Aston Villa Youngsters Lift Hong Kong Soccer Sevens Main Plate
In what can be considered a poor tournament for the Aston Villa youngsters at the Hong Kong Soccer Sevens, they still managed to return home to Aston with silverware. 
Words by Simon Lines | @simonlines

Aston Villa youngsters played a number of games under the scorching Hong Kong sun this weekend in the yearly Hong Kong Soccer Sevens tournament, which saw them bag the ‘Main Plate’ gong for their work.

Aston Villa 1 – 1 Kitchee

Aston Villa heavily dominated the proceedings in the first game of the tournament for the young lions. Jack Clarke was the main man in claret and blue. 

Villa took the lead after two minutes with a striker from Clarke, from the right-hand side of the box, squeezing it past the goalkeeper. 

The Villa boys continued to dominate without ever creating too many opportunities, and Kitchee managed to equalise after six minutes with good work down the left hand side and a powerful finish past the Villa keeper. 

The second half went by without many clear cut opportunities and the game finished in a stalemate.

Aston Villa 3 – 0 Singapore Cricket Club 

The second game was more straight-forward for Aston Villa. 

Villa took the lead after just a minute with some lovely build in midfield and a cool finish by Jaden Philogene-Bidace.

The side doubled their lead just before the break with some neat footwork down the right by Philogene-Bidace, who pulled it back for Aaron Pressley to tap into the net.

Pressley hit the post just after the second half had started, but Villa soon made it 3-0 with a classy left-footed strike from outside of the area by Lewis Brunt.

Leicester City 1 – 0 Aston Villa

The first half was an even one, and Aston Villa created some decent opportunities – with Dominic Revan’s shot requiring a decent save and Indiana Vassilev coming close with a free-kick. 

Leicester took the lead after two minutes of the second half. A free-kick worked nicely, and the ball was turned in from close range past Aston Villa goalkeeper Onodi Akos. 

Villa pushed for the equaliser, but it never came. 

This result put Leicester and Kitchee through into the main tournament for Sunday, and Villa into the Main Plate – a disappointing Group Stage by Aston Villa’s standards.

Main Plate Quarter-Final:

Aston Villa 5 – 2 HKFA Red Dragons

Sunday started with Aston Villa contesting the Main Plate Quarter-Final against the Red Dragons. 

The Villa had the opening chance after just a minute, with a good save from an Indiana Vassilev strike from outside of the box.

Villa’s pressing game enabled them to take the lead after two minutes, with Villa chasing the defenders down; forcing them into a mistake and Jack Clarke capitalised and fired past the keeper.

Dragons equalised after five minutes, with a side footed strike into the top corner after some poor defending from Aston Villa. 

Just before the break, Villa took the lead again with well-worked goal from Philogene-Bidace.

Just after the break, they made it 3-1 with a side-footed finish from Aaron Pressley.

Dragons pulled their second back just two minutes later with a finish at the near post after a corner, with some static defending from Villa. 

It took less than 30 seconds, however, for Aston Villa to regain their two goal lead, with Pressley’s shot being blocked and Archer on hand to tap it in and make it 4-2. 

They rounded off the victory with a second goal from Cameron Archer, whho dodged past two Dragons’ defenders down the right and powered a strike past the goalkeeper to confirm the sides place in the Semi-Final.

Main Plate Semi-Final:

Aston Villa 3 – 1 Fulham

Aston Villa took the lead after nine minutes with some good work down the left, resulting in Aaron Pressley to score a tap in at the far post. 

Fulham equalised only 45 seconds later, with some strong running from the brother of Villa forward Tammy Abraham – Timmy Abraham powered his way through the Villa defence and finished it off to make it 1-1.

A minute later, Pressley played in Jack Clarke who weaved his way through the Fulham defence to pull it back to Cameron Archer who regained Villa’s lead. 

A minute before full time, Jack Clarke found Brunt in space in the box; who pulled it back for Indiana Vassilev to confirm Villa’s position in the Main Plate Final.

Main Plate Final:

Aston Villa 2 – 0 Kerry Yau Yee League Select

Aston Villa were strong favourites in the final. 

They won the wall back on the half way line and Pressley caught the keeper out, lobbing him from 35-yards out to make it 1-0. 

After 11 minutes, Clarke was played in and held the ball up well – finding Indiana Vassilev who finished to make it 2-0, and confirm Aston Villa as the Main Plate Champions of the Hong Kong Soccer Sevens 2019.

Post Tournament Thoughts:

A great experience for the young lads who flew out to Hong Kong. 

Aston Villa will feel disappointed that they did not read the main tournament finals after struggling through the Group Stages. They dominated most of the games they featured in, but some poor defending against Kitchee and Leicester City ensuring that they would instead compete for the Main Plate. 

Having experience playing against top academy players from teams in England and around the world in this tournament, in high humidity, will serve the young players well as they look to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Jack Grealish. 

Congratulations to Newcastle United, who ended up as the overall Hong Kong Soccer Sevens Champions, but Villa will be pleased to fly back to B6 with some silverware once again. 

Key Players:

Jack Clarke –  The Aston Villa captain led the team by example with some of his excellent drives forward. Continues to shine.

Aaron Pressley – Aaron got on the scoresheet four times across the weekend, a good return for the young Villa forward.

Cameron Archer –  Made a huge difference from the bench in the games against Red Dragons and Fulham.

Jaden Philogene-Bidace – The young man made a huge impression with his all-action displays. The commentators discussed how he would have been a contender for ‘Player of the Weekend’ had Villa progressed to the Main Tournament finals.

 

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