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Fa Youth Cup Semi Final


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Blackburn Rovers 2 Aston Villa 2 (aggregate 2 - 4)

Earlier today Rovers Youth side entertained Aston Villa in the semi-final, second leg of the FA Youth Cup. Already trailing 2-0 from the first leg at Villa Park Rovers’ youngsters faced an uphill task against a Villa side recognized to be full of talent and, (I think?), the Youth Cup holders. The Villa side was probably, on average, two years older than the Rovers players and at least one of the visitors has first team experience.

Arriving late your reporter missed the first 20 minutes but none of the goals. At this point Rovers No.5 Luke Jones was receiving extensive treatment on the edge of the penalty area following what I gather was a very heavy challenge from the Villa No.8 Craig Gardner. Jones was eventually stretchered off and replaced by Clark Walsh at centre back. Playing against a hard tackling and physically strong Villa side, Rovers showed good touches and controlled the ball well. Twice in a minute Matt Derbyshire (23 mins) and Keith Barker (24 mins) both went close with good cross-goal efforts from the edge of the area.. Then on 30 minutes Craig Gardner went very close for Villa with a good shot following an excellent pull back from the left side of the box. A warning of what was to come. On 34 minutes Villa broke forward and with good movement just outside the area Christina Kabeya created the chance for Shane Faul to pass the ball into the net from 8 yards. 1-0 to Villa and 3-0 on aggregate.

Peter Corvino had looked dangerous for Rovers down the left and in the 36th minute his work was rewarded when his cross to the far post was met 10 yards out by Matt Derbyshire, who placed a fine header inside the keeper’s left hand post. Despite their excellent football Rovers struggled to create another opening in the first half and fell behind again on 44 minutes when Gabriel Agbonlahor put Villa further ahead with a right foot shot from the edge of the area.

Rovers started the second half very strongly and within a minute equalized through Joel Byrom. Joe Garner replaced Keith Barker at half time and aside from the 46th minute goal Rovers created several good chances in the first ten minutes. Villa still enjoyed a 2 goal aggregate lead and were happy to defend and wait for chances to break. Rovers pushed forward and in the 67th minute more excellent play and a cross by Corvino provided Garner with a far post chance. He met the ball well and headed firmly down but the Villa keeper gathered cleanly by the post. Five minutes later Corvino was involved once more, this time bring a great parry from the Villa keeper as he saved the winger’s left foot drive. Moments later Corvino was substituted by Ralph Welch on the right and Sergio Peter moving out to the left.

Rovers continued to push forward and in the 80th minute the Villa keeper produced a twisting finger tip save to prevent Rovers taking a deserved lead following a strong drive form the edge of the box. In the last 10 minutes neither side created another opportunity until in injury time when Steven Drench in the Rovers goal flung himself to his left to prevent a third Villa goal.

A hard fought and entertaining game finished 2-2. Both teams played attractive, entertaining football although from time to time some of Villa’s tackling and niggling play was disappointing to see in young players. Peter, Byrom and Welch were booked for Rovers with Gardner seeing yellow for Aston Villa. Once again the Youth side gave a crowd of around 1000 plenty to feel positive about. This young side has some exciting prospects, lets hope we are talking about them again next season and in the years to come. Congratulation to the players and youth team staff, there’s no disgrace in going out in a semi-final.

Blackburn Rovers Drench, Peers, Taylor, Weaver ( C ) , Jones (Walsh 20 mins), Barr, Peter, Byrom, Derbyshire, Barker (Garner 45), Corvino (Welch 68)

Aston Villa: Olejnik, Ward, Green, Troest, Cahill, Foley, Kabeya, Gardner, Faul, Nix.

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