A Match Report From Worcester (Sort of…)
I`ll be straight up and honest - I don`t know much about the players we saw at Worcester on Tuesday night. There was a time I would have - I`d have know my Issac Nkubi and David Curtolo from my Daniel Devine and Mason Watkins-Clark.
Despite that, the promise of going to watch Villa play on a hot summer evening after work was a good one - so of I went to St. Georges Lane to take in Aston Villa`s 'Development Squad` against the first team of Worcester City, who are in the Blue Square North league.
The players - other than Callum Barrett, Jack Grealish and Graham Burke, I can`t really say I knew of them. I`d guess the 'Development Squad` name was actually short for 'Everybody not in America apart from Hutton`.
A team so young they can`t wear shirts with a gambling sponsor on, against a team of men who, lets face it - looked like they`d been enjoying pre-season an awful lot.
Villa started well and took the lead within four minutes - a Drennan penalty after the player - who was probably Villa`s biggest nuisance all game - was brought down by a rather portly central defender. Had it been a game that had meant something, Fatty would have been sent off as he was the last man. Yet the referee decided as it was a friendly both teams should stay even. Fair enough.
I only call him Fatty as I`m jealous that despite his bulk he`s by far a better player I`ve ever been, or ever will be.
As the game drew on Worcester became stronger as the difference between the two sides became more apparent. Villa had the skill but lacked the physicality needed - Worcester players won the 50-50s, the Villa youth often 'bouncing` off their opposition and onto the ground.
And it was on the half hour mark that Worcester got their equaliser - Danny Glover tapping in after the ball was fizzed across the six yard box - showing himself to be City`s Lethal Weapon.
Villa continued to toil and found themselves back in front only minutes before half time - Malcolm Melvin celebrating his win of the 'Barry Bannan Best Name Competition` this year by heading in a Jack Grealish cross at the far post.
Half time comes and the request from Worcester City for fans to come over the weekend and help paint the stand further demonstrates that Premier League football is in another world to this.
Villa fail to penetrate Worcester in the second - and the one effort they did manage was skied over the bar by someone I didn`t catch the name of. Mike Finnan took a free header to equalise well, and then with only minutes remaining Danny Glover showed himself to be the Predator we thought he was by grabbing the winner.
In all fairness, the second half wasn`t as exciting as the first with Worcester holding Villa at arms length throughout. More entertaining, in fact, was Sean Verity on the sidelines who seemed to spend most of the second half getting irate at how the game was going.
Cowans` assistant certainly keeps the squad disciplined - pointing out to players where they should be and letting them know if they`ve been good enough when substituted. It`s certainly not the group of lads talking about their next trip to Nandos as you may expect if you follow them on Twitter.
We also managed to have a slightly controversial moment when the referee told Villa they could not make another substitution by bringing on players they`d previously removed. Whether or not it`s against the rules - it was a friendly for goodness sake - and why is it OK to ignore the rules and keep a player on the pitch when he should have been sent off, but for this not to be allowed?
Or, as Sean Verity told him: "It`s a f*cking pre-season friendly, you pr*ck".