Aston Villa’s Under 23 side impressed at their new Bodymoor Heath home, as Dean Smith watched on from the stands.
Words: Simon Lines | @simonlines
Aston Villa U23 XI:
Searle (GK), Walker, Rowe, Suliman, Bridge, Guy, Tait, Clarke, Vassilev, Ramsey, Odutayo
Onodi, Brunt, Birch, Hooper
Aston Villa played their first league match at the recently opened academy facility at Bodymoor Heath yesterday evening as they met Middlesbrough in a Premier League 2 clash.
The facility, which houses around 500 spectators opened its doors for the first time two weeks ago for the Premier League Cup victory over Portsmouth – but yesterday saw the first taste of league action in front of a crowd of around 300 people.
Aston Villa’s line-up, as usually is the case, looked youthful – whilst there was a return to Aston Villa for Rudy Gestede who led the line for Middlesbrough.
Aston Villa started brightly in the game, taking the lead after just five minutes as a cross from the left was turned in by American whizzkid Indiana Vassilev, getting on the scoresheet with a rare header.
Two minutes later, Middlesbrough equalised through some nifty work on the right hand side as Boro weaved their way through the Aston Villa defence before fullback Daniel Dodd gave Middlesbrough their immediate response.
The Villans continued to press high up the pitch and were guilty of wasting some very strong opportunities, shooting wide and high numerous times. They were somewhat wasteful when finding themselves in good positions.
They weren’t to be denied just before half-time, however, when Vassilev added his second of the evening – a well-struck, low driving shot which beat Middlesbrough’s keeper.
The second half started brightly, with both sides contributing to an exciting contest.
Mungo Bridge came inches away from giving Aston Villa a two-goal cushion as he headed onto the bar from a cross from the right before the ball bounced on the line and Middlesbrough managed to scramble clear.
Boro continued to counter-attack against Villa’s pressure, and only a minute later equalised when Isaiah Jones found himself one-on-one with Aston Villa ‘keeper Jamie Searle following some good work from Rudy Gestede.
The screw would turn in the game once again. Jack Clarke drove the team forward with his all-action display and managed to get his name on the scoresheet twice in as many minutes – one with a low drive from outside the area and the second a finish inside the six-yard box after a neat pull back from Tait.
Three minutes later, Tait added a goal to his two assists for the evening following some great work from fullback Jake Walker down the right.
There was still time for more action from the visitors, however, when Dodd added his second of the game to reduce the arrears.
An exciting game, under the watchful eye of Dean Smith. The Under 23 side have hit some good form over recent weeks and will hope their new facility at Bodymoor Heath can become a fortress.