Villa U21 0-0 Everton U21: Gardner features as young guns draw
Villa rounded off their Barclays U21 Premier League campaign with a goalless draw against Everton - as Gary Gardner stepped up his comeback from a long-term knee injury.
Gardner got just over an hour under his belt at Bodymoor Heath as the boys in claret and blue earned a point to seal second spot in their group.
And the 20-year-old midfielder had a positive impact on the young Villa side, going close with two free-kicks before forcing Toffees keeper Russell Griffiths into a fine one-handed save.
With a lack of forward options available again, Jerell Sellars made his U21 debut and led the line impressively.
Gordon Cowans' team dominated the early exchanges. Jack Grealish hit foot of the post after playing a neat one-two with Samir Carruthers, while Gardner and Daniel Johnson also went close.
For the away side, Joe Williams struck a half-volley just over the bar after racing on to a neat lay-off by Apostolos Vellios.
Moments before the break, Gardner came close to opening the scoring. His 20-yard drive looked to be heading for the roof of the net but Griffiths reacted brilliantly to tip over the bar.
The Toffees came back strong after the break and Courtney Duffers should have done better when he burst through middle of the Villa defence before blasting over.
Duffers also forced Benjamin Siegrist into a fine save just after the hour mark. The Swiss goalkeeper got a touch on the forward's effort to divert it on to the bar.
There was a good effort from Carruthers, who just missed the target with a clever chip, while Sellars and Johnson both fired wide across goal.
But Siegrist had to come to Villa's rescue again in stoppage time, throwing himself to his right to keep out Shane Duffy's header.
VILLA: Siegrist, Bateman, Kinsella, Gardner, Donacien, Webb, Stieber, Carruthers, Sellars, Johnson, Grealish. Subs: Calder [for Gardner, 61], Watkins, Crowley [for Stieber, 79], Lyden [for Donacien, HT].
EVERTON: Griffiths, Stones, Garbutt, Ledson, Duffy, Browning, Jones, Williams, Vellios, Duffus, Kennedy. Subs: Grant, Pennington, Molyneux, Touray, Green.