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Match Report

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Aston Villa vs Celtic

It was honours even in the battle for North v South bragging rights as Celtic came from behind to record a draw against Aston Villa, a result that keeps both teams hopes of qualification from NextGen Group Four.

The tournament has proven to be an important stepping stone for both teams youngsters, with Gary Gardner and Tony Watt now fixtures in their respective senior sides having impressed in last season’s inaugural tournament - the 18-year-old Watt going from NextGen squad to Champions League squad in less than 12 months.

Whilst Celtic might have failed to avenge the 2-1 defeat at Villa Park earlier in the tournament, Stephen Frail will be delighted with the character and tenacity shown by his charges to come from two goals behind against
Aston Villa.

Celtic had the best of what was a tepid opening quarter interspersed with some neat, intelligent touches from Patrik Twardzik, one of which released Bahrudin Atajic but the Swede's first touch around Villa goalkeeper Craig Hill was too heavy leaving the 18 year-old with far too acute an angle to
trouble the score sheet.

Twardzik would again stretch the Villa rear-guard in the 22nd minute with only a fine header on the stretch from Daniel Devine denying Jamie Lindsay a clear run on the Villa goal from the Pole's lofted pass.

Villa took the lead moments later somewhat against the run of play, Jordan Graham glancing a fine header from a superb Brad Lewis cross in off the post past Glenn Daniels in the Celtic goal for his first of the tournament.

The set back of falling behind elicited a strong reaction from the Bhoys who increased the tempo of their passing in an attempt to restore parity to proceedings, with Twardzik now roaming across the Villains back line probing for an opening.

Despite having the lion’s share of possession, Celtic lacked penetration and looked particularly vulnerable in the air.

It was this aerial weakness that would to yet again prove be their undoing; Michael Drennan stealing in between the Celtic centre back pairing of Fraser and Findlay to plant emphatic downward header low past Daniels to
double the visitors lead five minutes before the break.

A determined Celtic came out in the second half looking to get themselves back in the game as early as possible and were inches away from reducing the deficit only a minute into the second half, Stuart Findlay somehow managing to head a Atajic corner over from barely a yard out.

Celtic continued to push the visitors back in search of an equaliser and got their reward in the 53rd minute with Twardzik again the architect, his in-swinging cross from the right forcing Daniel Devine to head into his own net leaving Craig Hill with no chance in the Villa goal.

But the expected Celtic deluge never materialised, with the hosts having plenty of the ball in front of the Villa defence but struggled to offer any real penetration, their greatest chance of an equaliser seemingly via a cross in to the box or a piece of magic from either Atajic or Twardzic.

Ironically it was a combination of both that put Celtic back on level terms, Joseph Chalmers shaping a delightful deep cross into the heart of the Villa area for Twardzic to steer a header underneath Craig Hill in the 73rd minute.

With the bit now between their teeth, the hoops committed to finding a winner, pressing a previously resolute Villa deep into their own half, an approach that left them vulnerable to Villa's pace down the flanks on the break.

Celtic's cavalier approach failed to find a winner and the hosts were lucky to escape with a point; keeper Daniels getting the benefit of doubt from referee Brian Colvin after flapping at a cross deep into injury time after Grealish had tapped into a empty net.

CELTIC FCvsAston Villa FC
CelticAston Villa
2-2

Devine 53' (og)

Twardzik 72'

Graham 24'

Drennan 39'

Venue: Firhill Stadium Date: 24 Oct 2012, 19.00 LOCAL time

Celtic:

Line up: Daniels, Fisher, Chalmers, Fraser (c), Findlay, Irvine, Twardzik, Kidd, Atajic, Johnstone (84), Lindsay

Subs: Miller, Hart, McNally, McMullan, Kirwan (84), McManus, Henderson

Coach: Tommy McIntyre

Cards:

Aston Villa:

Line up: Hill, Bateman, Lewis, Lyden, Devine, Watkins-Clark, Graham, Ward, Drennan, Carruthers (85), Grealish

Subs: Barton, Barrett (85), Crowley, Dempsey, Strain, Calder, Cowans

Coach: T. McAndrew

Cards: