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James Chester plays 70 minutes in victory for Aston Villa U23s

Club captain James Chester continued his comeback by playing 70 minutes as Villa Under-23s claimed a 1-0 win over Fulham.

James Chester
James Chester

Chester, who has not played a first-team match since January due to knee and hamstring injuries, was joined by Kortney Hause, Lovre Kalinic and Jonathan Kodjia in a strong home XI for last night’s Premier League Two clash at Villa Park.

The Wales international enjoyed a relatively straightforward evening in a disappointing game which appeared destined to end goalless until substitute Indiana Vassilev headed home with seven minutes remaining.

Striker Kodjia, who has been limited to just one substitute appearance in the Premier League after injuring his ankle and then breaking a cheekbone, completed 80 minutes but did not register an attempt on goal.

Instead Vassilev, who replaced him off the bench, broke the deadlock with his first touch less than three minutes after coming on.

Villa were fortunate not to concede an early penalty when Jake Walker appeared to barge over Luca De La Torre in the box but referee Karl Evans waved play on, much to the visitors’ surprise.

Sonny Hilton then fired an effort over the bar for the Cottagers having found space in the box but that was as close as either team came during a first-half low on quality.

Villa picked up after the break and Cameron Archer almost set up the opener for Kodjia but was unable to pick out the striker with his cross.

Lewis Brunt then sent a chipped effort wide of the post, before Archer shot straight at Taye Ashby-Hammond when perhaps better placed to cross.

Croatia international Kalinic, in the Villa goal, was not seriously tested until the final 15 minutes when he was forced to tip over a rising effort from Martell Taylor-Crossdale.

The hosts went ahead when the impressive Jack Clarke picked up the run of Vassilev with a curling cross, with Kalinic preserving the three points when he tipped over Jayden Harris’s volley.

Villa: Kalinic, Walker, Rowe, Chester (Revan 71), Hause, Birch, Archer, Brunt, Kodjia, Clarke, Tait (Odutayo 59) Subs not used: Sea, Vassilev, Sinisalo (gk).

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