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Ressies push Villa all the way

The only goal of the game on 23 minutes settled the contest in favour of Aston Villa as our reserve side fell to a first defeat of the season at Villa Park on Monday night.

The only goal of the game on 23 minutes settled the contest in favour of Aston Villa as our reserve side fell to a first defeat of the season at Villa Park on Monday night.

It turned out to be an unfortunate own goal that determined the destination of points and, despite a second half rally, Villa held firm and won the night.

Marlon Harewood drilled wide on five minutes as he attempted to put his experience and power to effective use in a Villa side that contained a liberal sprinkling of players with a Premier League pedigree.

The man many of the locals had come to have a glimpse at was Carlos Cuellar, the recent recruit from Rangers at a reported £8m, who has yet to feature at first team level due to injury. He was partnered by Zat Knight at the back, while there was a familiar face on the Villa right in Wayne Routledge.

Chris Herd was next to fire just wide of the upright on 19 minutes as the home side pretty much dictated the tempo of the encounter with some lively wing play.

Three minutes later Villa took the lead in fortunate circumstances. A Zoltan Stieber corner fizzed through a crowd of players and sat up nicely for Herd to take a potshot on goal. Ben Alnwick made a superb reaction block, but the ball diverted onto the knee of David Hutton, who was on post duty, trickling over the line and into the net.

Isaiah Osbourne then rattled the crossbar before, in the moments before half-time, Routledge sped through on goal and should have scored, but poked wide of Alnwick's right hand post. Harewood burst through in a similar fashion before the whistle sounded with the same end result, albeit past the other post. Kevin Prince Boateng mounted a response at the other end, but shot wide in first half stoppage time.

Adel Taarabt and Hutton combined to present Boateng with the first chance of the second period, the German teed up to shoot from the edge of the area, but opted for placement rather than power and planted wide of the post,

Hutton carved himself out a chance on 56 minutes, this time opting for power and blasting over the crossbar.

Whatever Clive Allen said at half-time certainly seemed to have an effect on his side as an, at best, lethargic first half display was replaced by an energetic and imaginative start to the second.

Villa were pressed firmly on the back foot as the likes of Hutton and Andy Barcham injected pace into the team's efforts, supported by the unlikely source of Ricardo Rocha making sorties from the back.

Adam Smith and Andros Townsend took the place of Takura Mtandari and Kyle Fraser-Allen on 65 minutes, both substitutes having enjoyed some first team exposure over the pre-season period.

A breakthrough continued to prove elusive despite a far greater share of possession, with a Taarabt drive failing to really trouble Elliott Parish in the Villa goal with just over 15 minutes remaining.

Villa appeared to have weathered a minor storm as we entered the final ten minutes and established a foothold back in the game. Clive sent on striker Alex Olsen in place of Rocha for the last six minutes in a late bid to salvage some reward from the night.

It was not to be.