Villa U21s 2-0 Blackburn U21s report: Crooks/Robinson on target
Villa U21s collected their first win of 2013 courtesy of a decisive second half against Blackburn U21s.
The first period at Hinckley United was a tepid affair, with very few clear-cut chances.
But the development side stepped it up after the break and won the contest with two goals of immense quality.
First, young forward Alfie Crooks flicked home a superb Daniel Johnson cross from the left on 52 minutes.
Then strike partner Callum Robinson secured the victory on 77 minutes with a stunning 25-yard drive, which left goalkeeper Matthew Urwin with no chance.
The win will have pleased coach Gordon Cowans, who was looking for a response after his side's 3-1 loss to Middlesbrough on home soil in the last game.
Jack Grealish, while not on the scoresheet, was the main man throughout the contest as he weaved his way down the wing with awesome abandon.
He gave the away side's stoppers a torrid time, producing some scintillating touches during a 90 minutes which only really got started after the break.
Danny Devine was the only player who looked like finding the net in the opening 45 minutes.
The young defender headed a Johnson corner over on five minutes and then produced a carbon-copy finish from a Johnson free-kick three minutes later.
The pair linked up again on the half-hour mark and once more Devine couldn't direct his header goalwards.
The only chance for the visitors came just before the half-time whistle, Hugo Fernandez Molina's scuffed shot in the box causing little damage as it rolled wide.
If the first half was sobering, the second half was scintillating.
Rovers started brightly, Peter Wylie striking a 25-yard shot like an exocet missile on 48 minutes.
It dipped and swerved and just cleared Benji Siegrist's upright.
But that chance only served to inspire the claret and blues.
Grealish's low left-foot shot was deflected wide on 50 minutes but Villa weren't to be outdone.
Johnson crossed in a wonderful ball two minutes later and striker Crooks glanced the ball slightly...but enough to beat...Urwin in goal.
Robinson almost made it two from 20 yards on the hour mark after engineering space for the shot but Urwin produced a wondrous save.
Villa U21s settled the game, though, on 77 minutes when Robinson - undeterred by his first howitzer - tried again from slightly further out.
This time it flew past Urwin and doubled the home team's advantage.
The result was just what Cowans would have wanted from his side - and was thoroughly deserved.
VILLA: Siegrist, Bateman, Kinsella, Stieber, Devine, Donacien, Barton, Johnson, Robinson, Crooks, Grealish. Subs: Webb, Barrett, Eminoglu, Lyden, Lewis.
BLACKBURN: Urwin, Wylie, Beesley, Jorge, Edwards, Henrique, Payne, Cotton, Forrester, Hanley, Molina, MacLaren, Dilo, Laverty, Pero, Osawe.