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"Sendings off shouldn't detract from the performance" - Cooper

FT: Tamworth 2    2 Aston Villa

31 July 2005

Tamworth came from a goal behind to lead their final home friendly 2-1 but the game will be remembered for the 21 man brawl just minutes before the final whistle.

Referee Rob Hyde from Burton had no choice but to show Villa's Lee Hendire and Tamworth's Kyle Storer red cards after both players became embroiled in a bout of fisticuffs. Hendrie appeared to pull Storer to the floor after Storer took the ball from his feet and the young Tamworth midifielder retaliated. Almost every outfield player then became involved in trying to separate the two and after the skermish had subsided both were sent for early baths.

"I do not condone violent conduct from my players, but thought that the referee, as it was near the end of the game, perhaps could have shown some leniancy and asked that both lads be substituted. We now look set to lose Kyle for the start of the season." said Cooper after the game, "but I don't want the incident to marr an otherwise excellent performance against a very strong Premiership side. We looked solid, like we wanted to win, passed well and were dangrous from set pieces. Compared to this time last season we are light years ahead of where we were. We didn't look second best and Villa didn't really hurt us. I'm more than happy with the way the squad is shaping up both mentally and physically."

Trialist 'keeper Alex Bacherini was at fault for the opening goal after less than 30 seconds, allowing Steven Davis to take the ball around him and slot home before The Lambs even got a touch. Luke Moore then headed wide and Peter Whittingham showed some good touches. Lee Hendrie shot over and Moore put a 25 yard effort wide but despite the chances Tamworth looked solid and composed.

Adie Smith's shot on 23 minutes appeared to strike a hand of a Villa defender but no penalty was given and shortly after Julian Alsop and Simon Hollis combined to provide Bob Taylor with an opening but his effort went over the bar.

Bacherini made a couple of good saves from Hendrie and Moore before a Scott Stamps tackle on Lee Hendrie earned him a booking.

Tamworth pulled one back in excellent fashion from a Simon Hollis free kick which flew perfectly onto the head of Aaron Brown for a far post finish.
And 4 minutes later Brown made it 2-1 to Tamworth. Stamps' free kick was flicked on by Hollis and Brown directed his header past Stuart Taylor.

Brown's first goal
The Lambs controlled much more of the play in the second half with Alsop creating problems up front and substitute Nathan Jackson almost making an instant impact with a snap shot that flew wide.

Hollis' 30 yard free kick struck the corner of post and bar on 70 minutes and Taylor had two chances in the next 10 minutes to extend the lead.

But it was Villa substitute Gabriel Agbonlahor who squared the tie on 78 minutes with a close range strike following good play down the right.

Referee Hyde, after dealing with the fracas, stopped the game a few minutes early to put paid to any on field backlash. But as Cooper said "The performance before the incident was excellent and is what we will be building on."

Bacherini, Smith, Bampton, Brown, Hollis, Ward, Alsop (Storer 83), Stamps (Jackson 61), Taylor, Turner, Whitman (Heggs 66)

Taylor, Ward, Foley, Green, Ridgewell, Burson, Hendrie, Davis (Agbonlahor 61), Moore, Whittingham, Djemba-Djemba

Att: 1197

MOM: Aaron Brown

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