By Dan Harrison
Villa's young guns slipped to a defeat against a strong Manchester City outfit in this Barclays Premier Reserve League opener.
Alex Tchuimeni-Nimley and Abdisalam Ibrahim bagged the goals that earned City all three points at Hyde United's Ewen Fields.
It was tough going for the youthful claret and blues outfit, who were under the stewardship of European Cup legend Gordon Cowans for the first time.
Skipper Ciaran Clark returned to reserve team duties to lead Villa in what was their first fixture in the revamped competition.
The likes of Shane Lowry and Eric Lichaj were complemented by a number of academy stars including Daniel Johnson, Samir Carruthers and Graham Burke.
The youngsters put up a terrific fight throughout the contest, with Carruthers looking particularly menacing on the right hand side of midfield.
But, overall, City controlled possession and were eventually able to capitalise.
Nimley fired City into the lead on 30 minutes, after racing on to Donal McDermott's well-timed pass and slotting across Elliot Parish.
Up until the deadlock-breaker, the young Villa side had competed admirably with the Sky Blues.
Lichaj converted a teasing low right-wing cross from Carruthers, but the linesman flagged for offside.
The lively Carruthers was at the heart of the away team's other best move.
He skilfully controlled Lowry's cross-field pass and aimed his cross to the back. James Collins Jr arrived perfectly but shot narrowly wide.
From there on, City piled pressure on Villa. Kelvin Etuhu forcing Parish into a fine one-handed save before hitting a powerful 30-yard effort which the goalkeeper was equal to.
Villa began the second-half positively, looking confident in possession without really testing City goalkeeper David Gonzalez.
However, City regained the initiative with two key moments in as many minutes.
On 75 minutes, Nathan Baker was given his marching orders after being shown a second booking for a late tackle on Ben Mee.
And it took the home team less than 60 seconds to capitalise on the numerical advantage.
Ibrahim collected on the edge of the box and fired a bullet low drive past Parish to make it 2-0.
Parish, who was outstanding in goal for Villa, still had time to make two more terrific saves to keep out powerful attempts from Poole and Scott Kay.
MAN CITY: Gonzalez, Logan, Chantler, Ibrahim, Vidal, Mee, Etuhu, Kay, Nimley, Poole, McDermott. Subs: Elabdellaoui (for McDermott, 62), Karius, Veseli, Wabara, Benali (for Nimley, 33).
VILLA: Parish, Berry, Lowry, Clark, Baker, Lichaj, Carruthers, Hogg, Collins Jr, Burke, Johnson. Subs: Cameron (for Lichaj, 17), Siegrist, Devine, Taylor (for Burke, 74), Williams (for Cameron, 80).