Date:Sunday July 19 2009
Move over, sporting boys of summer. The football is back.
Certainly our first away jaunt of the season was a pleasant one, not just because the lads were back in action, and we won, but on a personal front we were able to meet a 'long-lost' friend, who now resides in Spalding, and who hadn't been to a Villa game since mid-way through our European Cup winning season, back in 81-82.
Still, as they say, once a Villan, always a Villan, and that certainly applied to Jim, who even though it was only a pre-season warm up friendly, was soon back into the swing of things as we journeyed from Spalding to London Road for the game. The bug had bitten him again. Good to have him back. Good to have the Villa back.
Well, actually it was the Villa 'of sorts', in that our international lads, given an extended summer break by Martin, and not due to report back to Bodymoor Heath until this upcoming Monday, were obvious absentees.
Not to worry though, a chance for the youngsters to step up to the plate, and push for elevation to the senior squad for the upcoming premiership campaign.
A special mention to one of the youngsters if I may, welcome back Adam McGurk. Some of you will know how I've raved about this young man, even going so far as to describe him as the best young talent working his way through the ranks, that I've seen at Villa Park, since a certain Coleshill lad, name of Gary Shaw. Sadly a run of nasty injuries hit, stunting Adam's progress. Good though to now see him back on the scene, and good luck to him as he pushes to get his very promising career back on track.
Friendly or not, mid-July or not, there were certainly plenty of Villans in evidence when we arrived at the ground. The lads were sporting the new away kit, while our manager cut a dashing figure on the touchline, wearing his made to measure suit, as opposed to the training outfit he usually favours. All dressed up in style for the new season then.
Our starting line-up for this pre-season first warm game, looked as follows:-
Friedel, Cuellar, Knight, Davies, Shorey; Bannan, Sidwell, Reo-Coker (skipper), Albrighton, Harewood,Weimann, Subs: Parish, Lowry, Lichaj, Roome, Hofbauer, Herd, Clark, Osbourne, McGurk, Collins.
The only real surprise being the absence(?) of Luke Young, with Nathan Delfouesno on England under 19 duty, and Brad Guzan on an extended break.
For the first twenty-five/thirty minutes we looked very much second best, quite lethargic, and experienced something of a run-around. Brad Friedel make a superb double save to deny the home team, while the impressive Posh youngster Ben Wright, saw a powerful long range effort crash against the bar. Nicky Shorey had to make a fine last-gasp tackle to prevent the home side from breaking the deadlock, and it was very much against the run of play when we went ahead.
A fine inswinging cross from Marc Albrighton found the head of Andreas Weimann, and he sent a close range header past the home keeper, to give us a somewhat undeserved lead.
Peterborough had two decent chances to level matters within the next few minutes, but two headed efforts failed to trouble Brad.
As the half time break approached, Marlon Harewood got on the end of a fine Nicky Shorey delivery, but he was unable to direct his header on target.
A Nicky Shorey cross was pushed against the post by the home keeper shortly after the break, and then the best move of the game saw us increase our lead, Curtis Davies exchanging passes with Big Marlon after breaking out from defence, before rolling the ball past the keeper to put us 2-0 up.
Harewood should have made it three, but headed a Nigel Reo-Coker centre wide of the upright, but in the seventieth minute we completed the scoring, Steve Sidwell slotting home a neat effort after forcing his way into the box.
Mart rung the changes sending on James Collins for Harewood, and Isiah Osbourne for Barry Bannan, while Hofbauer, Clark, Lowry, Herd, Lichaj, Roome, McGurk and goalkeeper Parish all got to taste some action too, in what was a useful, if not strenuous work-out.
I thought that Steve Sidwell had a decent game, as did Nicky Shorey, while Brad certainly came to our rescue early on. Albrighton and Bannan certainly did their growing reputations no harm, while Andreas Weimann will have enjoyed his goal.
After the game it was back to Spalding with Jim, we picked up his charming good lady Helen, and off the six of us headed for a few brews, followed by a very enjoyable dining experience in their favourite local Indian restaurant.
Yes, a very enjoyable Saturday. I'm glad the football is back. Its now close to 4.30 a.m. Sunday, been home about an hour, time to get my beauty sleep.
After all, I need to be refreshed and rejuventated for the trip down to Colchester on Tuesday.
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Date:Sunday July 19 2009
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