Last week City’s Under 18’s suffered a defeat against their Southampton counterparts after going 1-0 up and the same thing happened today at Leckwith as Aston Villa ran out 2-1 winners in a game which should really have finished as a draw. City’s performance in their previous game was as bad as I can remember seeing from them this season, but, for forty five minutes at least, they played very well today and should have had further reward for a half they dominated completely except for when keeper Reece Ottley produced a fine save to turn over a shot from about fifteen yards out.
Ottley’s save came after about half an hour, but City, with a few Under 16 players featuring, were already one up by then after Alex Evans glanced in a header after Villa failed to clear a Joe Ralls free kick. The visitor’s keeper had to pull out fine saves as well to deny City’s lively left winger who his team mates were calling Declan at the start of the game. I assumed therefore that it was Declan John even though he was taller than I remember John being and then they started addressing him as Leon after the quarter hour mark, so, sorry, I haven’t got a clue who it was!
What I do know is that Jessie Darko forced the keeper into another save with a fine shot from twenty five yards, Evans was denied a second by a mixture of keeper and covering defender and Ibby Farah saw a well struck volley blocked by a defender when it looked bound for the back of the net.
With City building nicely in midfield through Ralls and Farah, it was one of the best halves they had put together all season, but the roles were reversed completely after the break as the first thing I saw after walking back from visiting the club shop at half time was Villa equalising after some shoddy play by our youngsters. Having seemingly dealt with a free kick in a dangerous position they then gave away a cheap foul in a similar position and a few seconds later the ball was in the net as Villa took a quick free kick.
Although City continued to compete and did a good job of containing the visitor’s attack for a time, they were now offering very little going forward and, gradually, the pendulum was swinging in favour of Villa. However, when they did score again, it owed a great deal to luck as Ottley produced a brilliant save to keep out a point blank header only for the ball to, seemingly, hit his other hand as he landed on the ground and trickle into the net – I suppose the goal has to go down as own goal by the keeper which is very tough on Ottley because, in truth, he had no right to be making the save in the first place.
If Villa were getting the rub of the green in the game, then that changed a few minutes later when the officials missed what was an obvious hand ball in the City box, but they didn’t need much luck after that because they were able to hold on to their lead with few problems as they looked much more likely to add to their lead than concede. The game finished 2-1, but, unlike last week, there were good things that City could take from the game – promising performances by the likes of Josh Yeoworth and Declan/Leon amongst them!