Villa U21 0-2 Fulham U21: Youngsters slip to defeat at Hinckley
Villa missed a chance to go top of their Barclays U21 Premier League group, suffering a frustrating defeat to Fulham at Hinckley.
A victory would have lifted Gordon Cowans' team into top spot in Qualification Group One on goal difference but they were unable to build on their recent successes over Blackburn and Sunderland.
An early strike from Omar Altman put the claret and blues on the back foot before Cauley Woodrow sealed the three points for Fulham a minute from time.
Coach Cowans was able to select six players in his starting line-up that played in last week's brilliant NextGen Series triumph at Ajax.
But, in truth, Villa rarely looked like reproducing that performance here in a contest that saw very little goalmouth activity.
A lacklustre first-half produced few chances but the away side grabbed an all-important deadlock-breaker.
The first attempt on target produced a goal, with Altman delivering the only real moment of quality in the opening period.
With nine minutes on the clock, he neatly turned away from his marker and powered a low 18-yard drive past Brad Watkins.
Watkins also had to be alert to hold Altman's half-volley four minutes later.
But Villa struggled to make an impact at the other end of the field, with Daniel Johnson and lone striker Graham Burke both caught offside after making progressive runs.
Adding to the home side's frustration, defender Derrick Williams pulled up with an injury after 21 minutes and had to be replaced by Lewis Kinsella.
Villa made the brighter start to the second-half, with full-back Kinsella teeing up Burke for a volley which was charged down by Matthew Briggs.
Kinsella and Andras Stieber went close with left-foot efforts that flashed wide of the target.
But Fulham's half-time substitute Muamer Tankovic proved to be a major threat and he neatly played in Alex Smith, who struck a first-time shot against the bar.
Smith also forced Brad Watkins to tip a curling free-kick around the post.
In the 89th minute, Fulham wrapped up the win when Woodrow tapped home Taknovic's low cross-shot from inside the six-yard box.
Woodrow squandered a golden opportunity in stoppage time, shooting over the bar with an open goal in front of him.
VILLA: Watkins, Donacien, Webb, Stieber, Devine, Williams, Barton, Carruthers, Burke, Johnson, Grealish. Subs: Kinsella [for Williams, 21], Sellars [for Barton, 85], Calder [for Grealish, 74].
FULHAM: Etheridge, Passley, Kavanagh, Minkwitz, Briggs, Grimmer, Islamovic, Smith, Woodrow, Christensen, Altman. Subs: Joronen, Tankovic, Sambou [for Minkwitz, 83], Arthurworrey [for Briggs, 83].
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