By Dan Harrison
Villa's youngsters stepped up their preparations for the new campaign with an impressive third-place finish in the Fitland Talent Cup.
The boys in claret and blue comfortably topped their group in the U19 tournament held at Dutch club Fortuna Sittard.
But an agonising penalty shootout defeat to the host club followed in the semi-finals.
It meant Villa rounded off the weekend with a third place play-off game against Sweden's IFK Goteborg and they emerged from the clash with a 1-0 victory.
The tournament began with a 2-1 win over eventual winners Racing Club Genk of Belgium.
Daniel Devine got Villa off to a dream start with a goal after four minutes before Michael Drennan doubled the advantage three minutes later.
Axed Mupandu pulled one back for Genk after the break but the Young Lions' victory was more comfortable than the scoreline suggested.
In game two, Villa crushed Japan's Yasu Football Academy 6-1.
Josh Barton opened the scoring before Drennan was on target again with his second goal of the weekend.
Yasu pulled one back through Yadu Tamaki but Graham Burke converted a penalty to make it 3-1.
The scoring was rounded off by Jordan Graham, Thomas Zazrivec and Burke.
Winger Graham found the target again in the third match against Aachen, adding to Umit Eminoglu's strike in a 2-0 claret and blue triumph.
Villa's 100 per cent record came to an end in the semi-finals against Fortuna Sittard, who advanced to the final with a 5-4 penalty shootout victory following a goalless draw.
Jack Grealish scored the only goal of the game against Goteborg to earn Villa third spot.
Academy manager Bryan Jones said: "It was a very good pre-season exercise for us.
"To lose the semi-final on penalties was disappointing.
"We had one shot in that game from Jack Grealish that hit both posts, came back out and struck Michael Drennan before going wide.
"We also had another one that was cleared off the line so we were very unlucky.
"In pre-season it is mainly about fitness but for a pre-season tournament the standard of our play was excellent."
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