PL2 Loss v Southampton

An inexperienced Aston Villa U23 team suffered against Southampton in their Play-Off Semi Final game, losing 2-0 to the more comfortable home side. 

Words by Simon Lines | @simonlines

The season came to an end for a young Aston Villa U23’s side this evening at St.Mary’s as Mark Delaney’s side we’re defeated 2-0 by Southampton in the Premier League 2 Play-Off Semi Final. On the day that some high profile youth departures were confirmed, Villa’s youthful line up came unstuck against a Southampton side who narrowly missed out on automatic promotion to Premier League 1, eventually pipped by Wolves on goal difference.

Villa’s season has been mixed. Some brilliant results and performances early on in the season but results have been less consistent since the new year since the likes of Callum O’Hare and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy departed for some much needed loan time. Still, Villa’s young lions take a lot of credit for even getting into the top 5 in the division this season.

In the one legged affair, Southampton started the better side. An over the top ball from Aaron O’Driscoll caught Villa goalkeeper, Viljami Sinisalo off guard and he upended Tyreke Johnson giving the opportunity for Will Smallbone to score from 12 yards, which he duly did, striking into the bottom corner.

Villa did come into the game and had their first shot on 8 minutes. After good work from Indiana Vassilev, Jacob Ramsey dragged his shot wide. Southampton were next to test with Tom O’Connor’s free kick going inches over the bar. Sinisalo made a decent stop from O’Connor again after good build up play with Jake Vokins.

Villa struggled to get any attacking momentum going as the second half began. They showed some good spells on the counter attack but very little quality. Vassilev struck a free kick in the 60th minute which called Saints goalkeeper, Jack Rose into action for the first time.

Southampton continued to dominate and when O’Connor hit an unstoppable curler past Sinisalo to make it 2-0.

Villa went close with Suliman late on who’s effort went just past the post but in reality it was a deserved victory for Southampton who now progress through to the play-off final. For Villa, it’s been a transitional season again. The academy is in a transition, with Sporting Director Jesus Garcia Pitarch performing an overhaul to the set up. However, the young lads can be proud of their achievements of finishing in the top 5 and can look forward to next season.

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