Within the first twenty minutes, Aston Villa struggled to cope with Middlesbrough’s attacking play, relying on Matija Sarkic to pull off multiple point blank saves in the face of goal. Middlesbrough looked all-too comfortable on the ball and were happy to pass-and-move as well as launch threatening balls towards a nervous Villa defence.
However, with 30 minutes played, Dominic Revan was able to turn the tables on the match by burying home the first goal after a Villa corner. A crowded goalmouth saw the ball find Revan, who couldn’t do much more than tap the ball over the line to send Villa into the lead. The goal would send Villa into the half-time break with a 1-0 lead as Callum O’Hare scraped a low shot wide from long-range.
With the advent of the second half and the introduction of Mungo Bridge to the proceedings came Aston Villa’s chance to play some football and dominate the action. It also helped that Villa’s young defence found their feet, and with that a bit of organisation. Despite this, it was Boro’s chance to provide an upset, turning Villa over and grabbing an equaliser as a Steven Walker shot sailed past Sarkic. Villa faced further pressure after Bridge slipped over, allowing Boro a free run on goal - thankfully a whipped cross was escorted wide in the face of goal allowing for a corner.
AVFC held strong, and were granted a chance late on as a penalty was awarded to the Young Lions with five minutes to go. Callum O’Hare struck the ball well and restored Villa’s lead. His first goal since coming back from a major injury over the summer. It was a well-earned penalty as well - with Villa doing their best to cut inside and create a chance before being chopped down.
The win now takes Villa to second place in the second division of the Premier League 2, and you get the feeling that there’s a lot more to come from Villa’s U23 side.