After a first half in which we created a handful of chances and came up with some last-ditch defending at the other end, we fell behind within two minutes of the restart as defender Christian Maghoma’s attempted back-pass rolled all the way in.
Samuel Shashoua and substitute Kazaiah Sterling were both thwarted by Villa goalkeeper Viktor Johansson as we looked for a route back into the game, but ultimately the visitors escaped with a 1-0 win.
Under-18s Coach Kieran McKenna named four Under-16s players in the starting line-up to give the next crop of youngsters some more experience at Barclays Under-18 Premier League level and it was one of those individuals who almost gave us a sixth-minute lead, defender Jon Dinzeyi getting forward to meet Keanan Bennetts’ left-wing cross, only to head wide of the near post.
Jack Roles, who had fired over the bar in the first couple of minutes, then set up Tashan Oakley-Boothe but he also curled his effort off target.
We were in full control in the opening stages but we had to be alert at the back as Villa tried to edge themselves ahead midway through the half. First, Dinzeyi hacked clear at the back post after Rushian Hepburn-Murphy headed Mitch Clark’s free-kick across goal on 20 minutes, with makeshift left-back Bennetts (pictured, below) producing a goal-line clearance three minutes later after Jordan Cox picked up possession in the box and clipped the ball beyond goalkeeper Tom McDermott.
Debutant Reo Griffiths couldn’t get a clean connection on Oakley-Boothe’s cut-back at the near post with Villa clearing their lines at the expense of a corner on 37 minutes, with Griffiths going close again in first-half stoppage time as he latched onto Maghoma’s long ball over the top but dragged his shot wide.
Villa’s goal arrived in unexpected circumstances two minutes into the second period as centre-half Maghoma’s back-pass evaded McDermott and went over the line, despite the keeper’s best efforts to scramble back and stop it.
The incident seemed to stun us for a few moments but we almost found a way back into the game on the hour mark when Shilow Tracey sent a low ball in from the right and Shashoua let fly from a central position eight yards out, only for Johansson to tip over the bar.
Villa might have doubled their lead five minutes later when Clark sped away from substitute Jaden Brown and crossed for Jake Humphries – off the bench in the first half for the visitors – but his first-time shot spun wide.
Roles then sent Sterling through at the other end but Johansson was out quickly to smother at his feet and as we entered the closing moments it began to look like it wasn’t going to be our day.
Dylan Duncan did manage to test the keeper with a deflected low shot while Humphries missed the chance to wrap it up for Villa when he blazed high and wide after being picked out in space on the edge of our box.
Sterling tried a couple of shots from within a congested Villa area in time added on, but Johansson’s goal wasn’t truly threatened and the visitors took maximum points.
Spurs U18s: McDermott, Tracey, Bennetts (Brown 60), Marsh, Maghoma, Dinzeyi, Shashoua, Kirby (Sterling 60), Griffiths (Duncan 72), Roles, Oakley-Boothe. Substitute (not used): Austin (GK).