Stoke U21 2-3 Villa U21: Drennan inspires Villa to thrilling win
Michael Drennan inspired Villa to a thrilling victory with a pair of magnificent finishes that left Stoke City stunned.
The boys in claret and blue fell behind to James Alabi's early goal but Drennan turned the game on its head with two goals of the highest quality after the break.
Andras Stieber also found the net for Gordon Cowans' team before Ben Haneghan scored a consolation for Stoke with the last kick of the match.
The result gave Villa a second maximum haul this season in the Barclays U21 Premier League.
Villa made four changes from the team that suffered a first league defeat against Newcastle three weeks ago.
Janoi Donacien, Mason Watkins-Clark, Jordan Graham and Drennan came in to the line-up for Nathan Baker, Enda Stevens, Daniel Johnson and Graham Burke.
Both teams had chances a in a frantic first period but it was Stoke striker Alabi who made his opportunity count.
He struck an angled shot into the top corner on seven minutes after latching on to Jordan Richardson's through ball.
Villa had goalkeeper Benjamin Siegrist to thank for preventing Stoke from adding to their advantage.
The Swiss custodian saved with his feet to divert Karim Rossi's shot behind, then he had to be at his acrobatic best to push away long-range efforts from Andy Musungu and Richardson.
The pick of his saves, though, was a one-on-one to deny Musungu after Stoke breached the back four with a swift counter-attack.
The away team had chances of their own with Graham a livewire on the right flank throughout the first 45 minutes.
He shot wide across goal following a superb diagonal run, before turning provider for two further Villa chances.
Firstly, Graham picked out Daniel Devine at the back post, whose knockdown was headed over by Janoi Donacien.
Another cross from the England U17 winger found Drennan but the Irish striker's volley was clawed away by Carlo Nash.
Samir Carruthers and Stieber both managed to release Jordan Bowery, who was unlucky not to add to his recent goal at Tottenham.
The former Chesterfield striker raced on to a Carruthers pass and motored towards goal but dragged his left-foot effort just wide.
On the stroke of half-time, Nash stood tall to block Bowery's shot after he collected Stieber's intricate ball.
Having had the better of the first-half, Stoke were left shell-shocked by Drennan's finishing materclass early in the second.
Seven minutes after the restart, Villa were level courtesy of the Kilkenny-born marksman.
He raced on to Cameron's through ball and hit a thunderbolt left-foot effort high into the net from around 18 yards.
Three minutes later, Drennan found the bottom corner with a left-foot free-kick which crept under the Stoke defensive wall.
The Republic of Ireland U19 ace nearly made it a hat-trick but Nash just managed to keep out his acrobatic effort from Graham's cross.
Stoke had a golden opportunity to equalise but Alabi headed off target from close range after meeting Michael Clarkson's ball from the left.
Stieber added a third in stoppage time. Nash couldn't keep out the Hungarian wideman's powerful low drive after the Stoke defence failed to clear yet another dangerous delivery from Graham.
There was still time for Heneghan to bundle home a consolation for the hosts after a scramble in the Villa penalty area.
STOKE: Nash, Glasgow, Clarkson, Arismendi, Heneghan, Keane, Richardson, Dawson, Alabi, Rossi, Musungu. Subs: Eve, Parry, Nardiello, Lecygne.
VILLA: Siegrist, Donacien, Watkins-Clark, Devine, Cameron, Graham, Carruthers, Westwood, Stieber, Bowery, Drennan. Subs: Barton, Hill, Melvin, Ward, Bateman [for Donacien, 83].
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