Aston Villa got their pre season underway with a trip down the road to Walsall. Twenty two different players featured for the Villans, majority got forty five minutes each apart from the two goalkeepers that featured – Jed Steer got eighty minutes under his belt whilst Viljami Sinisalo came on for the final ten.
Aston Villa set up with a 4-1-2-3 formation, Steer in goal, Cash, Konsa, youngster Seb Revan and new signing Ashley Young made up the back four, Nakamba as a holding midfielder, Jacob Ramsey and Carney Chukwuemeka in front of him, new signing Emi Buendia and Anwar El Ghazi out wide and Ollie Watkins up front.
Story Of The Game
Walsall got the game underway at the Banks’s Stadium, also known as the Bescot. Early on, Matty Cash had a shot from distance, Saddlers goalkeeper Jack Rose spilt it, but unfortunately for Cash, it only went out for a corner. Osadebe had a good chance for Walsall, Matty Cash made a good defensive header to clear any danger, Jacob Ramsey received it just outside the eighteen yard box and had a quick burst of pace before giving it to Ollie Watkins, Watkins tried to slide it through to Emi Buendia, however Jack Rose got their first. A long ball came forward from Walsall, Jed Steer came rushing out and brought it down, but then remembered he wasn’t an outfielder ; Brendan Kiernan won it off him, shot towards an empty Aston Villa goal, however it went wide and into the Aston Villa crowd behind the goal. The first big chance of the game came for Aston Villa, Ollie Watkins won it back high up the pitch and gave it to Anwar El Ghazi who put an audacious through ball in towards Jacob Ramsey who tried putting it across Jack Rose in the Walsall net, however a fingertip from Rose sent it wide, clipping the post on the way out. Buendia received the ball in the box twelve minutes in, two Walsall players surrounded the skilful Argentinian, his boot came off in the process, he complained to the referee and appealed for a foul, however nothing was given. Shortly after, a good passage of play from Aston Villa takes place before Matty Cash whipped a searching ball in towards Anwar El Ghazi at the back stick, however Jack Rose, who was great for Walsall inside the first twenty minutes or so, made another good stop.
The players took a water break around twenty minutes in, and shortly after, the deadlock was broken by Ollie Watkins. The water helped out a lot! A brilliant through ball from Emi Buendia was played in towards Ollie Watkins who took it round Jack Rose and slotted it home. More great work from Buendia as he squared it to Jacob Ramsey on the edge of the eighteen yard box, however Walsall defended well and it was blocked. Villa almost had a second as Matty Cash received the ball off a corner, drove into the box with it and blazed it over in to the home fans. Cash wouldn’t have been too bothered by his miss though, as shortly after, it was two for Aston Villa. Again, Emi Buendia pulling the strings, puts a ball through in towards Watkins who calmly slots it past Jack Rose.
At half time, Aston Villa made ten changes. Guilbert, Bogarde, Hause, Chrisene, Aaron Ramsey, Hourihane, McGinn, Davis, Wesley and Philogene Bidace all came on for Cash, Konsa, Seb Revan, Young, Nakamba, Chukwuemeka, Jacob Ramsey, El Ghazi, Buendia and Watkins. Goalkeeper Jed Steer, the only one staying on the pitch for the start of the second half.
Keinan Davis picked up a slight knock about a minute after coming on, however he was okay to carry on. A good bit of play between Davis and Wesley sees Philogene Bidace through to make it 3-0. A massive confidence boost for the youngster if one was needed. Fifty two minutes in, Hourihane put a searching ball into the box towards Wesley who stuck his leg out, however couldn’t get on the end of it. But again, like Matty Cash in the first half, he wouldn’t have worried for two long, because Villa scored a fourth ever so shortly after. Philogene Bidace gave it to Aaron Ramsey, brother or Jacob, who in a tight space, managed to get a shot away from around twenty yards out that found the back of the net. Good to see the youngsters linking up and good to see Aaron Ramsey on the scoresheet.
The youngsters that were brought on such as Chrisene, Bogarde, Aaron Ramsey and Philogene Bidace were all very good considering most of them hadn’t played a minute of senior football before. Lamare Bogarde in particular looked very comfortable on the ball for a young centre back. The Saddlers made a few changes an hour in, nothing that would change the game. Villa had a few more chances, McGinn found Guilbert on the right flank who put it across to Keinan Davis, however Davis couldn’t connect with the ball to help guide it goalwards. Eighty minutes in, Jed Steer’s work was done for the night, he was replaced by young keeper Viljami Sinisalo. Five minutes after, Davis took a shot on the turn, however Walsall defended well and blocked it, and another five after that, the full time whistle went, and Aston Villa were victorious in Walsall.
Man Of The Match
Emi Buendia – Two assists for the Argentinian, he looks tailor made for the number ten role behind Ollie Watkins. His vision and range of passing looks superb. Norwich have made a big mistake in letting him go.
Overall, a walk in the park for the Villans. It was good to see a few of the youngsters get the chance, you’d like to think it won’t be the last we see of them in pre season, some of them, we may even see at Stoke on Saturday.
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