Harry McKirdy and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy both hit the target during a first half which belonged largely to the visitors in terms of clear chances and, although substitute Shayon Harrison livened things up for us in attack during the second half and pulled a goal back on 69 minutes, it was ultimately Villa who ran out 2-1 winners.
Of our starting XI, only Anton Walkes and Luke Amos retained their places from Thursday night’s FA Youth Cup victory over Wolves as we rang the changes – with Under-16s players Marcus Edwards and Kazaiah Sterling making their respective first and second starts in the Barclays Under-18 Premier League.
Villa pressed right from the start at the Training Centre, forcing a couple of early corners before Kodi Lyons-Foster headed wide from McKirdy’s free-kick. Skipper Rory Hale then ran onto a loose ball on the edge of the box but drilled over the top.
The visitors opened the scoring on 10 minutes as McKirdy turned into space in the right channel and angled the ball past goalkeeper Tom Glover.
Andre Green caused right-back Chris Paul problems on a couple of occasions as Villa continued to put us under pressure, but both times Glover was there to deny the wide man at the expense of corner kicks. The second one was taken short, with Hale’s deflected shot forcing Glover into action again as he dived to tip the ball low around the post.
We did manage to get forward a couple of times in the opening quarter of the game but a Charlie Owens corner that was cleared was all we really had to show for our efforts.
Villa continued to test us at the back as Callum O’Hare looked for McKirdy with a through ball, but Walkes came across to cover. Green then stung the palms of Glover with a fierce 25th minute strike before Villa doubled their lead four minutes later.
Nobody in a white shirt got on the end of Walkes’ long clearance with Lyons-Foster taking the initiative and nudging the ball into the path of Hepburn-Murphy, who ran on and slotted past the advancing Glover from the right side of the 18-yard box.
There was a glimpse of our attacking potential six minutes before the break as Armani Daly burst down the right and was hauled back by Hale, who was cautioned as a result. Edwards’ subsequent free-kick was cleared, however, and we went in at the break with work to do.
We started the second half brightly and a neat move involving Amos, Ryan Loft and Sterling saw the ball crossed dangerously into the box – but with nobody there to meet it the chance went begging.
Zenon Stylianides latched onto a cross from Lloyd Ross on the left and volleyed inches past the post on 48 minutes, while Glover made a low stop at the near post after Hepburn-Murphy surged down the left and tried his luck at the other end.
Owens, wearing the captain’s armband, skied a free-kick over the bar on 67 minutes after a foul on Edwards before we reduced the arrears two minutes later.
After some good work on the left by Sterling, substitute Anthony Georgiou proved effective on the overlap and crossed to Stylianides on the edge of the box. He then worked the ball in to the feet of Harrison, who swivelled in the area and fired home from 10 yards.
Boosted by the goal, we spent the remainder of the game looking to carve out openings. Edwards pulled off a great turn on the edge of the box on 77 minutes and played in Sterling on the left, but Ryan Strain was there to block his effort.
As time ticked away, substitute Cy Goddard saw his angled effort blocked in the six-yard box, while Sterling couldn’t quite get on the end of Paul’s useful stoppage time cross from the right in our last real chance of the game.
Spurs: Glover, Paul, Ross (Georgiou 62), Owens, Amos, Walkes, Daly (Goddard 70), Stylianides, Loft (Harrison 62), Edwards, Sterling. Substitute (not used): McDermott (GK).