The playing conditions were perfect when our 2015 players took to the hallowed Villa Park turf, and the watching fans were in for a treat as the Villa players served up a fantastic encounter. The game was end to end stuff and the players maintained a fantastic standard of football throughout and it was only excellent defending and impressive goalkeeping from both sides that kept the score-line so low. The game ended up 1-1 and there could be no complaints about the result, as neither team deserved to end up on the losing side after giving it their all throughout the 90mins.
Date: Monday 26th May 2015
Venue: Villa Park
Aston Villa (Home) vs Aston Villa (Away)
Kick Off: 15:00 pm
Legends/Managers: Mark Burke & Tony Daley
Match Officials: Stuart Haden, Brandon Haden, Gary Dolphin & Paul McDaid
The Away team kicked off the match wearing the change strip of White shirts and Claret shorts, and they started confidently, playing the ball about well and they created the 1st chance of the game within the opening 2mins for Striker Steven Diggory. The No 11 received the ball from strike partner Andy Clenaghan on the edge of the area and fired in a left foot shot, however he dragged his shot just wide of the right hand post.
The Home team responded to the early scare and started to impose themselves on the game, the midfield duo of Jon Swift and Scott Riddell were linking up well with Legend Mark Burke and causing problems for the Away side, however their defence was holding firm. The Away team’s No 5 Richard Leeson then went on a surging run and freed Clenaghan with a defence splitting pass, however the No 9 couldn’t get enough on his goal attempt and Neil Barnes collected it comfortably.
The game was being played at a hectic pace now and both sides were keen to open the scoring. Next to try his luck was the Home team’s Jon Swift, the left midfielder collected the ball 30 yards out and drove towards goal before unleashing a powerful right foot effort, however the Away GK Jake Grogan got down well and saved the ball lowdown at his right hand post.
The Home team continued to press and Wayne Batsford tested the keeper with an effort from distance, however Grogan collected it comfortably beneath his crossbar. Home Legend Mark Burke fired in a curling effort shortly afterwards, however Grogan was again up to the task, saving well at his left hand post. The Away defence were keeping the Home side to efforts from outside the area and Jon Swift fired in another good shot from 20 yards soon after, however Grogan once again collected the ball with ease.
With 30mins on the clock the pace wasn’t letting up and both sides were still attacking with intent and throwing themselves into challenges. The Away side went on the attack and brought the best out of Home keeper Neil Barnes. The impressive keeper’s 1st save was from Diggory’s well struck effort from fully 30 yards out, from the resulting corner Barnes did brilliantly to beat away an effort from Away Captain Balmforth. However it was to be 3rd time lucky for the Away team. Steven Diggory played a quick corner to Richard Leeson and received the return pass on the left side of the area, he drove into the box un-opposed and his well struck low shot just made it past the despairing Barnes at the near post. It had been a long-time coming but finally the game had its opening goal (0-1)!
The Home team came right back at the Aways and when Lee Strain was released clear on goal from a clever head-flick by Batsford he looked destined to even things up immediately, however Jake Grogan raced out of his goal to block his effort on the edge of the area. Back at the other end goal-scorer Diggory had a decent chance to double his side’s lead, however his effort was just too high. The chances were coming thick and fast and Home midfielder Scott Riddell almost scored after an effort from a corner, however the impressive Jake Grogan held onto his effort comfortably.
Right on halftime the Home team had a decent chance to square things up, when the skilful No 6 Jack Bennett played a clever one-two with Scott Riddell, however his resulting effort from 10 yards out was hit too high much to the relief of the Away defence. The referee blew his whistle moments later with the Away team retaining their narrow one goal advantage. It had been a breathless 1st half and if it hadn’t been for excellent goalkeeping and stout defending from both teams, the goal count would undoubtedly have been much higher!
Half Time: Aston Villa (Home) 0 - 1 Aston Villa (Away)
The Home team kicked off the 2nd half determined to get back into the game quickly, and they started with real intent with Wayne Batsford forcing a corner immediately after the restart. The big striker floated the ball into the area himself and it was met 1st time by the impressive centre half R. Barret, his left foot strike was sweetly struck, however much to his team’s disappointment it crashed off the bar and away to safety.
The Claret and Blues continued to press and the lively looking sub Jed O’Donnell broke clear on the left and flashed a dangerous looking cross across the area, however Away keeper Jake Grogan was alert to the danger and beat the ball away. However it wasn’t long before the Home side got themselves back on level terms. With 60mins gone their Legend Mark Burke freed Lee Strain on the left side of the defence with a perfect pass, the No 11 collected the ball and picked out Jed O’Donnell with a perfectly weighted cutback and the No 14 made no mistake, expertly side footing the ball into the far corner of the net with his right foot (1-1).
With an hour gone the match was there for the taking and the re-invigorated Home side sensed an opportunity to capitalise on their equaliser, however Scott Riddell’s well struck effort from 18 yards out was just too high and sailed over the bar. Back came the Away side and Steven Knight tried an audacious chip from the edge of the area after being set free by Diggory, however his skilful effort was also just too high.
Back came the Home side and the ever dangerous Lee Strain tried a curling effort with his left foot, however Grogan was in the right place at the right time again and gathered the ball comfortably. At the other end Away striker Andy Clenaghan had a chance when he was set free, however he couldn’t get enough height on his chip and Barnes saved well.
Back came the Home side and when Strain gathered a clever through ball from Captain Mustafa Fuat and turned his defender on the edge of the area he looked odds on to put his side ahead, however his dinked effort with his left foot drifted agonisingly wide of the right hand post.
With both teams getting an extra lease of life from their 2nd half subs there was no left up in the pace of the game and the play raged from end to end. The Away side’s Steven Diggory was a constant threat and when he latched onto the ball on the edge of the area after Barnes narrowly failed to clear he looked like breaking the deadlock, however much to the Home side’s relief his clever chip drifted just wide of the left hand post.
With less than 10mins left the Home team had a gilt edged chance when the ball fell to R. Barrett at the back post, however the no nonsense defender couldn’t keep his shot down and it sailed high over the crossbar. At the other end Steven Hughes tried his luck from 25 yards out, however his fierce effort was beaten away by Home keeper Neil Barnes. With the final minutes ticking down the pace of the game finally started to tell and despite all the huge efforts from both sides to find a winner the game was destined to end in a draw and the referee’s whistle confirmed that moments later.
It had been an incredible, action packed game, with a host of chances at both ends and how it ended 1-1 we’ll never know! Both side’s goalkeepers and defences deserve huge credit for maintaining such a low scoreline and the watching Villa fans gave both teams a deserved round of applause as they left the pitch.
Full Time: Aston Villa (Home) 1 - 1 Aston Villa (Away)
Man of the Match (Home): R. Barrett
Man of the Match (Away): Jake Grogan
Moment of the Match: Neil Barnes
Home Team: Neil Barnes, Trevor Spence, Mark Burke, R. Barrett, Richard Metcalfe, Jack Bennett, Scott Riddell, Jon Swift, Wayne Batsford, Mustafa Fuat (C), Lee Strain,
Jed O’Donnell, Richard Webb, Stuart Taylor
Home Mascot: Ronnie Metcalfe
Away Team: Jake Grogan, Daniel Church, Tony Daley, Robert Thorpe, Richard Leeson, Chris Calland, Robert Evans, Andrew Balmforth (C), Andy Clenaghan, Steven Howkins, Steven Diggory, Richard Jacques, Eddie Bagnall, Steven Hughes, Steven Knight
Away Mascot: Matthew Hodson