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Aston Villa U-18s v Spurs U-18s, 28.04.12
Courtesy of:- Ray Lo, and the Spurs List.

        FA Premier Academy League, Group B
        Bodymoor Training Ground, Tamworth,
         Saturday 28th April 2012, 12 noon

         ASTON VILLA    v      SPURS
        (Claret/Blue)       (White/Blue)
            4-5-1             4-1-4-1

             2(1)               2(0)

            Craig Hill  1 Luke McGee
    Janois Donalien(C)  2 Jack Barthram
          Liam Bateman  3 Alex McQueen
        Malcolm Melvin  4 Milos Veljkovic
   Mason Watkins-Clark  5 Dominic Ball
         Daniel Devine  6 Kevin Stewart
         Joshua Barton  7 Kenneth McEvoy
          Charlie Ward  8 Nabil Bentaleb
       Michael Drennan  9 Souleymane Coulibaly
          Graham Burke 10 Ruben Lameiras
         Jordan Graham 11 Jack Munns

       Daniel Williams 12 Grant Ward
        Callum Barrett 13 Billy Granger
    Serrano de la Cruz 14 Victor Zapata-Caicedo
        Michael Nelson 15 Nathan Oduwa
            (7)57Mins.    (10)57Mins.
         Bradley Lewis 16

         Burke 25         Coulibaly 65
         Drennan 64       Stewart 87

Watkins-Clark 15(Late)    Barthram 80(Late)
Barton 21(Foul)
Burke 70(Late)
Bateman 73(Late)

        T. McAndrews      A. Inglethorpe

Referee:- C. Dumitru-Ravel
Assistants:- M.Hill, K. Bartlett
The trip to the Mmidlands was a trip back into winter as, emerging from the rain, I arrived at the Villa training ground to find that it was cold and windy. It was if the drops of rain that fell were trying to form flakes of snow. The wind was blowing diagonally from the north east towards the southern goal which gave the team kicking with the wind an advantage.

Spurs lined up with McGee in goal behind Stewart and Ball with Barthram at right back and McQueen on the left. Veljkovic sat in front of the back four to provide extra protection. Bentaleb and Lameiras started in the centre of midfield with McEvoy on the right wing and Munns on the left with Coulibaly up front on his own.

Spurs defended the South end for the first half and looked to keep the ball down and play through or around the home side while Villa looked content to break down the attacks and send long balls up to Drennan. To win the ball they looked to hit hard in the tackle and close down the centre backs quickly.

Coulibaly managed to get off a shot that went well over before Melvin drew a save from McGee after a pass from Drennan. From a right-sided corner, Munns found Stewart at the back post but his header was saved. Villa's physical approach saw Watkins-Clark shown a yellow card for a late tackle on Lameiras. He was followed into the referee's book by Barton for a challenge on Barthram after he had got forward and driven over. The full back was still off the pitch when a second Spurs player had to receive treatment which meant that Spurs were down to nine players when Villa next attacked.

Burke received the ball on the edge of the area and lobbed McGee who had come off his line to put the home side in front. When Lameiras's free kick was cleared back to him he fired it wide of the far post. When Ward got clear on the left for Villa, he saw his curled effort come back off the far post and cleared. Graham had the next chance but fired wide. Bentaleb saw his shot deflected for a corner. Stewart was denied again from a Munns corner before Villa's best player Burke had the last effort of the half saved.

Villa made one change for the second half replacing Watkins-Clark who was in danger of getting a second card. With the wind behind them Spurs began to threaten the Villa goal from the restart with Coulibaly first hitting a post and then drawing a save.

Barton fired wide on the counter before he was involved in another back-tackle. The Villa coach, McAndrew, took him off soon after when Spurs were making a couple of changes themselves. Inglethorpe replaced McQueen with Ward at right back and replaced Lameiras with Oduwa who played on the left to allow Munns to move inside.

Villa had begun to play the ball on the deck pushing players forward and Bartram had to make a block on the line after Burke had crossed from the left. Drennan got behind the defence and hit a dipping effort over McGee into the far side of the goal to increase their lead.

Spurs hit back immediately with a long ball inside the full back for McEvoy to run onto. The winger got to the line and crossed for Coulibaly to turn home. Ball headed over from a Munns corner and McGee saved from Burke at the expense of a corner.

Burke then lost out in a tussle in the left corner and was booked for something after the ball had been cleared. Bateman followed him into the book for pulling back Barthram. The Spurs full back was clearly incensed by the tackle having been on the end of so much in the first half, but he also went into the ref's book minutes later, going to ground in a tackle with Ward that left both players needing treatment.

Munns had an effort saved before laying on the equaliser. He took a free kick out on the right after a foul on McEvoy that Stewart met with his head at the near post to power home.(Ed: My recollection is that this was a powerful right footed shot just inside the post) Villa replaced Drennan with Serrano de la Cruz who had the last chance of the game which he fired wide.

A draw was probably a fair result in the end. In the first half Spurs were the most adventurous of the two sides but caused problems for themselves with some slack passing at the back. Villa came out in the second half to make a game of it and the action became more end to end which suited Spurs game better. Then they took off one of their creative central midfielders.

Munns is a hard worker but does not have the vision of Lameiras. Bentaleb became more central to the play and pushed up more leaving space behind that Villa looked to exploit. Referees at this level try not to show any cards but today this one booked two players early and had to have words with others. This led to the two players getting away with a few tackles that could have seen them go for an early bath. Late in the game after Burke had been booked he kicked the ball away at a free kick and got away with it Taarabt was sent off last week for the same offence.

Spurs end the season in fourth place in the group behind Leicester, Reading and surprise package Coventry. Fulham snatched Group A from Southampton by winning their last match 4-3 at Norwich pushing the gooners into third. While the season has finished for our Academy there will still be tournaments during the summer. The first of which will be in Germany next month. I will be there to report on proceedings.


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