Aston Villa’s youth side crashed to a defeat in the EFL Trophy (or the Leasingcom Cup) to an experienced Salford City side this evening.
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Aston Villa U21 Starting 11: Searle, Walker (C), Rowe, Revan, Suliman, Birch, Tait, Clarke, Brunt, Wright, Archer
Subs: Philogene-Bidace, Marschall, Guy, Bridge, Hayden, Pressley, Chukwuemeka
Aston Villa’s young lions began their EFL Trophy journey at the Peninsula Stadium against Salford City. It is the first year of the clubs involvement in the competition, as the U23 (referred to as ‘Aston Villa’ or ‘U21 side’ throughout this article) were invited into the tournament. It was always going to be a tough task for the youthful side, but will prove to be a good experience for the young players as they seek to improve over the coming season.
Salford City started on the front foot in this game, looking to use their experience to their advantage. An early chance occurred with a free-kick on the right hand side in the second minute. The free-kick was swung in but strong defending from Aston Villa ensured the danger was averted.
A minute later, Aston Villa had a free-kick of their own, but Salford were able to clear their lines after Jack Clarke’s decent delivery.
The first real chance of the game fell to Aston Villa on the 10th minute, through Tyreik Wright. He opened up some space for himself on the edge of the area but hit his shot over the bar.
Three minutes later, Salford came knocking with a good opportunity, but Whitehead’s dipping strike flashed over Jamie Searle’s crossbar.
Soon after, Cameron Archer stole the ball on the half-way line, and some neat work between Archer and Wright eventually found Tait at the far post – but some strong defending from Salford denied him.
In the 22nd minute, a poor clearance from Villa led to a shot from Lloyd, which was well saved by Jamie Searle. Searle went on to make a second good stop just a minute later, when a good ball over the top found it’s way to Rooney, who’s shot was well saved.
The half hour mark came, and Salford’s Lloyd tried an ambitious free-kick from 30-yards, which went well wide of the Villa goal.
Just on the stroke of half-time, Clarke whipped in a corner from the right-hand side, with Easah Suliman rising the highest, but his header trickled inches wide – denying Aston Villa a half-time lead.
The second half began brightly for Aston Villa with a great through-ball from Archer to Wright, who attempted to lift the ball over Salford’s ‘keeper, but the Salford man stood tall to deny Villa taking the lead.
On the 55th minute, Salford should have scored. A cross from the right found it’s way to Whitehead, who was indecisive and his resulting shot looped wide.
Birch should have given Aston Villa the lead from an Aston Villa corner five minutes later, but his header was weak and ended safely in the Salford goalkeeper’s arms.
Philogene-Bidace replaced Tait shortly after, and he became involved very quickly. He saw a shot well saved by Leatheren to his left.
Salford upped their tempo and were almost rewarded in the 70th minute as a cross was whipped into the box that Jamie Searle struggled to deal with, before the ball was scrambled to safety.
Unfortunately for Aston Villa, captain Jake Walker barged down a Salford attacker in the 78th – and the referee pointed to the spot. Lloyd sent Searle the wrong way and gave the home side a 1-0 lead.
Only one minute later, a high ball into the box from Jones fell for Adam Rooney – who poked the ball past Searle to double Salford’s lead.
A tough test for Aston Villa, a very young, inexperienced side against a physical Salford outfit. Mark Delaney will likely be pleased with his players – however a finishing touch needs to be found if the youngsters are to be successful this season.
Next up for Aston Villa in the EFL Trophy is Tranmere Rovers. In this tournament, there’s a group stage and the top two progress to the next round. In this case, there’s only three teams following Bury’s expulsion from the English Football Leagues and subsequently, Aston Villa’s group.
Jamie Searle, the new young New Zealander in goal for Aston Villa was their star man. Made some good saves to keep Salford at bay.
As a big lad, he fills his goal and is certainly one to watch for the future.