Aston Villa 2 (Sanders og, 7’, T.Strain 33’)
Stoke City 1 (Douglas, 61‘)
STOKE CITY'S Under-18s were unfortunate not to come away with a point from their visit to Aston Villa’s Training Ground on Saturday morning.
In a game of two halves where the home side went into the interval 2-0 up, the Potters fought back through Kelvin Douglas but were unable to find the elusive equaliser in a dominate second period.
City had to deal with a goalkeeping crisis early on when Dominic Kurasik was forced off through injury and with no substitute keeper on the bench captain Ed Sanders went in goal.
It was the hosts who made the brighter start and were ahead after just seven minutes. Riccardo Caldir was released down the right and his ball across the box was poked in by the unfortunate Sanders under heavy pressure.
City keeper Kurasik was knocked unconscious in the process and had to be taken off as a precautionary measure and with no imminent replacement goalkeeper, Sanders donned the gloves.
The Potters didn’t let the incident affect them though and almost drew level eight minutes later, but Derice Richards saw his left-wing corner cleared off the line.
Villa had two good chances to extend their lead before the 20th minute but Jordan Sellars’ shot across goal took a deflection and went just wide, before Ryan Strain unleashed a shot from the edge-of-the-area which flew narrowly over.
Sanders had to be at his best moments later when he twice denied Sellers as he expertly turned the attacker’s shot wide of the right-hand post before tipping over his long-range shot.
City responded with an effort of their own when Douglas found space just outside the area and played in Ryan Shields, but the winger’s effort across goal went just wide.
After consultation with the referee and opposition manager, Stoke were allowed to bring on goalkeeper Daniel Gyollai who had previously been sat on the substitutes bench for the Under-16s on the adjacent pitch.
Villa went close just after the half hour mark when Khalid Abdo fired over from 16 yards and a minute later they took the lead.
Stoke lost possession in their own half and Abdo released Ryan Strain inside the box and the striker made no mistake from eight yards with a clinical finish.
The visitors finished the half stronger and almost grabbed a goal back when Johnville Pringle won the ball in the centre circle before surging forward and seeing his 20-yard shot well held by the keeper.
City’s youngsters continued on the front foot after the break and midfielder Kieran Monlouis went narrowly close with a 25-yard free-kick which cannoned off the right-hand post before being cleared away to safety.
John Perkins brought on Oliver Roberts after 60 minutes and it proved to be an inspired substitution as the lively attacker’s first touch was to flick the ball into the path of Richards who bore down the left before his pull back was coolly finished by Douglas from eight yards.
Stoke were certainly the team in the ascendancy and Richards went close with a close range shot which was deflected just wide before Douglas tried to outfox the Villa keeper with an audacious 45-yard free-kick which had to be tipped over.
Villa had chances of their own, though. Henry Lowans slashed just over from close range before Caldir’s left-wing cross was headed onto the crossbar by an onrushing midfielder.
The Potters had one final chance in the dying moments to claim a point but Pringle’s long-range effort flew over.
ASTON VILLA: Grant, R. Strain, Wildin, Cowans, Lyons-Foster, Toner, Lydew, Sellars, T. Strain, Abdo, Caldir. Subs: Zazrivez, Bannister, O’Brien, McKirdy, Lewis.
STOKE CITY: Kurasik, Banks, Pickerill, Monlouis, Sanders (c), Edwards, Shields, Douglas, Richards, Pringle, Shenton. Subs: Roberts, Fincher, Vassell, Coban, Weston-Hayles.