U23 Report: Saints 1-4 Aston Villa

By SFC Media time Mon 15 Jan Saints v Aston Villa
Photo by James Bridle | Sam McQueen
Mon 15 Jan 7PM
Premier League 2 - Division 2
Aston Villa
McQueen [45']
Green [24'] McKirdy [28'] Tshibola [40'] Suliman [89']
yellow card
Suliman [62']
Venue: Staplewood Campus | Attendance: 100

Three goals in 16 first-half minutes condemned Saints’ youngsters to a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Aston Villa at Staplewood Campus on Monday.

The visitors, fourth in the PL2 and one of the league’s highest scorers going into the game, proved to be a cut above Saints offensively on the night, as strikes from Andre Green, Harry McKirdy, Aaron Tshibola and Easah Suliman earned the away side the three points.

Sam McQueen’s smartly taken drive narrowed the deficit on the stroke of half-time but that was as good as it got for Saints who spurned a pair of gilt-edged chances in first-half stoppage time.

Radhi Jaidi’s young charges – featuring the likes of the returning Josh Sims for the second match in succession - had not tasted competitive action since a 4-2 defeat to Wolves on 11 December and their lack of sharpness told in what proved to be a decisive first 45 minutes.

A bright start to proceedings threatened an opening goal for both sides. Saints had Callum Slattery to thank early on, the midfielder diverting Tshibola’s goal-bound header off the line on nine minutes before Yan Valery cut inside to slam narrowly wide of the post moments later.

The visitors remained the more enterprising of the two teams and might have taken the lead earlier were it not for the reflexes of Jack Rose, the Saints keeper expertly holding onto James Bree’s driven effort from the edge of the box.

There was nothing he could do about the game’s opening goal midway through the half however as Andre Green eluded the attentions of Valery before slotting under Rose from a tight angle.

One became two within four minutes of the restart, Harry McKirdy converting from the penalty spot after Valery’s trip on Green in the inside right position.

The diminutive forward would then turn provider just before the interval to add his team’s third, scampering to the by-line and crossing low for Tshibola to finish emphatically from close range.

McQueen reduced the arrears in style on the stroke of half-time, showing strength to ride a tackle in midfield and composure to pick out the far corner with his left foot.

Had Tyreke Johnson shown the same cool in front of goal, Saints may have entered the break within one of their thereto dominant visitors, the winger skewing Valery’s menacing right-wing cross wide of the target with the goal gaping in first-half stoppage time.

A second bite of the cherry remarkably came the way of McQueen from the resulting corner, Matt Targett’s corner skimming through traffic in the box for Saints’ number 10 to flick over the top unmarked.

Saints improved for a stronger start to the second period but rarely looked like penetrating a well-organised Villa backline for a second time despite enjoying the lion’s share of possession throughout.

A drop in tempo did little to help either side as the game passed the hour mark and it was Villa that came closest to adding a fifth goal of the evening as Jacob Bedeau nodded off target at the back post with ‘keeper Rose stranded.

Nathan Tella, a late substitute for Slattery, flashed a delivery from wide across the face of goal with Olufela Olomola waiting in the closing 10 minutes but Kevin McDonald’s Villains had already done enough to collect a deserved victory at Staplewood.

Suliman's late fourth following a free-kick completed a disappointing night for Jaïdi's Saints. 

Line ups not available

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