Aston Villa — or more accurately half of Aston Villa — took the field against a trialist-heavy Kidderminster squad.
Aston Villa Team: Bunn, Hutton, Borg, Richards, Chester ©, Tshibola, Hourihane, Bjarnason, Gardner, McCormack, Hogan.
The squad took control from the opening whistle with McCormack having a decent chance within the first five minutes. Alan Hutton has his typical running boots offering some forward movement on the right.
Conor Hourihane opened the 17/18 scoring books (take that you Telford match watchers!) in the 10th minute after a sequence where a slew of Villans could have scored — Tshibola effort was saved and a Hogan shot was blocked. Hourihane made no mistake of it.
After the goal Villa sat back a little — often trying to play out of the back and forcing Keeper Bunn to have the ball a good deal at his feet. Captain James Chester had to come to the rescue with a clean tackle in the box when the Harriers had numbers and a few minutes later Micah Richards was caught flat-footed and Kidderminster missed their first decent change with a side volley going wide.
The second goal all started with Tshibola being in a good position and controlling the ball in the attacking half before being fouled outside the box. Conor Hourihane took control of the free kick and put in a really nice touch pass. Would have gone in to the lower corner (or been saved) but James Chester gets a foot on it and and doubled the Villa lead.
Hogan and McCormack almost hooked up for score in the 41’ — Hogan sent in a good cutback pass from the right (his second the match). Only a last ditch effort from defender saved the Harriers — but very nearly put the ball into his own net.
The second half saw a tiring Villa squad (which is the point). Only one change at the half — Borg out and left back with Kevin Toner in — meant more of a workout for the players. McCormack forced another decent save early on. Chester continued a very good performance with another crucial tackle eight minutes into the second half. He is really good — and will need to be for Villa again this campaign.
Young Villa players were put on throughout the second half with Harry Mckirdy, Jacob Bedeau, Alex Prosser, Khalid Abdo, and Corey Taylor (I think that was all of them) came on. Of note Bjarnason, Hogan, and McCormack played the whole 90.
Young Harry Mckirdy (who replaced Tshibola) added the cherry on the top in the 82’ for a 3-0 win for Aston Villa.
Verdict: Solid outing for this part of the squad. Good day from Chester, Tshibola, Hourihane, and Bjarnason. The only real negative on the pitch was Richards. He isn’t very good. Neither forward got on the scoresheet — but were still solid contributors. Hogan ran everything down and McCormack forced a few saves/deflections that could have easily been goals. Most importantly — no injuries at Kidderminster.
It is nice to see Villa back on the pitch.