Shayon Harrison had fired us ahead 11 minutes into the Barclays Under-18 Premier League contest at Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground and we looked good value to go on and win the game on the strength of our first half showing.
But Harrison’s afternoon took a turn for the worse when, after Callum O’Hare bundled home an equaliser shortly after the interval, he was penalised for a tackle from behind inside his own area and a penalty was given.
He was spared further misery, however, as Harry McKirdy’s spot kick cannoned off the crossbar – the points ultimately being shared.
Pouring rain at the start of the game prevented either side from getting straight on the front foot with our first chance coming five minutes in, captain Joe Pritchard heading wide following Anthony Georgiou’s right wing cross.
Georgiou played a key role in our opener after 11 minutes, floating in a free-kick from the right which was knocked down into the path of Harrison who gratefully rifled home from six yards out.
Pritchard got his head to another ball midway through the first period after Ismail Azzaoui headed Georgiou’s cross back into the centre of the box, but his downward effort was too close to Villa goalkeeper Dylan Forth.
The centre-half pairing of Cameron Carter-Vickers and Anton Walkes had to be strong throughout the contest to prevent the home side’s attackers from picking the lock – and it was the former who forced the ball behind at the expense of a corner as McKirdy got to the byline on the left after a fluid move by his side.
Keeper Forth stuck out a leg to divert Georgiou’s low cross away from the danger zone on 39 minutes, while Villa’s Corey Taylor was denied twice in quick succession – first by a good block from Luke Amos and then by the alert Tom Glover in goal with three minutes to go until the break.
Kyle Walker-Peters was causing the hosts all manner of problems with his mazy runs from deep on the right, but it was our opponents who found the net seven minutes into the second half. Glover spilled Taylor’s corner under heavy pressure from O’Hare, who bundled the ball over the line from close range.
Harrison and Azzaoui both saw shots blocked as we tried to regain the upper hand, before we introduced Under-16s striker Kaziah Sterling for his debut at Under-18 level. The switch saw Sterling assume duties as the lone front man, with Harrison moving to left-back.
Glover was equal to a rising shot from Villa substitute Harry Lewis on 72 minutes but just seconds later we found ourselves under pressure again and Harrison challenged Lewis from behind – the referee pointing to the spot. Glover dived the right way, but he was relieved to see McKirdy’s powerful right-footed penalty strike the crossbar and rebound away to safety.
Two minutes later we almost got ourselves back in front as Walkes fed Georgiou on the right, his quick cross being turned over by Carter-Vickers as he arrived in the box.
Pritchard invaded the Villa area again on 80 minutes after exchanging passes with substitute Charlie Owens, but the return ball ran beyond him and Forth was able to gather.
Khalid Abdo robbed Carter-Vickers and produced a low stop from Glover shortly afterwards, while Owens fired off a rising shot that appeared destined for the top corner – only for Rory Hale to turn the ball behind with a header on the goal-line.
Carter-Vickers stood his ground to prevent Rushian Hepburn-Murphy from rolling in behind the defence, but it was the assistant referee’s flag that came to our rescue four minutes into stoppage time. Owens lost possession and Hepburn-Murphy fed Jake Humphries, but the Villa substitute was off-side as he scampered into the box and clipped the ball into the bottom corner of the net – his effort duly being ruled out as the game reached a dramatic conclusion.
Spurs U18s: Glover, Walker-Peters, Muscatt (Sterling 69), Amos, Carter-Vickers, Walkes, Georgiou, Stylianides (Owens 49), Harrison, Pritchard, Azzaoui (Daly 74).