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Clive Allen felt it was a pleasing performance at a top venue after his team overcame Aston Villa on Tuesday evening.

Clive Allen felt it was a pleasing performance at a top venue after his team overcame Aston Villa on Tuesday evening.On Saturday Villa Park plays host to the FA Cup semi-final between Manchester United and Watford, while on this occasion it was the stage for Lee Barnard's first goal since his return from injury - Lee extending the team's advantage after Jamie O'Hara netted the opener.

Villa responded with a late reply, but Clive's side held firm for a deserved three points in a game that also marked the return of Danny Murphy to action.

"Obviously there was little motivation needed for the lads with having the game at Villa Park a few days before an FA Cup semi-final," reflected the Development Coach. "The surface was fantastic and, against a strong Villa side, it was a big challenge for them.

"I've said about them before, when it looks like a difficult task is put in front of them, they respond in the right way and they have certainly done that again.

"They are growing in confidence in terms of handling situations they come across and I thought it was a fantastic effort from the young Academy lads who had been away in Switzerland at the weekend for a tournament. They left at five in the morning and we had four starters from the youth set-up in our team," added Clive who, on the flip side of the coin, felt his reserve regulars took a period time to settle.

"The one thing I always find a little bit difficult is when we haven't had a competitive game for a couple of weeks and we tend to look a little bit rusty in terms of getting our passing going and the fluid movement that is part of the manner we like to play. It takes a little while for us to get in our stride, but once we did we played some good football and deserved out lead at half-time.

"Then it was a case of how we could control the game and I thought we did that excellently in the second half."

Murphy featured for 69 minutes after recovering from an Achilles problem and Clive believes he was a good man to have around his young group on the night.

"Danny is a great example to the younger players, a good professional of vast experience who encourages. He is coming back from injury and it was important he got that game time under his belt as there is no reason why he won't be involved with the first team over the closing stages of the season.

"He brings the young players along with him and perhaps, over the course of this season, we have missed one or two older heads in the side. It was good he was able to perform in the way he did this evening."

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