Despite Crystal Palace completing an exceptional comeback, the U23 side produced a strong performance – and Carney Chukwuemeka stood out amongst his peers.

Words: Simon Lines | @simonlines


Aston Villa and Crystal Palace both played their part in an incredibly entertaining game yesterday evening, as Aston Villa launched their streaming service to show their remaining home games this season – with all proceeds from these games going to the Aston Villa Foundation.

On a rainy night at Bodymoor Heath, it was a night for pure attacking football. A bright start from both sides set the tone, and Jaden Philogene-Bidace thought he’d won a penalty for Aston Villa after good work from Carney Chukwuemeka on the left-hand side – however the referee had other ideas and booked the winger for simulation.

In the 14th minute, Aaron Ramsey was brought down by Malaki-Boateng around 20 yards from goal. Charlie Farr’s free-kick was parried by Jacob Russell straight into the direction of Kaine Kesler-Hayden who struck the ball low into the corner of the net to give Villa the lead.

Chukwuemeka was causing havoc in this game, driving Aston Villa forward from the midfield. His quick feet were too much for the Palace defence and he was brought down on the edge of the box – taking the resulting free-kick himself and cannoning the ball against the crossbar to deny his side a two-goal advantage.

Palace had rarely threatened – but the 29th minute saw a moment that Villa goalkeeper Filip Marschall will want to forget. Bogarde’s back-pass skipped off the ‘keeper’s foot and Kymani-Gordon was presented with a simple tap-in to get Crystal Palace back level.

Aston Villa tried to strike back immediately with Ramsey stinging the palms of Russell with a long-range shot.

Four minutes from time, and Villa found themselves back in the lead. Philogene-Bidace took a low shot which Russell could only parry again into the direction of Charlie Farr – who finished comfortably. The home side almost had the game sewn up before half-time as Brad Young followed up great work from Chukwuemeka, but found himself thwarted by Russell.

Crystal Palace were immediately on the front foot in the 2nd half following a team talk from coach, Shaun Derry. They were level in the 46th minute when a cross from the left was turned home by Harlem-Hale who beat Chrisene to guide the ball home. 

Alfie Matthews tested the palms of Marschall in the 52nd minute but the keeper did well smothering low down to keep the scores level. 

Aaron Ramsey was growing into the second-half and he picked up the ball left of the centre, sprinted towards goal, and unleashed a strike with Russell saving. Almost immediately after, Villa reworked the ball through Ramsey who played in Farr to the right of the penalty area who slotted past Russell to earn his brace.

Crystal Palace again came back into the match with a cross from the right to the back post. Palace looked certain to score but Marschall did well to smother the strike and turn the ball around the post for a corner.

Villa then turned on the style in the 80th minute.  Some lovely work down the left-hand side allowed Farr to cushion the ball down for Chukwuemeka who curled the ball home. A great goal capping off a great performance for Chukwuemeka. 

Just as Villa thought they had wrapped up proceedings, Aveiro gained ground in midfield and launched a long-range strike which flashed past Marschall in the Villa goal.

In the 87th minute, Crystal Palace completed an impressive comeback. Aveiro with more good work on the left. He cut it back and found Jude Russell to power it into the net.

There was time for one more attack and Villa thought they had won it in the 93rd minute. Kesler-Hayden was played in by Ramsey and shot agonizingly wide of the mark which then saw the conclusion of the game.

An excellent and entertaining game for the watching supporters in the first game shown on the new VillaTV platform. Mark Delaney will be disappointed that his side couldn’t see the victory out but he will be delighted with some of Villa’s attacking play. 

Man of the Match: Carney Chukwuemeka

Top-level performance from the 17-year-old. He controlled Villa’s play going forward and capped off his performance with a top goal. He built a good partnership up with Aaron Ramsey in the middle.

An honourable mention also to Charlie Farr. Villa’s right winger was involved in all of Villa’s goals, netting a brace and also providing two goals for his teammates. 

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