After 19 years of waiting, Villa’s youth team finally lifted the FA Youth Cup on Monday night.
The under-18s completed a brilliant campaign with some silverware following a confident and impressive performance against Liverpool’s youth side.
It all started back in December following a dramatic 93rd-minute winner from Barry against Reading to reach the next round. From that moment, it was clear that this set of young lads had their eyes set on the prize, and their determination for success would ultimately carry them to glory.
A subsequent 3-0 cruising past Brighton and a 9-0 thumping of Burton showed real intent from Villa, as well as the incredible talent amongst the squad to produce free-scoring football. A further battering of Newcastle and West Brom took Villa to the finals, a game in which they would play in front of over 4,000 fans at Villa Park.
Villa’s start was blistering, with Arjun Raikhy keeping the ball in play to set up a great goal from Chrisene after just seven minutes. The build up play highlighted the guts and determination of this young side, who were challenging for every ball and dominating play from the outset.
Shortly after, Liverpool’s Koumetio caught Brad Young in the box, leading to a penalty to Villa after just ten minutes. The number nine, who was hard-working all night, tidied away a casual spot-kick to double Villa’s lead in the early stages of the final.
The rest of the game was comfortable for Villa, albeit slightly wasteful given the sheer amount of great quality opportunities. Raikhy absolutely dominated the centre of the park, with Chukwuemeka, Barry and Young producing chances consistently throughout the evening. A special mention also to Bogarde, who looked extremely calm and collected at the back, and Kaine Kesler for his relentless running, ball-winning and attack-initiating.
Liverpool’s half-time substitute, Frauendorf, did pull one back for the away side in the last 20 minutes, though luckily this was just a consolation. Villa continued to maintain the pressure, but were unable to capitalise on further great chances from Raikhy and substitute Aaron Ramsey. Liverpool were kept mostly quiet, with short spells of dominance muted by Villa’s dogged defending and desire.
The full-time whistle blew and the thousands admitted to Villa Park lit up at the sight of their academy achieving glory. All of the squad, coaches and backroom staff erupted into celebrations and Sweet Caroline blared from the speakers for the second evening running.
This silverware not only signifies an excellent end to the season for the entire of Aston Villa Football Club, but a further benchmark moment in the clubs progression towards bigger and better times. The likes of Barry, Young, Chukwuemeka and Kesler have impressed so much this campaign, and we can only hope that some of them can become homegrown talent in Villa’s first team in years to come.
Hopefully this is the first of many trophies for the club and its academy in the near future.
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