Match Report: Bohemians 2-1 VILLA
Villa's trip to Dublin ended with a 2-1 defeat at Dalymount Park - but there were plenty of positives for manager Martin O'Neill to take from this pre-season clash.
The boys in claret and blue received a superb ovation at the home of Bohemians, with thousands of supporters from England and the Emerald Isle packing into the stadium.
But it was the reigning League of Ireland champions who emerged victorious from an entertaining contest, despite a second-half strike from substitute John Carew.
There was a familiar look to the Villa line-up from last week's victory over Peterborough.
Once again Gabby Agbonlahor started as a lone striker, with Ashley Young deployed just behind and Stewart Downing and Marc Albrighton on the flanks.
All eyes were on Dublin's very own Richard Dunne when the teams emerged and the Republic of Ireland international received a great reception from the Bohemians faithful.
Wing duo Downing and Albrighton were particularly bright in the first-half - the former having two of Villa's best chances.
With three minutes on the clock, Downing met Agbonlahor's cut-back on the edge of the box but dragged his shot just wide and, later in the half, Bohs keeper Chris O'Connor reacted well to beat away a thumping left-foot drive.
O'Connor was also equal to Nigel Reo-Coker's long-range snap shot, acrobatically tipping over with one hand.
While Villa created a host of chances - Agbonlahor narrowly missing the target twice from tight angles - it was the hosts who broke the deadlock.
Brad Friedel's miscued clearance, when under pressure from hard-working forward Aaron Greene, fell kindly for Conor Powell, who expertly lobbed the Villa keeper to give Bohemians a 20th minute lead.
Although Villa trailed at half-time, they began the game at a high-tempo and continued to do so after the break.
Once again, it was fine wing play that caused problems for Bohs. Young battled through two challenges to float a cross over from the by-line, which was inches away from the head of Reo-Coker.
Both teams utilised their squads during the second-half and Carew - a half-time replacement for Agbonlahor - proved to be the super-sub.
However, credit for the giant Norwegian's 69th minute goal must go to the lively Albrighton, who bamboozled full-back Matt Doherty on the left before picking out Carew to head home from close range.
The pair almost repeated the trick moments later but this time Carew headed narrowly wide across goal.
The winning goal came nine minutes from time through Bohs substitute Enzo. Villa's defence was unlocked by a neat exchange between Enzo and Paddy Madden, which put the forward clear to slot beyond Friedel.
But there were plenty of encouraging signs for Villa in this latest pre-season workout.
Barry Bannan kept O'Connor busy during a bright second-half cameo. Firstly, the Scotsman played an intricate one-two with Young and aimed for the bottom corner, only for the Bohs keeper to turn it around the post.
Bannan unleashed another rasping drive which O'Connor managed to tip over the bar.
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