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Aston Villa Game 1 2009

Less than twenty four hours after the first team had graced the hallowed turf for the final match of the 2008/2009 Premier League season, twenty five life-long Villa fans turned up hoping to emulate their heroes; with club legends Chris Nicholl, Tony Morley, Pat Heard and Mark Burke acting as Managers and Players respectively Villa Park was literally buzzing!

Monday 25th May 2009
Aston Villa Home vs Aston Villa Away Game 1
Villa ParkK.O: 11.00am
Legends: Chris Nicholl, Tony Morley, Pat Heard and Mark Burke
Match Officials: Tony Lloyd, Phil Taylor, Gary Taylor.

The players emerged from the tunnel to the cheers of their family and friends and made their way towards the centre of the pitch for the pre-match line up and team shots. The game itself began with the both teams showing some early nerves, with the home side seeming to settle slightly quicker than their opponents. As a result, it was the men wearing the claret who created the first opportunity by getting themselves a corner which was well defended by the away team.

In the eleventh minute the game sprang to life thanks to the opening goal; Roger Dale sliding a nice ball through the away defence for Tom Pugh to collect, round the goalkeeper and slot home to take the score to one-nil. The goal seemed to inject some much needed urgency into the away side and they came back strongly and started to apply some pressure; a solid and well-timed tackle from home legend Mark Burke breaking up one of the many attacks coming down the right wing.

In the twenty fifth minute the home side had the chance to extend their early lead when centre forward Fitzgerald was played through with only Steve Exley to beat in goal – Exley pulling off a great reaction block to his right to keep his side in the match. A few minutes later and another chance was spurned, this time Tom Pugh easily lost his marker on the edge of the box before opening his body and hitting a left foot shot just wide of the left post.

It took until the 39th minute for the home side to finally double their advantage – Andy Joeres crossing the ball in from the left wing, and captain Tom Pugh heading it into the bottom right hadn corner for his second goal of the game. Just short of half time, Pugh grabbed his hat-trick when he rounded the keeper and fired the ball home after being played in on the left of the area by team mate Baljinder Singh.

On the stroke of half time the away side conjured a goal from absolutely nothing to pull them back into contention with Steven Seatherton receiving the ball in the centre of the pitch 40 yards out and hitting an outrageous first time shot with his right foot into the top left corner

Half Time: Aston Villa Home 3 – 1 Aston Villa Away

The second half began in much the same fashion as the first half with the home side having more possession and creating the better chances. Steve Exley was very much the last line of defence for the away team; saving a strike from Fitzgerald, blocking a shot from Andy Joeres and racing from his line to tackle Mark Taylor after he was played through down the right – all this happening inside the first fifteen minutes.

Midway through the half it was the away side that got an unlikely second goal completely against the run of play. Matthew Salmon won possession in his own half then played a great through ball for Marc Hudson to run onto - his shot brilliantly saved by keeper, Ian Pearce. But captain Jason Godfrey made no mistake with his follow up, hitting it low and hard into the bottom corner to close up the gap.

With the game finely balanced, both sides knew that the next goal would prove crucial and it was the home side that eventually got it. Andy Fisher played a perfect slide-rule pass through the defence for Anthony Hinsley to collect, take forward, and then delicately chip over the onrushing keeper into the net for the Home teams fourth goal.

In the 40th minute it was goal scorer Anthony Hinsley who created a chance for team mate Andy Joeres - his through ball finding Joeres clean through on the right of the area but his touch letting him down.

Full Time: Aston Villa Home 4 – 2 Aston Villa Away

Home Team: Pearce, Franklin, Morley, Shore, Dale, Singh, Joeres, Adams,Fitzgerald, Mathieson, Pugh (c), Fisher, Dale, Taylor, Hinsley

Away Team: Exley, Bazley, Heard, Robertson, Salmon, Syed, Seatherton, Townsend, Hudson, Godfrey (c), Clements, Godfrey, Henderson

Mascots: William Pugh and Matthew Denford

Man of the Match (home): Tom PughMan of the Match (away): Steven SeathertonMoment of the Match: Steve Exley