Match: Aston Villa U23s vs Middlesbrough U23s
Competition: Premier League 2
Date: Monday 9th December 2019
Venue: Bodymoor Heath
Searle, Walker (C), Rowe, Suliman, Bridge, Guy, Tait, Clarke (Brunt 80), Vassilev, Ramsey (Birch 86), Odutayo (Hooper 73). Unused sub: Onodi.
Story in brief
Doubles from Indiana Vassilev and Jack Clarke set the platform for a 5-3 win for Villa’s Under-23s over Middlesbrough’s Under-23s.
Michael Tait was also on target for the Young Lions while a brace from Daniel Dodds was the highlight for the Teesiders.
The game was just five minutes old when the Young Lions hit the front.
Michael Tait’s cross from the right was flighted beautifully into the box where Vassilev was perfectly placed to power a header into the net.
The lead would last just a few moments as the visitors’ first venture forward of note ended with Daniel Dodds finding an equaliser with a shot that crept in at the near post.
Jamie Searle in the Villa goal produced three fine stops to keep Boro at bay before the hosts restored their advantage on the half-hour mark.
Vassilev was on target again, driving a low ball past Sol Brynn.
Before the break, the young striker’s quick feet fashioned a shooting opportunity to net his third but his effort was beaten away by Brynn.
Jacob Ramsey could also have found himself on the scoresheet having skipped his way around the advancing Brynn but couldn’t squeeze the ball home from a tight angle.
Both teams were out of the blocks quickly at the start of the second half.
Former Villan, Rudy Gestede fired over after being picked out by Rumarn Burrell before Villa went straight up the other end where Ramsey teed up Vassilev who had two efforts blocked away.
Mungo Bridge then came within inches of extending Villa’s lead but watched as his header clattered off the underside of the bar and down onto the line before being cleared.
The visitors then levelled through Isaiah Jones who raced clear down the left and coolly finished one-on-one with Searle.
An entertaining encounter took another twist when Jack Clarke edged Villa ahead yet again, arriving at the right time into the box to convert an inviting cross from the right.
And Clarke was perfectly placed again just two minutes later as the hosts gave themselves a two-goal cushion.
Good work from Odutayo down the left laid on a shooting opportunity which Clarke buried with a first-time effort.
There was still time for Michael Tait to add his name to the scoresheet after being set up by Jake Walker as the Young Lions made it 5.
Boro notched a late consolation before the final whistle, Daniel Dodds becoming the third player of the evening to score a brace when his curling effort found the net.
Reaction from Mark Delaney
“I thought our first half performance was probably our best 45 minutes of the season so far. I thought we looked good with the ball, played through the lines really well, and looked a threat every time we got into their third. To come in at half-time 2-1 up, we were pleased, but we thought we could have had one or two more.
"We worked a lot during the week on creating space and creating overloads out wide. We scored a few goals from crosses which was pleasing. The work on the training field has come to life in a game, so as a coach that’s pleasing.”
It's another home game next week for Mark Delaney's side. We face Swansea City U23s at Bodymoor Heath next Monday (16th) at 7pm.