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Worcester City 3 Aston Villa 2
SUBSTITUTE Greg Mills enhanced his claims for a new Worcester City deal by helping them to a thrilling 3-2 victory over Aston Villa.
Tonight’s entertaining pre-season friendly at St George’s Lane was more like a cup clash – a close goal-laden encounter boasting some fine passing football with a few robust challenges thrown into the mix.
Winger Mills, having returned on trial after failing to earn a contract at a higher level, tore down the left flank eight minutes after coming on as a half-time replacement to eventually set up the equaliser for Mike Symons.
With two minutes remaining of normal time, late substitutes Kyle Haynes and Michael Taylor combined with Danny Glover tapping in a simple goal for the winner.
It crowned a fascinating match on a balmy Worcester evening that featured none of the boredom normally associated with this time of the season.
In fact, the huge raft of second-half substitutions was the only telling evidence that the real action was still several weeks away.
Villa made the perfect start when City right-back Tyler Weir was caught out by a direct ball and referee John Law ruled he had hauled down centre-forward Michael Drennan.
Drennan confidently sent keeper Glyn Thompson the wrong way from the penalty spot to open the scoring for the Premier League outfit who showed off their academy prospects to a crowd of 907.
City refused to lose heart after the early blow and burly striker Symons forced a low save from keeper Calum Barrett after sloppy defending.
Then right winger Charlie Reece capped a lively first period by stepping inside to drill goalwards and poacher Glover directed the ball into the bottom corner on 25 minutes.
The equaliser failed to deter the Villa youngsters who went ahead for the second time 13 minutes later through Malcolm Melvin’s header at the far post.
It was created by Jack Grealish’s cross from the left wing, rewarding the teenage forward’s dazzling dribbling skills.
Mills replaced Matt Birley for Worcester at the break and quickly made his impact with a darting run that earned a free-kick.
He then provided the perfect inswinging set-piece for Symons to bury a header at the back post on 53 minutes.
Reece forced a low save from Barrett and Mills went close with a 20-yard free-kick before the latter failed to test the keeper seriously after a slick link-up with Glover.
But Glover was indeed the lethal weapon for City two minutes from time although the chance could hardly have been easier.
Haynes, up from right-back, intercepted the ball near the halfway line and strode forward before supplying the jet-heeled Taylor who raced into the box and squared the perfect pass.
The winner continued City’s impressive unbeaten pre-season record and it all looks extremely promising for when the Blue Square Bet North business commences.
City: Thompson; Weir (Haynes 85), Elvins (Ayres 74), Khan (Whitehead 63), Deeney; Reece (Edwards 68), Thorley, Denny (Breeze 58), Birley (Mills 46); Glover, Symons (Taylor 82). Subs not used: Rowe, Sargeant.
Villa: Barrett (Watkins 82); Barton (Stevenson 46), Devine, Donacien (Lewis 58), Cameron (Kinsella 46); Burke, Ward, Watkins-Clark (Eminoglu 68), Melvin; Drennan (Nelson 79), Grealish (Williams 79).