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Aston Villa Game 1 2012

Two teams of proud Aston Villa fans arrived at Villa Park on a bright sunny Saturday morning, raring to go and eager to impress their loyal band of supporters. With the pitch looking in excellent nick as usual, the playing conditions couldn't be better, and we were all set for a tremendously exciting game.

Saturday 12th May 2012
Aston Villa Home vs Aston Villa Away
Kick Off: 11:00am
Game: 1
Match Officials: Julian Hitchcock, Stuart Haden, Adrian Garrard and Tim Vine

The Away team, who were kitted out in white, kicked things off but it was the Home team whoe were first to carve out the first opening, with midfielder Steven Diggory unleashing a deadly right foot shot on target from 30 yards out, which was saved only by the goalie's fingertips. The resulting corner was put into the danger zone by Jay Denny, who would continue to pull the strings in the middle of the park, but the goalie did well to palm the ball away and relieve the pressure from his defence.

A good attacking move from the Away side almost saw them take the lead on the 12th min, with Scott Whensley sending in a dangerous low cross which was met by the onrushing James Leeson, but he failed to hit the target. The No 7 threatened again when Whensley again sent him through with a lovely pass with the outside of his foot, he twisted the defender like a corkscrew before forcing the goalie to make a low save to his left.

Chances were falling thick and fast for the Away team and on the 24th min; only the post prevented them taking the lead. After robbing possession from Jason Shaw, Richard Leeson surged forward into the box unchallenged, but could only watch in disbelief after his shot came back of the right post and Scott Whensley’s follow up shot was turned onto the same post by the impressive Gareth Roberts.

Again, the Home keeper was kept busy, forcing a save from a low Phil Coles shot. Only seconds later keeper was forced to save his team again after possession was given away cheaply near the goalmouth by the Away side, allowing Scott Whensley to get in a powerful left-foot shot towards the bottom left corner, but the keeper matched the effort, pouncing on the rebound as well.

Eventually the Home team picked up a gear, with Steven Meredith showing real confidence by taking the ball forward from deep and attempting a shot from 40 yards out, which worried Richard Allen in the Away goal, but the effort narrowly missed the target.

This provided the Home team with some encouragement, and on 30 mins they took the lead in textbook counter attacking form. It all seemed safe for the Away team after winning a corner on the 29th min. But once their keeper punched the ball to safety, the Home team were quick to turn defence into attack, ploughing forward in numbers at a ferocious speed: First Matt Hook fed Jay Denny with a chip forward, then the No 8 looked up to find Steven Diggory making a great run forward, the No 10 in turn played the ball across goal onto the onrushing Nick Hook, who coolly placed the ball into the bottom left corner. The goal epitomized the beauty of the game and placed itself as a contender for the goal of the season. (1-0)

It was almost 2-0 a few minutes later following confusion at the back for the Away team. Nick Hook anticipated a loose back pass to the keeper from Jason Shaw, and created space with some neat skill, however the shot lacked enough power to beat the keeper.

With the first half coming to a close, the Home team had a wonderful opportunity to go into the break with a comfortable lead, following an excellent low cross from Matt Hook towards the back post. It seemed that Mark Taylor was destined to score, however unfortunately he miscued the shot and the chance went a begging; Taylor was probably as surprised as everyone else that the ball had reached him through the sea of bodies.

The referee brought an end to this evenly sided match, with the Away team looking stronger in the beginning and the Home team ending the half in control.

Half-Time: Aston Villa Home 1 - 0 Aston Villa Away

The 2nd half took a while before there were any real efforts on goal, with both teams struggling to regain their passing rhythm. It was the Home team though who created the first opportunity, Steven Diggory displayed some nifty footwork in the middle of the park before passing it to Gary Williams, who saw the space open up in front of him and went for the long range shot, however his effort was inches wide of the goal.

The ever influential Jay Denny found Diggory at the back post with a looping cross which the No 10 met but was unable to get his header on target. The missed chance proved a pivotal moment in the game, as the Away team would shortly equalise a few minutes later. The move started when Scott Whensley played the No 17 through with an exquisite through ball, cutting the defence open. Andy Cooke took the ball confidently into the box and dipped his right shoulder before unleashing a powerful strike with his left foot into the top right corner, catching even the keeper by surprise. The celebration wasn’t so bad either! (1-1)

Having brought the game level, the Away side were now in the ascendency, pushing forward in numbers. In the 60th min they won a corner which was taken by James Leeson. The corner found Jason Shaw unmarked in the box, but the striker was unable to connect with the cross and the defence recovered quickly to relieve the pressure.

As the game went on the Away team seemed to get stronger, carving out another chance in the 65th min. Scott Whensley stole possession back in the midfield and played a through ball with the outside of his boot to winger, James Leeson, who sent in a low cross towards Andy Cooke. However, a terrific display of defending from Phil Coles, who was able to stretch out a leg and deflect it wide just in time, prevented the attacker an easy tap in.

Despite the early pressure from the Away side, it was actually the Home team who regained the lead, with Jay Denny showing calmness and composure to slot the ball into the bottom left corner, after being put through one-on-one with the keeper, by a delightful little chip over the defence by Diggory. (2-1)

However, just like in the first half, the Away side showed great character to draw the game level. And it was another fine goal from Andy Cooke, who received the pass from Ryan Leeson and had time in the box to open his body up and side foot his shot in the top right corner, leaving the keeper with no chance. (2-2)

Having drawn the game level, the Away side would then take the lead in the 79th min. The goal came about from a free-kick after Scott Whensley had his heels clipped towards the bottom right corner of the box. Lee Daykin, who had swung in several dangerous crosses already up until this point, sent the free kick into the box, and it was met by the leaping Neil Geeling, guiding his header into the top corner, evading both the keeper and the man on the post. (2-3)

The goal proved to be the last major incident of the game, with the Away team’s defence holding firm from any late Home team attacks. The game was certainly hugely enjoyable and it was sure to have pleased the spectators who witnessed a comeback of epic proportions from the Away team on the day.

Full-Time: Aston Villa Home 2 - 3 Aston Villa Away

Man of the Match Home: Luke Farrington
Man of the Match Away: Neil Geeling
Moment of the Match: Andy Cooke

Home Team: Gareth Roberts (C), Nigel Shaw, Luke Farrington, Steven Meredith, James Taylor, Mark Taylor, Jay Denny, Matt Hook, Steven Diggory, Nick Hook, James Perry, Mark Feehan, Gary Williams, Stuart Hayton
Mascot: Albie Hook

Away Team: Richard Allen, Neil Geeling, Steve Leeson, David Stanton, James Leeson, Ryan Leeson, Scott Whensley, Julian Leeson, Richard Leeson, Jason Shaw, Simon Waterhouse, Phil Coles, Andy Cooke, Ben Leeson, Lee Daykin