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Villa Reserves vs Portsmouth - Match Report


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Thanks once again to OutByEaster...

If we can make it look this easy then why not?

A two nil victory achieved at a canter for the second string tonight as we overcame Portsmouth in second gear and edged that little bit closer to the title.

Villa came out with a strong line up of Taylor in goal, a back four of (left to right) Lowry, Baker, Clark and Lund, a midfield featuring Barry Bannan, Salifou, Osbourne and Routledge and Williams up front with Delfouneso.

Mikaelsson, Forrester and Albrighton completed the show of strength from the bench and it looked a line up capable of beating anyone at this level.

Lowry has been out for a while but is usually a centre half, so I think it says something about how highly rated Nathan Baker is that he’s been forced out to the left hand side. Judging by the torture that the physio put him through in the warm up I would guess he’s been out with a groin strain, I’m surprised he didn’t get another one!

Our other walking wounded were also in attendance, Hogg and O’Halloran making their way along the touchline on crutches. Get well soon both.

Straight from kick-off we showed our attacking intent with Routledge taking on his fullback and forcing a corner, Bannan repeated the trick a minute or two after and played a ball in to Delfouneso that broke for Williams to fire over the bar.

Portsmouth were on the back foot, and in all honesty they never got off it. Baker was next to chance his arm, a Clark knock down falling invitingly for him to hit a volley that cannoned to safety off a post.

Our referee seemed a little agitated by proceedings, first booking Mark Wilson, a Portsmouth centre back for a foul on Bannan, then adding Osbourne’s name for what looked to me a decent tackle.

We broke again with Lund feeding Williams on a run into the box he was felled for what looked like it might be a penalty. The referee didn’t give it, but did issue Mr Wilson his second yellow card for the offence. You had to feel a bit sorry for him, both tackles were fouls and both could be construed as yellow card offences, but there was no real malice in either.

Portsmouth down to ten men and right up against it.

Chances fell to Lund who followed a great run with a weak shot at the keeper and Williams who found himself one on one with the keeper but couldn’t get round him and laid it back to Delfouneso whose touch was poor.

Routledge had an effort blocked and we passed the ball around very nicely but seemed to lack a cutting edge. It was clear that we had more in the tank though and as the half ended you felt a goal would arrive sooner or later.

The second half began amongst whispers of skulduggery down the road. Whispers and giggles.

From the kick off Delfouneso ran straight at the heart of the Portsmouth side and was a whisker away from making it all the way through, forcing a corner.

A couple of minutes later he turned the centre half well and shot just over, Bannan and particularly Routledge were destroying the fullbacks on both sides but despite crosses galore we didn’t seem able to get a head on anything.

Clark was handling their strapping centre forward brilliantly and Portsmouth were producing nothing. Salifou and Osbourne had the middle of the park sewn up and we rarely let them pick up the ball. I’d love to see the possession statistics for this game, I would think that Salifou had more possession than Portsmouth.

Finally on the hour mark, the increasingly influential Routledge nipped past his man for the umpteenth time, crossed from the byline and found Delfouneso. His header was going wide, but Ciaran Clark following up at the far post managed to bundle it past the keeper at the second attempt.

One nil up and showing no signs of letting them back into it, we continued to press, with Delfouneso again turning the centre half on the edge of the box but unable to get a shot in.

In close succession, Salifou shot over the bar and Williams almost connected with a cross. Routledge then produced a lovely bit of skill; near the touchline and facing away from goal he performed three or four stepovers before back heeling it through his own legs into space and putting a cross right onto Williams head which sadly he couldn’t put on target. A wonderful bit of skill, which was evened up as he kicked the flag accidentally from the resulting corner.

Both strikers had seemed a little off the pace, both finding space and picking the ball up well, both showing the ability to turn defenders but neither really threatening goal. Delfouneso looked good running with the ball but lacked the aggression or anticipation to bring his undoubted skills to bear.

I was just wondering how long it would be before we saw Mikaelsson when Delfouneso produced the moment of the match. Picking the ball up near the half way line he turned, beat a man and took a defender to the edge of the box before turning inside him and releasing a sublime finish that curled around the keeper and into the top corner; A stunning goal.

Forrester came on for Routledge on 79 as the rain started at Villa Park, and still we dominated. It was the kind of game where you couldn’t help but feel a little bit sorry for Portsmouth they had started the game outgunned and then become outmanned and they clearly just wanted it to end.

Osbourne set Williams up for another one on one that the keeper did well to keep out before forcing two good saves from him from headers.

Albrighton and Mikaelsson made late appearances and almost combined for a third but we seemed content enough to keep possession and see play out.

To give you an idea of how comfortably we did that, the referee played four minutes of time added on, the ball went out of play once and the only Portsmouth player who touched it in those four minutes was the keeper.

Some ratings;

Taylor (7) – He made a decent save in the first ten minutes, not a great save, but not bad and then erm…. I think he touched the ball once in the second half. There didn’t even seem to be much need for shouting. If anything I think he was probably lonely.

Lund (7) - Solid. He’s always solid, got forward well today and had a couple of efforts on goal. Dealt well with Portsmouth’s big number nine and came out on top in their pushing contest.

Clark (8.) – Did really well, winning everything at the back and getting into their box whenever possible. Made a couple of very good covering tackles and never lost a ball in the air, deserved his goal and looks very capable indeed.

Baker (7) – Another who did well, it’s hard to believe he’s still only sixteen; Big, strong and assured.

Lowry (7) – I can’t get used to him at left back, but he seems to be enjoying the extra freedom and is doing a good job down the flanks. Having a centre half behind him probably helps Bannan a fair bit as well.

Routledge (8.) – An excellent performance, he beat the full back on countless occasions and produced a succession of crosses. He’s got tricks and a burst of pace and most importantly an end product. I think we’ll see more of him from the bench in the coming weeks.

Osbourne (7) – Tireless as ever and passed the ball well today, he and Salifou seem to be everywhere at times and he went a long way towards ensuring we dominated the middle of the park.

Salifou (7) – As with Osbourne, they took control of the game from the opening minute and never let up. His passing was good tonight and he looks strong on the ball. The only thing missing was the long range shooting we saw earlier in the season, he seems to have given it up.

Bannan (7) – A quiet evening for Barry, he only created about a dozen chances, only beat his full back about twenty times and his passing was only nearly perfect. He just lacked that moment of magic though that I’ve almost come to expect from him. He’s capable of so much I almost feel disappointed when I don’t go away talking about him.

Delfouneso (7) – A very mixed bag from Nathan, his overall performance was okay, his goal a fantastic piece of individual play, but we only saw him in flashes. The challenge for him is to put together enough of those magic moments to make magic performances. He is explosive but sometimes doesn’t take a chance and throw himself at things, he sometimes holds onto it too long and loses out or takes a touch too many, but running with the ball he’s a real danger. He could learn a thing or two from the watching Joe Jordan about playing in the box, but then he could probably teach him a thing or two about playing outside it.

Williams (7) – He gave us a presence up front and battled for everything. He’s not a bad target man but will need to improve on his finishing if he’s to progress.

It wouldn’t be fair to rate the subs as none were really on long enough but Forrester showed flashes of his talent, Albrighton produced a couple of decent crosses and Mikaelsson showed his excellent touch as you’d expect.

A comfortable win that sets us up nicely to pick up a trophy at Fulham next week.

We’ll be back at Villa Park on 29th April against Arsenal to celebrate

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Top stuff Scott. It's just like being there :) Sounds like one of the easier games of the season and I'm intrigued by Baker. He sounds like a star of the future.

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AYe, a ;lovely read, again.

I'm slightly confused over one thing though - as we clearly dominated the game, made loads of chances and so on, was the finishing largely woeful? was their 'keeper outstanding? or did we just Arsenal about a lot?

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Judging by the report, it did seem as if Williams missed a hatful of one on ones Pete alright. Tho' he is just back from injury.

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