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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Twenty Years Ago Today - Villa Win Friendly At Edgar Street

For today's archive article, BN looks back to July 29th 2000 and the visit of Aston Villa to Edgar Street for a pre-season friendly.

Hereford United played against the youthful Aston Villa side expected this afternoon, but many fans were disappointed when Finnish international Peter Enckelman and England prospects Dariusz Vassell and Richard Walker didn't even appear on the substitutes bench. However, Aston Villa brought a selection of young star and reserve players which were good opposition for Hereford who have yet to win in four attempts this pre-season.

Though Hereford had much of the possession, the Villa side pinched a goal which swung the game in their favour with around ten minutes remaining of the match.

The first half was a fairly even affair, with Hereford just shading Villa possession-wise. Despite their clear advantage, Hereford couldn't manage to create any clear goalscoring opportunities and it was Villa who tested Cooksey with the first real effort. With one minute left of the half, a good run left the former Shrewsbury and Peterborough goalkeeper Cooksey facing the young Villa striker one-on-one, but Scott dived to his right to prevent him from scoring.

ABOVE - Chris Lane and former Luton midfielder Michael McIndoe attempt to close down a Villa youngster.

On the hour, Villa made a good opening which created a hairy moment for the United defence. First, Cooksey palmed away a cross but the ball fell to a Villa player out on the left who knocked it back towards goal, only for club captain Ian Wright to header away off the line.

An attendance of 1,198 was hoping to see a stronger Villa side but they would have been impressed with Hereford's new player-coach Phil Robinson, who played an outstanding opening home match for the Bulls. Also, former Luton Town midfielder Michael McIndoe played well and worked hard throughout, and will be a vital member of the side for next season. Matt Gardiner, the defender signed from Halesowen, had a quiet match but showed reassuring signs that he too will be important come the new season. On trial striker Michael Holte had a few good touches of the ball but failed to come up with the goal when it was required. Craig Hanson replaced Steve Piearce and again looked as if his lack of height lets him down, and Piearce had a good game before retiring through a slight knock.

Villa almost took the lead on seventy four minutes when a good volley came in and beat Cooksey. However, the ball rebounded off the far post and, after some hesitation, Ian Wright cleared the ball to safety. Immediately after, United surged forward and almost took the lead themselves, but the resulting shot went just wide of the post.

Aston Villa take the lead below the new scoreboard at the Blackfriars End (above).

Aston Villa did eventually take the lead with ten minutes remaining after a Villa cross from the left was slotted home by Jay Smith after Cooksey had come for the ball. A slight delay was evident before the new electronic scoreboard flashed up ***GOAL*** several times, but at least it's up and running! Fans were also able to keep up with the latest scores from the Scottish Premier League and were told about forthcoming events at Edgar Street via the board.

A free kick was conceded by Chris Lane with five minutes left, but the Villa free kick from twenty five yards went high over the bar, and thankfully missed the scoreboard! However, two minutes later Phil Robinson showed his set-piece potential with a free kick wide on the right, but no one could get a touch to the ball before it went out at the other end of the Aston Villa area.

Hereford - Cooksey, Lane, Sturgess, Robinson, Wright, Gardner, Rodgerson, McIndoe, Holte, Piearce, Williams.
Substitutes who came on - Shirley (37), Hanson (64), Beale (84).