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Reserves versus Portsmouth: Match report


JohnCresswell
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By OutbyEaster

Just back from a very interesting reserves clash at Villa Park, some senior players on display for both sides, a cult hero in the making, drama to the last, and a promising debut.

Team news for starters, and there were some quality footballers on display.

For Villa, Senior players: Stuart Taylor, Jlloyd Samuel and Martin Laursen all back from injury, Lee Hendrie and Patrick Berger back from deepest darkest Stoke, and debutant Phil Bardsley.

For Portsmouth: the experienced Andy Griffin, David Thompson, and Svetoslav Todorov, along with occasional first teamers Frank Songo’o and Og Koroman.

I’m not going to go through the action, minute by minute if you want that it’s available elsewhere, but here are my thoughts:

We started well, and Bergers 25yd strike for the opener was a dream, they came back into it and despite Berger almost scoring from distance again with a deflected free kick, they deserved their equaliser.

At half time Laursen went off. I very much hope it was a tactical substitution, but I’m concerned as to how the substitution took place.

The four (not five.) Villa subs were warming up at half time on the pitch, when Lee Boyle our youth keeper came to the edge of the tunnel and called Bobby Olejnik over. After a brief conversation, Olejnik gestured with some urgency to Aaron Griffiths at the other end of the pitch that he needed to get himself to the dressing room sharpish.

Call me paranoid, but making planned tactical substitutions wouldn’t normally mean having the player that’s coming on having a little kickabout at half time and having to be hurried into the dressing room. I really hope Laursens okay, I suspect not. Let’s hope it’s nothing too serious.

After half time, it was immediately apparent that we were left with two very young and fairly small centre halves playing against a pretty physical, quick, strong Portsmouth front line. Green and Roome were always going to struggle against Todorov and the impressive Mvuemba and Nlome, and so it proved as Portsmouth briefly threatened to overwhelm us.

But, as is becoming the Villa way, we found some strength from somewhere, galvanised and went at them again, fully deserving our equaliser.

We didn’t deserve to win it to be fair, and the penalty we were awarded in stoppage time looked a little soft. Lee didn’t strike the spot kick too well but it came off the keeper perfectly for him to finish it off. A lot of credit should go to Jamie Ashdown for the save he made from the rebound to touch the ball onto the post, and we shouldn’t be too quick to jump on Lee, who had a pretty good game.

So, onto the new boy: Phil Bardsley.

Here’s what I can tell you, he looks younger than I thought he would, he’s not a mature Premiership footballer physically yet. He does however seem like a young man with his head screwed on, he doesn’t look like he likes losing, and he was one of those that battled to drag us back into the game, noticeably shouting instructions and encouragement to our youngsters.

He likes a tackle, and if this is the level of tackling intensity he brings to the reserves he’ll bring smiles to a lot of faces and grimaces to a lot of wingers in the first team. He seems to have excellent timing on them too and displayed a fair bit of bravery.

He passes reasonably well and looks like he wants to get it down and play, he looks neither particularly quick or particularly slow, can throw a ball a fair way and head it when he needs to. He does have a worrying tendency to come inside too often and leave the right flank open.

The overall impression is of an old head on young shoulders, not flashy but with no obvious weaknesses, and he looks a winner.

A quick run through and some ratings for our lads:

Stuart Taylor – made some decent stops, including one that came at him through a crowd in the second half that the watching Peter Shilton would have been proud of, but his handling wasn’t perfect by any means (7)

Phil Bardsley – As discussed – Promising (7)

Jlloyd Samuel – Looked a class above a lot of the youngsters on display, defended really well and made some excellent runs ( 8 )

Paul Green – Struggled at times but was full of effort (6)

Martin Laursen – Imperious in the first half, worryingly substituted (7)

Matthew Roome – Similar to Green (6)

Lee Hendrie – Some lovely touches, some nice runs, had two or three good chances in the first half and should have scored with at least one as he and Berger terrorised Portsmouth early on. Penalty wasn’t great, but he was committed and lively. An important note here is that he played on the left side of midfield in the first half and looked comfortable. (7)

William Ricketts – A grafter and tackler, certainly gave his all (7)

Tobias Mikaelsson – First time I’ve seen him, he a bit gangly, but if he fills out he could be a player. Not much pace but a good touch, and a willingness to keep at it.I’m not sure what to make of him. (7)

Steven Clancy – Largely passed me by I’m afraid. (5)

Patrick Berger - Showed his class, occasionally showed his age, played up front.His goal was excellent, and he worried Portsmouth throughout. ( 8 )

Aaron Griffiths – Second half substitute and tackling machine, brave as a lion. I don’t know much about him, but he looks like he might have a future. (7)

Barry Bannan – Second half substitute and an instant favourite for me. 3ft 6 inches of pure dynamite. Played right side of midfield and looked like he couldn’t believe his luck. Not sure if this was his reserve debut, but his enthusiasm was infectious and he worked hard while he was on, playing an important part in us winning our last minute penalty. Not sure he’s ever going to take the Premiership by storm, but you’ve got to the love the little guy that never gives up. A cult hero in the making for sure. ( 8 )

An enjoyable night out, and for nothing you can’t touch it for value for money, a reasonable crowd, the ref was okay, and Sarah Michelle-Gellar ran one of the lines. (Which was nice.) An equaliser late on and then almost the drama of a last second penalty winner added up to plenty of drama, but alas it was not to be.

It’s good to have reserve team football back, I can’t recommend it enough, and our next game will be at Bescot stadium against Chelsea on the 29th January. If you can make it then go, you won’t be sorry.

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Berger really impressed me today, showed he still had it

fantastic long range finish from him, also very impressed with his assists, was alert to win the ball and then put Hendrie through, who finished poorly, and for our second goal he toyed with portsmouths defence and slipped it to mikaelsson for a simple finish.

he also seemed to have more pace than i thought he would have

i will be very suprised if he isn't atleast on the bench on saturday

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Who is Sarah Michelle-Gellar ?

Mike

You are joking. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Daughter of that spoon bending guy

OK I made that last bit up

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