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Dominant Under-18s hit four at Villa

Aston Villa 2-4 Spurs Under-18s

Sat 01 October 2022, 14:00|Tottenham Hotspur

Our Under-18s made it back-to-back league wins on Saturday afternoon with a comprehensive 4-2 win away at Aston Villa.

Despite having fallen behind in the clash with Oliver Irow’s opener on five minutes being cancelled out by Kadan Young within 10 minutes before Kobel Moore put the hosts ahead early in the second half, we should have been out of site by the break as we took the game to the Villans.

However, we responded superbly to going behind though as we registered two in as many minutes to retake the lead with Damola Ajayi (57) and Mikey Moore (58) hitting the target before Jaden Williams gave us a cushion with our fourth on 72 minutes, which sealed all three points in the West Midlands. The team will be disappointed they didn’t manage to hit more than four though, having not just controlled proceedings but having constantly threatened in the final third, registering 16 attempts at goal.

It was from the off that we showed our threat in the final third and it took just five minutes for us to find the back of the net at Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground – Irow finishing off a slick counter-attack, curling in-off-the-post from 20 yards out. Just four minutes later, he tried to repeat the feat only to be denied by the fingertips of goalkeeper Sam Lewis. Yusuf Akhamrich then went close with a free-kick on 11 minutes.

We were good value for our lead but we were made to rue our missed chances come 14 minutes as a break from Villa was finished off by Young as his deflected strike found its way into the back of the net to level the scores. The hosts could have then even taken the lead come the 17th-minute but for smart defending from Archie Chaplin to clear Nile Timson’s goalbound header off the line.

Yet, from that point, we took control of possession and of proceedings and went on to create a number of opportunities. Williams, Irow, Moore and Ajayi all had opportunities to restore our advantage but none of them could make their openings count. On 36 minutes, Ajayi then had a gilt-edged chance as we looked to retake the lead, but Lewis was quick off his line and got enough on the strike to send it just past the post.

Despite our dominance, it must be noted that our hosts did pose a threat on the break and, had it none been for some smart reflexes from Luca Gunter to deny Young on 41 minutes, we would have gone into the interval behind. On 53 minutes though, Villa’s quality on the break did catch us out as Moore curled in from range as the Villans turned the game on its head.

That goal though had come completely against the run of play and it wasn’t much of a surprise to see us respond almost instantly as a loose ball was picked up by Williams in the box before he teed up Ajayi to tap home the equaliser. What was a surprise, perhaps, was the speed at which we managed to retake the lead as, just five minutes after initially going behind, we were back in front – this time it was Moore in the right place at the right time to mop up Irow’s parried shot and slot home.

The hosts did respond – Ruben Wilson drawing a spectacular save out of Gunter from close range on 68 minutes – but on 72 minutes, we wrapped up the points with Williams once again latching onto a loose ball before twisting and turning in the box to get away from goalkeeper Lewis and lash the ball home.

As the game came to a close, further opportunities fell for substitutes Riley Owen and Tom Bloxham, but neither could add to our tally with the former's angled drive just off target before the latter struck the crossbar.

'We really dominated the game, but there is probably a tinge of disappointment that the scoreline wasn't more convincing'

Reflecting on the result and the performance, Under-18s Coach Stuart Lewis said: "I thought it was an outstanding performance. In terms of performance levels, it was one of the best we have produced so far this season. We played with real intensity, with and without the ball, and there was purpose to our play.

"We really dominated the game, but there is probably a tinge of disappointment that the scoreline wasn't more convincing. I think we arrived in final third on numerous occasions and there were some big moments, whether it be that final pass or the execution on the strike. Those moments are so important and, unfortunately, we probably weren't as ruthless as we would have liked to have been but, at the same time, it is a really positive result and a pleasing day for the players and the staff."

Aston Villa 2-4 Spurs Under-18s

Spurs: Gunter (c), McKnight, Linton, Chaplin (Bryan Waugh 83), Andiyapan, Abbott, Akhamrich (Bloxham 56), Moore, Williams, Ajayi (King 83), Irow (Owen 75). Substitutes (not used): Krasniqi.