Villa in Germany report: SV Rodinghausen 1-1 Villa
Nicklas Helenius bagged a debut goal for Villa as Paul Lambert's men earned a 1-1 draw in Rodinghausen.
The first match of Villa's pre-season tour of Germany ended level as the claret and blues stepped up their fitness ahead of the upcoming 2013-14 term.
Helenius was one of six newboys who played a half each and he was thrilled to swoop at the near post six minutes into the second half to give the visitors the lead.
The hosts levelled matters late on with a quality strike, Soren Siek hammering home a 30-yarder which gave fellow new recruit Jed Steer no chance.
The result was fair overall although Lambert was keen to stress after the game that this encounter was merely an extension of training.
The first half was certainly even with no real efforts of note although fans did get a glimpse of the attacking spirit of Aleksandar Tonev and Leandro Bacuna.
Antonio Luna looked bright and enterprising, Jores Okore solid and dependable and Jed Steer agile and athletic in a second half which offered more attacking impetus than the first.
Forward Helenius certainly took little time to make his mark when given a chance, heading home at the near post following an exquisite ball in from right-back Matt Lowton, who continued his good form from the previous campaign.
Despite the lack of chances in the opening 45 minutes, the performances of signings Bacuna and Tonev will have pleased the manager.
Tonev, in particular, was enthusiastic in possession and always willing to have a go in front of goal.
Confident with both feet, the Bulgarian was eager to get at the Rodinghausen defence and saw two long-range efforts fly off-target.
Marc Albrighton may not have been a newboy but it felt like it as the willing wideman showed effort in abundance on the right-hand side in that first half.
He sent over three corners before the break and always looked for the ball as the visitors aimed to make things happen against a resolute German team.
Just like Albrighton in the first half, it was good to see fellow long-term casualty Gary Gardner back in the claret and blue line-up as he looks to impress boss Lambert after the break.
On the action front, Villa were only able to muster half-chances on goal in the first half and, in fact, Rodinghausen had a good effort to take the lead.
Marius Krause broke down the left and fired at goal only for player of the year Brad Guzan to parry the ball away from danger.
The visitors came out with an entire new team - and more purpose - after the break and 6ft 5in forward Helenius bagged his first goal for his new team with his cracking header.
He nearly doubled his - and his team's - tally on 69 minutes, only just missing out on Andi Weimann's fizzing ball into the box from the right.
Villa had a legitimate penalty shout with just 12 minutes remaining as Ciaran Clark was felled in the box but the referee waved away protests.
That decision had a big bearing on the contest as the hosts went up the other end and scored with their next attack.
Siek blasted home from a good 30-yards out, leaving steady Steer with no chance.
There was still time for both sides to win it, Helenius almost nodding home Ashley Westwood's centre and Steer saving brilliantly from a one-on-one for forward Francis Williams.
A draw was about the right result as Villa build their fitness ahead of the new term.
First Half: Guzan, Vlaar, Baker, Bacuna, Albrighton, Delph, Sylla, Bowery, Tonev, Bennett, Herd.
Second Half: Steer, Lowton, Okore [Carruthers], Clark, El Ahmadi, Helenius, Agbonlahor, Luna, Westwood, Weimann, Gardner.
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