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Under-18s draw at Villa

Aston Villa 1-1 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Sat 20 February 2021, 14:34|Tottenham Hotspur

Aston Villa’s Seb Revan cancelled out Dane Scarlett’s opener with a free-kick 12 minutes from time as the spoils were shared in a feisty Under-18 Premier League clash at Bodymoor Heath on Saturday lunchtime.

We had the better of the first period and although Scarlett saw his early penalty saved by Filip Marshall, the striker made amends with a thunderous strike into the top corner from 20 yards just before the half-hour mark.

Villa made life difficult for us after the break and had the clearer chances of that spell, centre-forward Brad Young denied by a fantastic save from Thimothee Lo-Tutala before full-back Revan curled home from a set-piece from 20 yards out to snatch a point for his side.

Our players clearly felt they had something to prove after a heavy defeat at Fulham in midweek and started strongly, the commanding Nile John striking the base of the post with a shot from distance that deceived Marshall inside four minutes. Scarlett had a chance to put us ahead seven minutes later after the energetic Max Robson was fouled in the box by Sil Swinkels, but Marshall saved the forward’s spot-kick down to his right.

Roshaun Mathurin shot straight at the keeper from the left angle inside the box before Scarlett unleashed his frustration at his earlier miss with a 20-yard rocket to give us the lead on 29 minutes, Marshall getting his fingertips to the striker’s right-footed shot but unable to prevent it from flying into the top corner.

Our goalkeeper Lo-Tutala, back in the side after being on the bench for the last two games, made an important block from Tristan Goodridge as Villa carved out their first real chance in the run-up to half-time, but the hosts upped their game in the second period and both Young and Swinkels went close, while Mathurin’s effort at the other end was deflected wide as we sought a second goal.

Young could have scored for Villa on 66 minutes after Arjan Raikhy’s cross was knocked back into the centre by Aaron Ramsey, but Lo-Tutala produced a stunning save to deny the striker from a central position, eight yards out.

However, with players from both sides going into the book as a full-blooded contest rumbled on, it was Revan who equalised with a left-footed free-kick after Maksim Paskotsi had been penalised for a challenge just outside the box. Midfielder John embarked on a terrific solo run from deep to find his way into the Villa box moments later but was unable to conjure up a shooting chance for either himself or his team-mates up in support and with that went our hopes taking maximum points, the match ending 1-1.

‘A very even game of football with two good teams’

Under-18s Coach Matt Taylor reflected: “I thought it was a really good game. Most importantly for our players, they played with high energy, passion, commitment and coupled that with their ability, so it was a really pleasing performance for me. At times the game dictated that we had to change slightly in the way that we played and the players made that decision on the pitch and led themselves, which is fantastic for us to see. I was really pleased with the type of game it was, but also the performances of our players and how they stood up to it when we didn’t have the ball – we were compact, our shape was good – and then when we had the ball, how quickly we transitioned into attack was much better than it has been in recent weeks. Obviously we had a disappointing result in midweek, we asked the players for a positive reaction and that’s what we got.”

Speaking about the way the second half panned out compared to the first, Matt added: “In football, teams will always have a spell in the game where they’re on top. We had the longer spells in the first half and that came through our very good play and from making sure that we were organised when we were out of possession. In the second half we were always going to get a reaction from what I thought was a very good Aston Villa team, they at times had sustained pressure on us in the second half but I thought we dealt with it really well. They had to produce a moment of brilliance to score a goal and they’ve done that, but we still had big moments in the game and in the second half we had two or maybe three big moments where perhaps with a bit more composure we would have come away with the win. But it was a very even game of football with two good teams, it was extremely competitive and that’s obviously what we want to see.”

Aston Villa 1-1 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Spurs: Lo-Tutala (c), Lusala, Kyezu, Matthew Craig (Whittaker 84), Muir, Paskotsi, Mathurin (Carrington 72), John, Scarlett, Robson (Michael Craig 65), Mundle. Substitute (not used): Maguire.