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Match report: Fulham Res 3-2 Villa Res
Defeat for Villa despite strikes from Michael Drennan and Graham Burke.
2nd May 2012
Match report: Fulham Res 3-2 Villa Res


By Dan Harrison

Villa rounded off the regular league season with a defeat against Fulham despite coming from behind twice at Motspur Park.

Michael Drennan and Graham Burke cancelled out a pair of strikes from Marcelo Trotta but substitute Tom Donegan scored late on for the Cottagers.

Burke was denied a further goal when keeper Marcus Bettinelli saved his first-half penalty.

But Villa gave an encouraging performance as they geared up for next Thursday's national play-off final against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

There was also an opportunity for 16-year-old Jack Grealish and second string debutant Mason Watkins-Clark to get some valuable game time.

Fulham struck an early blow with the game's first meaningful opportunity.

A swift counter-attack from the home side saw Boumesca Na Bangna surge down the left and cross for Trotta to score from around 10 yards.

But the 15th minute deadlock-breaker served as a wake-up call to Kevin MacDonald's team.

Josh Barton forced Marcus Bettinelli to push his header round the post after Samir Carruthers' inswinging cross to the far post, while Grealish hit the woodwork when he connected with a ball in from Courtney Cameron.

On 28 minutes, Barton found Drennan at the back post with a corner and the Irish striker powered a header past Bettinelli.

Three minutes after restoring parity, the boys in claret and blue had a golden opportunity to draw level when Sean Kavanagh brought down Grealish in the penalty area.

Burke stepped up to take the spot-kick but Bettinelli dived to his left to push away the Villa attacker's effort.

An audacious 30-yard chip from Burke dropped just over the bar as the away team made strong finish to the first period.

Bangna and Trotta combined against to devastating effect again four minutes into the second-half, with the Italian collecting Bangna's cross before drilling a shot into the bottom corner.

The lead, though, lasted just three minutes as Burke converted a low effort from just inside the box after linking up well with Grealish.

Villa perhaps should have gone on to take charge from there - Bettinelli saved a fierce shot from Burke and then kept out a Grealish header.

But, seven minutes from time, substitute Donegan struck with an angled drive from the edge of the box which Siegrist couldn't keep out.

There were further opportunities for Villa in the final minutes, although they couldn't find an equaliser.

Firstly, Bettinelli stuck a leg out to save Drennan's volley, then Grealish lost his footing following a mazy run into the box.

FULHAM: Bettinelli, Brister, Kavanagh, Grimmer, Burn, Gecov, Williams, Smith, Trotta, Minkwitz, Na Bangna. Subs: Smith, Christensen, Pritchard, Donegan [for Minkwitz, 74], Gameiro.

VILLA: Siegrist, Watkins-Clark, Donacien, Williams, Stevens, Barton, Carruthers, Burke, Cameron, Grealish, Drennan. Subs: Graham [for Barton, 74], Barrett, Melvin [for Cameron, 75], Ward, Devine [for Burke, 84].


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