14th February 2004 - Finn Reddy (A)

St. Valentine's day it might have been but there was not much love in evidence when we came up against Finn Reddy out in Jobstown on Saturday.

We were hoping to put the previous two results firmly to the back of our minds and get ourselves back on track with a win.

We started the game brightly and were putting the Finn Reddy defence under plenty of pressure without getting the reward of a goal. We had a great chance when Sean placed a perfectly flighted corner onto Kierans head, unfortunately the ball sailed over the bar. Hugh and John were getting a lot of freedom up front but it seemed that we were going to attack all day and not score. Then a Finn Reddy break saw a cross reaching their forward at the back post and he had the simple task of tapping it in for 1-0. It was a lead that they did not deserve on the balance of play. Our heads dropped a bit (probably the last 2 weeks results in the back of our minds), but still had the lions share of the possession and chances. But just before half time some poor defensive work saw the ball break to an on rushing midfielder, John H could not get across to him in time and the ball was rifled past Hylo. At half time we were 2-0 down and spirits were pretty low.

The Manager is there to make the tough decisions and Billy made a few changes at half time bringing on Stretch for Sean and moving Kieran from centre half to left back. Once again the game took on the pattern of the first half with us having all the pressure without any end product.

Then about 20 minutes into the second period we got the break through that we deserved. A lovely free kick by Mark McCormack caused their defence all sorts of problems and John O'Reilly latched on to it and hit a sweet shot past their keeper. 2-1, and you could see a slight loss of confidence in the Finn Reddy ranks. Throughout the second half bombarded them with well taken free kicks and corners, and it was only a matter of time before the pressure told. Our equaliser was all Garreth's own work and determination. He blocked an attempted clearance by their No.3 and when the ball fell into his path he had the presence of mind to slot the ball cooly past the advancing keeper. The celebration was not quite Lua-Lua but the standing somersault was probably the most athletic post goal celebration ever seen by a Villa player (you have a lot to live up to Gerry..!). The pre Christmas belief we had developed in ourselves returned and we went for the Finn Reddy jugular. With about 5 minutes to go Kieran won the ball 18 yards out and hit a low left footed drive into the bottom corner, 2-3. It was a thoroughly deserved victory and a fantastic fight back in the second half. 14 players played and not one of them gave anything less than 100% - true Villa determination.