Villa U21 1-0 Norwich U21: Grealish earns youngsters first win
Jack Grealish bagged the decisive goal as Villa earned their first win of the new Barclays U21 Premier League campaign.
The Villa young guns bounced back from last week's defeat at West Ham with a gritty and energetic performance at the Pirelli Stadium.
The first of four home fixtures to be staged at the home of Burton Albion proved to be a lively affair, with both sides contributing some fast-paced attacking play.
It was settled by a brilliantly-worked goal by Grealish just before the break.
The 17-year-old winger was a fitting match-winner having been at the heart of Villa's best attacks along with fellow attacker Callum Robinson.
But it was Norwich who made the brighter start, with Brad Watkins called into action after just five minutes. The Villa keeper got down to his left to make a finger-tip save from Jamar Loza's low shot.
Canaries winger Joshua Murphy caused problems on the left hand side and it was his cross that picked out Carlton Morris, who couldn't steer his header on target.
But after the away team's initial dominance, the claret and blue young guns began to get into their stride.
Two chances fell to skipper Daniel Johnson. Firstly the midfielder curled a free-kick just wide and moments later another long-range effort was fumbled by Norwich keeper Remi Matthews.
Johnson orchestrated the move which saw Villa take the lead four minutes before the break. His inch-perfect cross-field pass released Robinson on the left. Robinson cut in and whipped a cross towards Grealish who stretched to force it past the keeper from close range.
NextGen Series heroes Grealish and Robinson rekindled their exciting partnership from last season.
After the break, Grealish almost returned the favour for his team-mate. His pass inside found Robinson who showed great feet to control before firing over from just inside the box.
Less than 60 seconds later, Robinson had a shot deflected over from a similar position following a driving run.
Neither keeper was overly worked in the second half but Matthews did well to hold Johnson's drive after some mesmerising skill from Grealish to work his way inside from the byline and tee up his captain.
VILLA: Watkins, Lyden, Webb, Donacien, Toner, Cowans, Grealish, Stieber, Robinson, Johnson, Calder. Subs: Lewis, Grant, O'Brien, Wildin, Abdo [for Stieber, 69].
NORWICH: Matthews, McNeil, Toffolo, Hall-Johnson, Bassong, Gafaiti, Jacob Murphy, McGeehan, Morris, Loza, Joshua Murphy. Subs: Barker, Reading, McFadden, Wyatt [for Morris, 85], Norman.