Villa U21s 0-3 - Parker on target as U21s win group
Scott Parker started and scored as our Under-21s clinched top spot in National Group One of the Barclays U21 Premier League with a win at Villa on Monday night.
The midfielder drilled into the bottom corner from the edge of the box after good work from Yago Falque and Jonathan Obika for the second goal on the stroke of half-time.
Parker, who made a long-awaited return to first-team action as a late substitute against Swansea on Sunday, completed 68 minutes and has now started twice in the space of a week for our Under-21s, having played a full shift at Sunderland last Monday.
Senior Professional Phase Coach Chris Ramsey insisted beforehand that he wanted the team to finish the first half of the season 'in the right way' and they did just that with another impressive performance at Villa Park.
It was the team's sixth win in their last seven matches and they will now compete in the Elite Group in the second half of the season.
The match marked a showdown for top spot with Villa requiring at least a point to secure their place in the Elite Group. It was all to play for.
Both teams looked to get on the front foot from teh first whistle. Ryan Fredericks was first to test Craig Hill in the Villa goal and the home team responded with Graham Burke's effort just over and Jordan Bowery sliding the ball over from close range.
Parker fired over from distance and Janoi Donacien somehow diverted the ball away from Obika in front of goal from Andros Townsend's cross. Townsend was excellent, a constant threat.
After a quiet spell, we opened the scoring in typical style on 31 minutes.
Townsend got on the ball in the left channel and rolled it into the path of Jack Barthram on the overlap. The full-back picked out Ryan Mason and the midfielder made no mistake from six yards.
Parker's goal arrived in the 45th minute. This time Falque played the ball into Obika and he set it perfectly for Parker to find the bottom corner from 16 yards.
Lawrence Vigouroux made his first save of note in injury time, palming away Marc Albrighton's shot down to his right. Johnson followed up from 25 yards, his dipping effort grazing the top of the net.
Into the second half and we looked to have got in twice in the opening five minutes without testing Hill, before Vigouroux made a fine save to his left to keep out Bowery's point-blank header. Massimo Luongo then defended superbly, a diving header to glance away a cross destined for Bowery in front of goal.
As Villa pushed on, so the gaps started to open up. We almost exploited that with two chances in a minute just before the hour. First, Barthram crossed deep and Falque cushioned his cross back for Obika to turn and shoot, his effort striking the crossbar.
Townsend then got away from Albrighton and fizzed in a cross to the near post met by Obika's diving header just wide.
Parker was replaced by Giancarlo Gallifuoco in the 68th minute, a double substitution that also marked the arrival of Souleymane Coulibaly for Obika.
The next effort arrived a minute later as Mason connected with a piledriver from 30 yards, tipped over by Hill.
It wasn't long before Townsend was off down the left again and this time it led to the third goal. Janoi Donacien tried to intercept, but could only divert the ball towards his own goal. Coulibaly made sure as the ball crept over the line.
Townsend was unstoppable now and a 70-yard run almost led to the goal of the night, his left-foot shot from 16 yards tipped over by Hill. The winger then cut in and set-up Falque, who curled over.
It was all Spurs now and Hill needed to be at his best to first deny Falque from 12 yards, Townsend from 25 yards and then somehow beat away a potential own goal from close range from Albrighton.
Villa (3-4-1-2): Hill; Williams, Donacien, Webb; Albrighton, Johnson, Carruthers, Stieber; Burke (Grealish, 46); Bowery, Drennan. Unused subs: Barton, Barrett, Lewis.
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Vigouroux; Fredericks, Hall, Luongo, Barthram; Carroll, Parke (Gallifuoco, 68); Falque, Mason, Townsend; Obika (Coulibaly, 68). Unused subs: Priestley, Stewart.
Yellow cards: Villa - Webb.
Goals: Spurs - Mason (31), Parker (45), Coulibaly (78).
Referee: Mr A Hendley.