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Chelsea Reserves 1-1 Villa Reserves


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Griffin Park is a lovely place to visit. Set amongst the terraces of downtown Brentford it reminded me of the days before Sky and multi millionaire average footballers. Certainly when Steve Sidwell and Claudio Pizarro joined Chelsea they wouldn’t have expected to be playing here, and perhaps Shaun Maloney must be longing for the warmth of a Glaswegian pub, rather than the cold crisp spring air of reserve football in West London

As we walked towards the stadium a Chelsea fan came up and gave me a ticket; who said manners were dead? Reserves football seems to bring it out in the majority of fans, you can sit with the opposition and just enjoy the game. I guess most fans don’t feel this is a matter of life and death, and you don’t have to bite your nails down to the quick.

As we sat down at the front, we had a little word with Nathan; congratulating on his great goal against Chelsea. He seemed a little surprised that anyone recognised him, but not as surprised as we were when he said he wasn’t in the starting eleven. Villa put out a mixture of youth and experience. Those with first team experience, Taylor, Routledge, Salifou, Osbourne and Maloney, mixed with some of our talented youngsters such as Barry Bannan and Ciaran Clark and a few others. Martin O’Neill was on hand to run the rule over them, and for Chelsea Frank Arnesen with a young lady friend (Frank sang the words of ‘Nothing compares to you’ by Sinead O’Connor in the build up).

In the first ten minutes I thought that Chelsea would completely overrun us; Sidwell and the young Argentinan striker Franco di Santo seemed to be running the show. Pizarro the Peruvian striker seemed to be playing in midfield; like Ballack he must be thinking he wished he stayed in Munich rather than being forced to be played with Chelsea’s expensively created reserves team. After this Villa started to find their feet. Kevin MacDonald came into the technical area and urged on his team. Before this Taylor had been screaming at the back four to get to the ball. After the shaky start we started to play some decent stuff. Sam Williams, our big target man upfront may not make it into the premiership, but I can see him doing well in the lower leagues; he can hold up the ball well, is decent in the air and runs his heart out. He was teamed with Shaun Maloney, who worked his socks off, but seemed to be missing something throughout the game. He does look like a little lost boy. You can’t doubt his talent, but he’s just a bit lightweight. Routledge played on the right, and he looked decent enough, striking a venomous strike in the first twenty minutes, but like Maloney didn’t impose himself. On the left side Barry Bannan did what Barry Bannan does best. He ran himself ragged and was out best player in the first half; maybe he won’t make it at Villa, but he sure won’t fail through lack of effort. In the middle of the park Salifou (captaining the side) and Osbourne, did ok, but didn’t do anymore. I just can’t see Salifou making it; he has some nice touches, but again failed to impose himself. Osbourne is an enigma; he’s incredibly athletic and strong. He’s determined though not particularly aggressive. He played some nice football and had a couple of decent strikes, but at times is easily caught for possession. Of the back four, most of them had little to do in the first half; Lowry playing at left back impressed me, and Clark and Baker looked solid enough. Taylor had to make one incredible save, but apart from that didn’t have much to do. What did worry me, was either Taylor isn’t very good at communicating or the rest of the team aren’t understanding him. One ball in the first half was drifting into the Villa area and both Osbourne and Taylor, under only a little pressure both went for it. Osbourne got their first and nearly scored an incredible own goal.

Something must have been said at halftime, because Villa came out in the second half with the bit very firmly between their teeth. It was only when Nathan Delfouenso came on, though did we find the next gear; surprisingly on for Bannan with Maloney making a move out to the left. Whilst Maloney worked tirelessly up front, we seemed to be toothless, with Delfouenso on we seemed to have a focal point. Its been said many times before, but he could be the next one to follow on the production line of home made strikers; whether he will be a Luke Moore or Gabriel Agbonalhor only time will be tell, but at the moment the signs are very good. Then when Harry Forrester came on for Maloney, we were very much in the ascendency. The ridiculously mulleted Stoch for Chelsea had seemed to be their only threat, when all of a sudden a long ball from Chelsea caused utter confusion between Taylor and Baker and di Santo scored.

The goal came as a total shock; despite all the ‘quality’ of Pizzaro and Sidwell (note to MON, don’t buy him) Villa had been the better side. More verve, energy, and for the main part quality. I looked at the Villa players; the shoulders dropped, but it was only for a second. Villa went for the jugular immediately and it felt that with only ten minutes we wouldn’t just equalise, but we could win. The excellent Forrester (could he be the new Ashley Young) drifted in a corner and Baker headed in. With six minutes to go we had a couple of other excellent chances, but it wasn’t to be.

Overall we deserved to win, but sometimes it isn’t to be your night. O’Neill will have come away with the impression that over the next few years he will have to buy big, but also that this set of players should give some selection nightmares. For Chelsea despite throwing money at the problem, its hard to see many of these players ever getting the breakthrough whilst big money rules the roost at Stanford Bridge.

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Cheers Paul,

Sounds like a good night. That's you and the Chelsea site that say our goal was scored by Baker and the Villa OS saying Clark. I'll trust you in this one and say congratulations to the sixteen year old.

Good to hear Nathan had such a big influence from the bench, that's a role he might soon be performing on a bigger stage.

Another step nearer picking up the big pot!

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Great to read the report.

Also put this on the main forum thread, but found out last night we could watch the Arsenal and Liverploop reserves via their TV channels as a result of our Setanta sub. on Sky.

Arsenal then went on to say they are covering the Villa game, so we're hoping it wasn't a fluke and - if it wasn't the game might be available for some to watch depending on your TV packages if like myself and my partner, going to a reserves game isn't possible.

So, if we can finally nail this title down as well, it might be the final against Liverploop is available as well via their TV station.


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The OS have changed theirs to Baker now, so it looks like you are spot on.

I updated my reserve thread straight after the match last night using the Villa O/S match report as my guide (as opposed to the minute updates) and Baker was the scorer then. Perhaps they changed after that then re-changed back, cuz I never saw the goal attributed to Clark anywhere :? Strange.

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