Kazaiah Sterling added to his fourth-minute opener with a well-taken header later in the first half, but Villa responded after the break through Jack Clarke and Callum O’Hare as the Barclays Under-18 Premier League match ended 2-2.
Rather than focusing on the disappointment of surrendering a two-goal lead, however, Under-18s Coach Kieran insisted there were numerous things to be happy about coming away from Bodymoor Heath.
“It was a really high-level youth game,” he said. “Our start to the match was excellent as we did everything that we’d want to do – we played with high intensity, played forward and created chances so I was really pleased with that and obviously we scored two high-quality goals through Kazaiah Sterling, which was also pleasing.
“We still spoke to the boys, though, because even at 2-0 we were all aware that the game wasn’t dead. Aston Villa are a team who play with a lot of spirit and I thought the third goal was always going to be very important.
“Villa obviously managed to get that with a deflected shot and then they got it back to 2-2, so we’re naturally disappointed not to have won the game from the position that we were in, but there were a lot of very pleasing aspects of the performance and overall it was a really enjoyable game.”
Kieran also spoke highly of Charlie Hayford, who put in another committed display following his recent move from midfield to right-back.
“Charlie Hayford was excellent and he’s got that from his form in training really,” he added. “He’s trained very well this week and I thought he was in credit last weekend as well, playing in a different position at right-back.
“Today he was excellent, both in his defensive work and his efforts going forward.”