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Villa U19 2-1 Celtic U19: First NextGen win in the bag for Villa

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Villa U19 2-1 Celtic U19: First NextGen win in the bag for Villa

By Dan Harrison at Villa Park

Goals from Samir Carruthers and Malcolm Melvin gave Villa their first victory in the 2012-13 NextGen Series.

The midfield duo were on target as the boys in claret and blue produced a sparkling first-half display in this all-British encounter.

But Sean Verity's team had to hold off a strong Celtic fightback after the break to claim their first points of the season in the prestigious European U19 competition.

Jackson Irvine hit back early in the second-half for the resurgent Scots.

However, it proved to be another memorable NextGen result for the Young Lions under the Villa Park floodlights.

Villa were boosted by the return of one of last season's NextGen stars Carruthers in midfield.

There was also a reshuffle at the back with goalkeeper Craig Hill making his first European appearance, while Mason Watkins-Clark came in at centre-back with Derrick Williams shifting across to left-back.

And the hosts welcomed back Callum Robinson up front, fresh from his brace against Manchester United in Saturday's triumph in the Barclays U18 Premier League.

After a tentative start from both sides, Celtic finally created an opening on 14 minutes when Jamie Lindsay forced Hill to save an angled shot from close range.

The claret and blue faithful joined forces with the small Celtic travelling contingent on 19 minutes for a special round of applause for Stiliyan Petrov - a fitting tribute to the midfielder who is revered at both clubs.

As the sizeable crowd raised the roof, Villa upped their tempo and managed to break the deadlock.

Full-back Liam Bateman motored into the box and produced a perfect cut back for Carruthers to fire home from around eight yards.

Michael Drennan almost made it two when he controlled a low cross from Jordan Graham, but the Irishman couldn't keep his effort down.

Ten minutes before the break, Melvin doubled Villa's lead with a cool, classy finish from 25-yards.

Jack Grealish surged towards the Celtic penalty box before teeing up his team-mate, who neatly slotted his effort into the bottom corner.

Villa were forced to hold on after the break, though, as the Glasgow outfit stage a strong comeback.

Within five minutes, the visitors had reduced the deficit thanks to Jackson Irvine's well-worked effort.

A clever dummy from John Herron allowed Darnell Fisher's cross to run through to Irvine, who had time and space to slot past Hill.

Callum McGregor chested down a lofted ball before volleying off target, while Hill made a fingertip save to push Joseph Chalmers' inswinging free-kick over the bar.

The best chance fell to Denny Johnstone, although the substitute fired wide across goal after getting the better of Watkins-Clark.

VILLA: Hill, Bateman, Williams, Devine, Watkins-Clark, Grealish, Carruthers, Melvin, Graham, Robinson, Drennan. Subs: Barton [for Robinson, 38], Watkins, Lewis, Ward [for Grealish, 71], Calder, Wildin, Crowley.

CELTIC: Fasan, Fisher, Chalmers, Fraser, Findlay, Irvine, Heron, Kidd, Atajic, McGregor, Lindsay. Subs: Johnstone [for Kidd, 65], Daniels, Henderson [for Herron, 84], McManus, Waters, Kirwan, McNally.

AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 19th September 2012
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