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Opening-day loss for Under-18s at Villa

Aston Villa 4-0 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Sat 12 August 2023, 14:09|Tottenham Hotspur

The damage was done in the first half as our new-look Under-18 side suffered a 4-0 opening-day defeat at Aston Villa on Saturday.

Skipper Rory Wilson led the way for the hosts with a hat-trick, adding to Charlie Pavey's opener, with Wilson completing his treble at the start of the second period after we'd found ourselves three goals down at half-time.

We memorably ended last season's Under-18 campaign away at Villa with Premier League Cup final glory, but this meeting in the league was a long way away from that as the new term got underway against the same opponents with a vastly different line-up and display. We were noticeably better in the second half, but were flagged off-side numerous times over the course of the game as we struggled to make an impact in the final third.

Both sides hit the woodwork in the first 20 minutes as a fine strike from defender James Rowswell smacked off the Villa crossbar, before Luka Lynch fired an angled shot against the near post at the other end.

The opener was a bolt from the blue as Pavey arrowed a superb shot into the top corner from 20 yards in the 22nd minute, while Jack McDowell could have doubled his side's lead when he guided his header from a free-kick off-target a couple of minutes later.

Oli Irow slid a low shot wide for us but when Wilson ran clean through on goal from inside his own half on 34 minutes, he was always going to make it 2-0, the striker duly firing home after initially hesitating upon the advances of goalkeeper Elliot Krasniqi.

Villa broke away again for number three in the 41st minute, Lynch crossing from the right for Wilson to double his tally, but after Yusuf Akhamrich rolled a shot wide in a similar manner to Irow earlier on, we gifted the striker his treble nine minutes after the restart when he stepped onto Mikey Moore's wayward backpass from the left side and slotted past Krasniqi.

The impressive Tyrese Hall had our best chances to reply throughout the remainder of the game but was fractionally off-target with his shots, while Krasniqi did well to deny substitute Cole Brannigan in the last few minutes as we were left frustrated at Bodymoor Heath.

'We needed to be a lot more decisive'

Under-18s Coach Stuart Lewis was disappointed with our display. He told us afterwards: "Obviously it's really disappointing result-wise and also performance-wise. We needed to be a lot more decisive and add some end product to our game and also behind the ball, we were too open at times, so it was a disappointing start to the season and it leaves us with a lot of work to do in the coming weeks. From the first whistle in the second half there was an intensity to our play which we always demand, but you want that at 0-0, not 3-0 down. Then the fourth goal, they scored against the run of play and that was pivotal in the end result so there's lots of things to assess and work hard towards on the training pitch in the weeks ahead."

Aston Villa 4-0 Spurs (Under-18 Premier League)

Spurs: Krasniqi, Black, Logan, Rowswell (Arganese-McDermott 79), Morgan (King 63), Willhoft-King, Akhamrich (Lehane 46), Olusesi, Irow (Adekunle 79), Hall (c), Moore. Substitute (not used): Bloedorn.