Aston Villa Under-21 manager Gordon Cowans has praised Jack Grealish, striker Jerell Sellars and captain Jordan Lyden for their displays in Monday night’s dramatic derby victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Cowans was speaking to Villa’s official audioBoom channel after the U21 Premier League Division Two clash at Telford United’s New Bucks Head stadium, which saw his side twice pegged back before securing a 3-2 win in the closing stages through Sellars’ second goal of the game.
Grealish, who is currently struggling for first-team action, gave Villa the lead from the penalty spot in the 19th-minute after Andre Green was brought down in the box, before Bright Enobakhare's equalised with a deflected shot on the half-hour mark.
Sellars later restored his side’s lead in the 77th-minute following a well-worked team move, but Wolves levelled the scores again through Tommy Rowe with only three minutes remaining to set up a nervy finish.
Villa found a winner just before stoppage-time, however, as some smart work from Grealish culminated with Sellars firing home his second to hand the claret and blues all three points.
Speaking first about Grealish’s performance, Cowans said: “You can’t fault Jack tonight. He put a right shift in and gave it a right go, which we’d expect him to do anyway, but it wasn’t easy. They’re a big, physical side and they were decent as well.”
On Sellars, who has now netted six goals in 13 Under-21 appearances this season, the Villa legend added: “If you look at the amount of goals he’s scored this season from in and around the box, he is a natural finisher. That’s what his game is all about – scoring goals.”
In addition, utility man Lyden was also lauded for his strong central midfield display, in what was his first appearance for the Under-21s since making both his professional and full debut for Villa over recent weeks.
The 19-year-old Australian started at right-back in last Tuesday’s 2-0 FA Cup third round replay win over Wycombe Wanderers after appearing as a late substitute in the 1-1 draw at Adams Park, and having made an excellent impression on manager Remi Garde since his first-team promotion last month, is expected to get more senior opportunities in the near future.
“He looked full of confidence, Jordan, and so he should be after making his debut for the first-team,” said Cowans. “It got a little bit heated out there, which, as a derby game, it’s going to get that way anyway. But the lads showed some fight, saw it through and got the result we wanted.”