Report: Aston Villa U23s 3-3 Blues U23s
Blues Under-23s drew with their near neighbours in the Premier League 2 on Monday evening.
The visitors earned a deserved point in a topsy-turvy encounter at Bodymoor Heath.
Steve Spooner’s men had to come from behind twice to share the spoils and given their second-half dominance, will perhaps feel they should have won it in a spirited display that saw them, claw their way back into the contest.
Tristan Abldeen-Goodridge had the hosts in front inside the opening quarter of an hour before the impressive George Hall fired Blues level.
Villa hit back immediately through Trezeguet who fired his spot-kick past Archie Matthews after Keenan Davis was upended.
Davis added a third five minutes into the second period but strikes from Oriol Soldevila and substitute Kyle Hurst ensured Blues travelled back to the Second City with something to show for their efforts.
On a bitterly cold evening in North Warwickshire, Steve Spooner’s side started brightly. After shifting the ball across the pitch with a succession of passes, Blues worked an overload on the right where Jobe Bellingham teed up Josh Williams. After chopping inside, the pacey full-back sent a low effort across goal which was tipped away by Filip Marschall.
Duncan Idehen then powered a header towards goal from an inviting Remi Walker corner as Blues went in search of an early lead.
Villa quickly hit back with a chance of their own through Egyptian international, Trezeguet. The most experienced player on the pitch played a neat give-and-go with Keenan Davies, only to be confronted by Archie Matthews who pounced at the feet of the 27-year-old to smother the attack.
The opening goal of the game was gift-wrapped courtesy of some slack Blues defending. After a period of Villa pressure, Caolan Boyd-Munce played a square pass inside the box. The intended target was teammate Tommy Fogarty but Caleb Chukwuemeka was alert to the pass and nipped ahead of him before cutting back for Tristan Abldeen-Goodridge to tap into the empty net.
The visitors' response was a positive one. Fresh from his senior squad involvement at the weekend, Hall picked out Kieran Wakefield with a ball from the right. The Blues frontman was at full stretch to reach the pass and could only toe wide of the target.
Blues were growing in confidence and were deservedly level before the half-hour mark. Bellingham played a sublime backheel into the path of Oriol Soldevila. The Spaniard hit the byline and cut the ball back for Hall to hammer home at full tilt.
Though the parity was short-lived. Chukwuemeka fizzed a pass into Davis who then turned neatly inside the box. The forward anticipated an approach from the onrushing Matthews and touched the ball beyond the Blues keeper before tumbling to the ground. Trezeguet made no mistake from the spot, blasting low into the corner to restore Villa’s lead at the break.
As they did in the first-half, Blues enjoyed an encouraging start, only to leave the door unlocked down the other end. Moments after Boyd-Munce sent a curling free-kick over the bar, the hosts were on the offensive
Chukwuemeka was allowed too much space inside the Blues half and slid the ball through to Davis. The Villa number nine took a touch to steady himself before confidently blasting past Matthews from 12-yards out.
Despite being two goals behind, Blues continued to ask questions of the Villa backline in what was an unusually open Premier League 2 encounter.
Encouraged forwards by the bellowing voices of Spooner and Paul Williams, Blues clawed their way back into the game. Soldevila showed a quick turn of pace to anticipate a Villa backpass. Having made up the ground on captain Hayden Lindley, he flicked the ball beyond Marschall to reduce the deficit.
A considerably higher press proved problematic for the hosts and preceded a string of Blues chances. First, Williams picked out Hall from a wide position but the teenager could only steer his effort over the bar. That before, Bellingham stung the palms of Marschall with a rasping drive after cutting in off the flank.
In his final involvement of the game, Wakefield slid in to meet an inviting drive across goal but collided with the Villa keeper as the ball whizzed past.
As Blues pressed for a leveller, chances arrived at both ends. First, Duncan Idehen was forced into a last-ditch challenge on Davis who was bearing down on goal. Then, with the game stretched, the lively Hall was released down the right channel and cut back for Soldevila to see his sidefoot effort blocked.
Blues were finally rewarded for their efforts eight minutes from time. Soldevilla forced Marschall into a fantastic save to deny his curling effort but in came substitute Hurst to drill home a deserved equaliser.
Having fought their way back it was Blues who ended the game on top, but despite piling on the pressure they could not find a winning goal.
Aston Villa: Marschall, Alcock, Barber (Pierre 41), Lindley, Munroe, Iroegbunam, Trezeguet (Frith 60), Thorndike, Davis, Chukwuemeka (Young) 78, Abledeen-Goodridge
Substitutes not used: Wright, Young
Blues: Matthews, Williams, Idehen, Boyd-Munce, Fogarty, Roberts captain, Hall, Walker, Wakefield (Simmonds 68), Bellingham (Hurst 78), Soldevila
Substitutes not used: Basey, Hurst, Simmonds, Thompson-Sommers, Sullivan