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Best in the land! Academy Final vs. Man City – Match Report


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By OutByEaster

Another terrific result in a season of achievement for the kids this afternoon as Villa’s under 18’s triumphed over Manchester City’s FA Youth Cup winners at Villa Park.

A fine 2-0 victory a fitting end to a season full of promise.

If it’s the under 18’s at Villa Park then it’s raining, and it whilst it wasn’t the monsoon we had against Arsenal last week, it was another wet afternoon.

No team sheets on arrival, apparently Manchester City announced their team very late on. Perhaps they were waiting for Mr Shinawatra to fax his selection through. On arrival the Villa side listed were much as you’d expect.

Parish in goal, with a back four (left to right) of Lowry, Baker, Clark and Lichaj; Forrester, Bannan, Herd and Albrighton stretched across the middle and Delfouneso and Collins up front.

City leapt out of the blocks and were close to opening the scoring in the first minute, the lively Mak played in by Ball and shooting just wide. Mak repaid the favour and Ball tested Parish again after four minutes, with the City front pairing looking very dangerous.

City dominated the opening fifteen minutes and looked much the better of the two sides.

Villa started to come into things after the opening though and the back line started to snuff out the threat, we were struggling to create though and needed something to give us a chance.

It came when City’s centre half Mee dallied on the ball then slipped with James Collins bearing down on him, Collins pounced on the loose ball and finished emphatically to put us one nil up.

The excellent Marc Albrighton was starting to come more and more into things and was really testing his full back, putting in a number of really good crosses. Collins almost added a second from one of them with a lovely turn and shot, which the keeper dealt with well.

We were starting to get on top, and after a good move, Lowry played a ball in to Collins who showed great strength in holding off the centre half before laying the ball into the path of the onrushing Herd. He struck a sweet drive high into the City net from just outside the box to give us a two nil lead.

City were less dangerous, but still had a chance to pull one back after poor marking left Scott Kay free on the edge of our six yard box from a corner. Thankfully he headed well wide.

Mee reproduced his calamitous error again on 40 minutes, with Delfouneso the beneficiary this time round, but with only the keeper to beat he hesitated in pulling the trigger then took the ball too far wide to get a shot in and let City off the hook.

They almost took advantage a minute later when Mak again found himself through on goal, his shot deflecting just wide off the legs of Parish.

Half time came with Villa two up after forty-five minutes of really entertaining football.

The second half was an altogether scrappier affair with City trying all they could to breach a defence that dealt with everything they threw at us really well and Delfouneso and Collins threatening on the break.

The Fonz made an excellent run at the heart of City’s defence on 55 minutes, bursting through two defenders but was unable to get his shot around the keeper who saved well.

With three subs on by the time we reached the 65th minute, City tried everything, but our defence was rock solid, and Delfouneso almost added to our total after good work from Bannan; again the keeper proved the equal of his effort.

Herd volleyed over, Collins curled a long shot wide and City’s Boyota had a header over our bar, but neither team could find a breakthrough.

We brought Weimann on for Forrester with 5 minutes to go and looked like we’d see it out. A superb free kick from City sub Poole that crashed against the bar, hit the back of the keeper on the way out and then was cleared was the closest they came and when it didn’t go in, City seemed to finally accept their fate.

The final whistle went and it was Villa’s players that celebrated a deserved victory over a very good side.

For the second time in a week, the Trinity Road offered up it’s applause to a Villa side raising a trophy and were treated to our boys rendition of “We are the Champions.”

A great season brought to a finish for the Under 18’s in the best way possible, and they’ve deserved all of their plaudits.

Congratulations (again!) to Tony McAndrew and his team; the best in the land.

I’ll not go into ratings, but would have to say that today belonged to the graft of Collins and Herd, the guile of Albrighton and the talents of our back four. This team has been exceptional this year, and many of them will be involved on Wednesday at Anfield in the reserves final.

There have been some big games in recent weeks for these youngsters; they’ve shown that for many of them there will be bigger games to come.

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