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Everton U21 2-2 Villa U21: Johnson at the double to earn point

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Everton U21 2-2 Villa U21: Johnson at the double to earn point

Daniel Johnson hit a brilliant second-half brace as Villa came back from two goals down to earn a point against league leaders Everton.

The boys in claret and blue looked to be heading for a defeat after goals from Conor McAleny and Hallam Hope put the Toffees in the driving seat.

But Gordon Cowans' men came roaring back, with Johnson producing two moments of inspiration in the final 20 minutes of this contest at Southport.

Villa made one change from the goalless draw at Middlesbrough a fortnight ago, with Callum Robinson replacing Jack Grealish.

The Toffees, meanwhile, fielded Apostolos Vellios, Ross Barkley and Shane Duffy who all boast first team experience.

It was the home side who made the stronger start and, although Villa had chances, there was no denying that Everton deserved their 1-0 half-time lead.

McAleny went close on six minutes when he glanced a header wide from Hope's right-wing cross.

And, in a frantic spell of pressure, Josh Barton cleared off the line from Matthew Pennington before keeper Brad Watkins came rushing out to block a shot from Vellios.

Watkins produced another fine save, diving to his left to keep out a rasping drive from Barkley.

But there was little the teenage custodian could do about McAleny's deadlock-breaker.

On 35 minutes, McAleny cut in from the left before powering a shot at goal which cannoned in off the upright.

Villa's best first-half chance fell to Daniel Devine, who forced Mason Springthorpe into a save after meeting Samir Carruthers' cross from six yards.

Carruthers and Graham Burke also had long-range attempts which didn't trouble Springthorpe.

The visitors made an encouraging start to the second period and Graham Burke went close soon after the restart.

He fired a half-volley just over the bar from Barton's cutback.

But once again the Toffees came back strongly, calling Watkins into action on two further occasions.

Firstly, Watkins had to be alert to keep out McAleny's angled shot at the near post and moments later he got his right palm to a fierce low attempt by Vellios.

The pressure finally told on 68 minutes, Hope positioning himself well to head home a left-wing cross from McAleny.

However, two minutes later Villa were given a glimmer of hope by Johnson.

The Jamaican-born midfielder reacted quickest to a hopeful ball forward and controlled well before producing a neat finish from just inside the box.

And it was left to Johnson to have the final say with a superbly-taken equaliser four minutes from time.

A great move involving substitute Grealish ended with Johnson driving a well-struck left-foot shot into the bottom corner.

EVERTON: Springthorpe, Pennington, Garbutt, Duffy, Browning, Junior, Grant, Barkley, Hope, Vellios, McAleny. Subs: Griffiths, Kennedy [for Vellios, 81], Kelly, Long, Touray.

VILLA: Watkins, Barton, Donacien, Devine, Kinsella, Stieber, Carruthers, Johnson, Cameron, Burke, Robinson. Subs: Webb, Marshall, Lewis [for Kinsella, 74], Bateman [for Robinson, 65], Grealish [for Barton, 79].

AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 17th March 2013
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