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Conor Bursnell26 Nov 2023 - 19:13
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Atherstone Town suffer a narrow defeat in first game under new management.

Atherstone Town were knocked out of the Birmingham Senior Cup on penalties by Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon.

The visitors named a strong team, and led at half time thanks to a Rico Richards goal.

The Adders grew into the game, and struck a late equaliser through Jacob Shelton to force a penalty shootout.

The away side would edge the spot kicks, with an Atherstone miss seeing Villa progress with the score 9-8.

Next up for the Adders is another home game, against Studley on 2nd December.

It was a bit of a wait for new manager Mitch Thompson to see his side take to the pitch for the first time, but the tie was worth that wait. Aston Villa would be the visitors to The GAM Civils Stadium, bringing with them a young but experienced team.

A bumper crowd of 527 were on hand to see what the future will hold in the latest new era at the Adders. They were treated to gritty, hard fought display by the hosts, who gave it their all until the final whistle.

It was Villa who controlled much of the first half, dominating possession and creating the better chances. Atherstone looked to get in behind on the counter, with the returning Lewis Collins asking questions of the back line.

Carl O’Neil was forced into a couple of smart first half saves, but could not prevent the visitors taking the lead. An unfortunate defensive slip allowed Rico Richards a simple finish to open the scoring for Villa.

The Adders responded well to the goal, and threatened Villa with a series of set pieces, and crosses from both sides. Going into the break, the hosts trailed but were far from out of it.

Atherstone came in the second half with the same determination, and started to ask serious questions of their younger opponents. Corners and long throws looked to be the best route to goal, although most were dealt with by Villa captain Josh Feeney, a player often involved with the first team.

As the end of the game neared, the Adders rolled the dice and started throwing men into the box at every opportunity. In the dying moments, an O’Neil free kick caused mayhem in the box, and in the melee the ball was poked home by substitute Jacob Shilton.

The Atherstone fans behind the goal exploded, knowing that the team had in all likelihood taken the game to a penalty shootout, where anything could happen. The shootout would prove to be a dramatic one, with ten spot kicks taken by both sides.

It started excellently for the Adders, as Villas Kobei Moore lifted the first of the penalties high over the bar. Unfortunately, Jack Collins would see the Adders third effort saved, sending it to sudden death. The efforts from both side were of a very high quality, and the away side were not affected by the raucous support behind the goal.

Eventually, an Atherstone miss would hand Aston Villa the win, as Callum Rudd effort cannoned off the cross bar and away. The players were given a rousing ovation as they left the pitch, giving a great account of themselves at the start of a new management era. There were plenty of positives for Mitch Thompson and his staff to take from the performance into the future.

Focus returns to league action next week, as Studley will be the visitors on Saturday 2nd December. Following that it will be back to back away matches, against Uttoxeter Town and Stone Old Alleynians.

Plenty of reasons to be positive around the Adders right now, so be sure to carry on getting along and supporting the lads.

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