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Not over yet...

Posted on 30 March 2009  - 12:00

Our reserves kept the title race alive by beating Aston Villa on Monday night.

Not over yet...

Our reserves kept the title race alive by beating Aston Villa on Monday night.

A penalty in each half from Ryan Mason and Jacques Maghoma secured maximum points in an exciting encounter in the Barclays Premier Reserve League South.

It was only Villa's second defeat of the campaign on a night they could have clinched a second-successive divisional title.

They are still odds-on favourites to do exactly that but Clive Allen will now look to exert some pressure on the leaders.

Villa remain clear on 30 points and, with two matches remaining against Fulham and West Brom at home, can get to 36 points.

Monday's win means we can still get to a maximum of 34 points if we win our five remaining matches and we can close to within five points before Villa play again - we have a huge double-header away and home against Arsenal on Thursday, April 9 and Tuesday, April 14.

A young side that started with five Academy players - including a second start for 16-year-old Kudos Oyenuga - showed great character to come from a goal behind to take the points.

It was the tale of the two goalkeepers in a lively opening 25 minutes.

Mason and Jake Livermore carved out the first opening after 10 minutes with Mason opting to try and go around the keeper rather than shoot, Elliott Parish read it and saved.

Parish's reactions were tested two minutes later when Gilberto flashed a shot towards the top corner but he was nowhere when Mason curled in the corner that followed, Oyenuga guided the ball towards goal and Nicky Shorey was there to head off the line.

Play switched to the other end and a string of saves from Ben Alnwick. His first was a sharp but routine dive to his left to deny Jonathan Hogg from distance, the next at closer quarters as Nathan Delfounso burst through and went for goal from a tight angle and the third, the best of the trio, palming out another Delfounso shot that was aiming for the far corner.

Reserves v Villa

Villa took the lead after 38 minutes. Eric Lichaj's throw from the right was flicked on by Delfouneso, Dominik Hofbauer and Adam Smith met it 50-50 and the ball fell kindly for Hofbauer who made no mistake, drilling low past Alnwick from 12 yards.

The response was almost instant. Mason's shot spun to Takura Mtandari on the right side of the box, Nathan Baker lunged in and it was a penalty all the way. Mason took responsibility from the spot and he made no mistake, crashing the ball into the top corner.

The lively Delfouneso carved out three chances at the start of the second half. The first was for himself, a curler straight at Alnwick, the second was hammered into the side-netting by Hofbauer, the third hit crisply straight at Alnwick by Weimann.

The next, telling action, was at the other end though as Jacques Maghoma's backheel sent Gilberto clear, only for Matthew Roome to upend him for another clear-cut penalty.

The taking of it wasn't so clear-cut though as Maghoma's initial effort was saved by Parish, only for the linesman, standing on the byline, to quickly point out that he'd advanced too far off his line. A retake was ordered and Maghoma didn't need a second invitation, this time sending the keeper the wrong way, 59 minutes on the clock.

Delfouneso remained the focal point of Villa's attacks and created the next chance for Collins, who fired high and wide from 12 yards under pressure from Calum Butcher, before forcing another save out of Alnwick.

Kasim angled a free-kick just wide after 77 minutes and that was about that in terms of chances as our young defence, including three Academy players in Adam Smith, Butcher and Steven Caulker, coped admirably with increasingly frantic Villa attacks.

Spurs: Alnwick, Smith, Gilberto, Livermore, Rocha (Caulker, 46), Butcher, Mtandari (Cox, 93), Kasim, Oyenuga (Byrne, 61), Mason, Maghoma. Subs: Ranieri, Nicholson.

Aston Villa: Parish, Lichaj, Bouma (Grocott, 85), Hogg, Roome, Baker, Weimann (Forrester, 81) , Shorey, Collins, Delfouneso, Hofbauer. Subs: Bevan, Blythe, Stieber.