In a reserve match at Hinckley United's pitch today, Aston Villa drew Wigan Athletic 1-1. Villa ran-out a very strong lineup, featuring Ciaran Clark as captain, with Marc Albrighton, and Eric Lichaj rounding out the list of players with first-team experience. Gary Gardner was the other marquee name for Villa today. There was no TV coverage, so it's a bit hard to form a really solid opinion, but it seems that despite going down early, Villa played well and got a well-deserved draw.
In the early going it seems that Aston Villa's wing play was troubling the Wigan back line, but they held fast and didn't concede anything. It's worth noting, however, that Eric Lichaj and Marc Albrighton really seemed to click at times. Callum McManaman opened scoring in the 39th minute with a goal that was apparently quite well placed and left Villa keeper Benjamin Siegrist little chance. At the half, Wigan still held their lead even though Villa looked the better team.
In the second half, Albrighton continued his assault on the goal, launching a few long-range efforts. One got the feeling that it was just a matter of time before Villa equalised, but nothing came. As the clock ticked down and stoppage time was added, it seemed that Villa would go home as the better team, but nevertheless with a loss. Last-minute heroics by Gary Gardner, however, saved them the indignity. In the first minute of stoppage time, Gardner got his head on a cross from Albrighton and buried it in the net. I'm not too sure on the specifics, as Jack Woodward went so crazy that the audio feed cut out for about two minutes. It was the perfect cliffhanger. "Albrighton cros.. OH... :silence:"
So Villa came out even in a match that they likely should have won. Nevertheless, it's good to see Gardner doing well, and it can only be a matter of time before he makes the first team. Eric Lichaj, too, did well and surely has kept himself in the conversation for Luke Young's vacated spot.