Huws Completes 90 Minutes as U23s Beat Villa
Monday, 6th Nov 2017 21:45 by James Ager
Emyr Huws completed 90 minutes for Town's U23s as they continued their winning start to their Premier League Cup campaign with a 2-1 victory against Aston Villa at Portman Road thanks to goals from Conor McKendry and Luke Woolfenden.
Huws, playing his second U23s game as he continues his comeback from the achilles injury which has kept him out of action all season, started in central midfield with Dean Gerken in goal, Myles Kenlock at left-back and Danny Rowe wide on the right in a strong Blues side.
A blistering start from Town saw them open the scoring after just four minutes. Rowe's cross from the right was flicked on by Huws and McKendry bundled the ball over the line at the back post, despite the best efforts of a Villa defender.
The Blues came within inches of doubling their lead just two minutes later when Ben Folami released Rowe on the right. The diminutive wide man drove into the box and hit a fierce shot which keeper Viktor Johansson pushed against his crossbar and over.
On 14 Town hit the visitors on the break following a corner and McKendry carried the ball from the edge of his own box to the visitors' area, but his low right foot shot was tipped just wide by Johansson.
Captain Shane McLoughlin acrobatically volleyed over from six yards out after more good work from McKendry, shortly before Gerken was called into action for the first time just before the half hour mark when he got down well to push Corey Blackett-Taylor's effort round his post.
Ben Morris twice came close to extending the Blues' advantage minutes later - a dipping volley landed just the wrong side of a post and then a crisp first-time shot was comfortably gathered by Johansson.
Folami had a golden opportunity to net his eighth of the season on 36 when he burst onto McKendry's through ball after an inexplicable slip from Jacob Bedeau, but the Australian youngster slotted his effort inches wide of the far post.
Gerard Nash's side were then made to pay for failing to add to their early goal three minutes before the break. A low cross from the right was scuffed across goal by Jacob Ramsey and with the Town defence appealing for an offside flag that never came, Harvey Knibbs was left with a simple tap in at the back post.
In stoppage time the Blues came close to deservedly regaining the lead but Johansson did well to parry a McKendry effort and Folami met the rebound, only for his goal-bound shot to be blocked and cleared to safety.
Ten minutes after the restart a short corner routine saw the ball worked to Rowe and his trickery inside the box created a sight of goal, but the former Macclesfield man fizzed a low shot wide of the near post. Moments later Huws hit a good effort from the edge of the box which was clawed away from the top corner by Johansson.
On the hour mark Folami played the ball across to McKendry on the left side of the box and his drive was tipped over by Johansson, with Woolfenden's effort from the resultant corner being deflected just wide.
In a rare Villa breakaway which preceded a brief spell of pressure from the visitors, a left wing cross was somehow headed wide, unchallenged, by sub Dimitri Sea.
With just under 10 minutes remaining a hopeful ball down the line from sub Armando Dobra released Folami again, but Johansson produced another fine save at full stretch to tip his shot bound for the bottom corner just around his far post.
However, with two minutes of normal time remaining, Woolfenden grabbed the goal the Blues had thoroughly deserved to claim all three points.
A short corner on the right found Morris and his ball into the danger area from the byline was only parried by Johansson and centre-back Woolfenden reacted quickest and drilled the ball low and into the net.
There was still time for the visitors to come close to nicking a point in the third minute of stoppage time but Knibbs couldn't quite stretch far enough to get a finishing touch on Alex Prosser's ball across goal.
Town, who have claimed victories in their opening two Premier League Cup group matches, should really have won by a much bigger margin and after a scintillating first half display the game could well have been wrapped up at the interval.
Widemen McKendry and Rowe were a constant threat to the Villa defence in front of watching manager Mick McCarthy, who will be pleased that Huws appeared to come through 90 minutes unscathed.
It was another solid if unspectacular outing for the Welshman, who was still running around late on despite his lengthy absence, and came close to scoring in the second half.
Lincoln City boss Danny Cowley was among those watching the match.
U23s: Gerken, D Crowe, Kenlock, Huws, Woolfenden, Webber, McKendry (Clements 74), McLoughlin, Folami, Rowe (Dobra 80), Morris. Unused: M Crowe, McGavin, Lankester.
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