solid.

Lund (7) – It took me an hour to realise he was playing on his weaker side, it’s the second game in a row he’s played at left back and he looks just as comfortable on either side. So much so that I’m not sure any more if it is his weaker side. Can anyone help?

Herd (6) – Looked to be struggling a bit with Milojevic on the wing, but battled well and worked hard. Personally I think he’s a better midfielder than right back.

Davies (7) – Good things and bad things tonight, never looked really troubled at the back, but struggled to make an impact with his distribution or when getting forward.

Lowry (8) – I thought Shane was excellent tonight, O’Conner is a difficult man to play against, and Shane had him in his pocket the whole game. He looked a threat from set pieces and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.

Hogg (6) – Struggled to get involved and didn’t have the impact on the game that he’s capable of, but it was a disciplined performance with moments of promise.

Salifou (7) – Another good performance, likes time on the ball and knows what he’s doing with it. I think he looks better in the middle and he was often far too clever for the small heath midfield pair. Dealt with the physical stuff pretty well and looked lively.

Osbourne (8) – A really good performance from Osbourne, who got stronger and stronger as the game wore on, his passing was good, he worked hard, covered a lot of ground and carried the ball at the defence on innumerable occasions. Tireless.

Berger (7) – Scored a very good goal, and put in a decent overall performance. With Berger you always know that he’s capable of turning a game.

Moore (7) – His goal was very well taken, and he got in to some decent positions but couldn’t quite find a second. Not Luke’s busiest game.

Harewood (7) – Worked hard, bullied the small heath defence a bit and made some decent chances. His movement was very good tonight, and with Berger and Salifou behind you that’ll always get you chances. He was unlucky not to score.

Of the subs, Mikaelsson was only on for a few minutes but looks increasingly comfortable on the ball. Albrighton is an old fashioned winger and it’s good to see him back. Delfouneso looks a more mature player every time I see him and his performance tonight was probably as good as he’s been, he held the ball up well and linked well with the midfield but couldn’t fashion himself a chance.

Next up for us, West Ham at the Bescot stadium on January 7th.

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