By Dan Harrison
Villa kicked off the new Barclays U18 Premier League campaign with a defeat at Stoke City.
The boys in claret and blue can count themselves unlucky to have lost the game after an impressive showing at Stoke's Clayton Wood training ground.
Tony McAndrew's team took the lead in the first-half through England U17 winger Jordan Graham but were hit by a quick-fire double after the break.
Villa made a promising start with schoolboy Daniel Crowley hitting a decent long-range effort which deflected behind for a corner.
The away team's pressure finally paid off 10 minutes before the break when Graham beat the offside trap to latch on to Umit Eminoglu's through ball and finish spectacularly into the top corner.
But Stoke regrouped after the break and two goals in two minutes left Villa stunned.
Derice Richards was on hand to convert a rebound after an initial header from Ryan Shields came back off the bar.
Then Ryan O'Reilly powered home a header after meeting Jack Nardiello's cross to give the home side the lead.
Villa rallied in the closing stages and came close to equalising through Crowley.
The skilful forward cut in from the left and went for goal but his effort was brilliantly tipped away by the goalkeeper.
Villa are back in action next Saturday when they face Southampton at Bodymoor Heath.
VILLA: Watkins, Williams, Bateman, Stevenson, Calder, O'Brien, Melvin, Ward, Graham, Crowley, Eminoglu. Subs: Wildin [for Calder 74], Hill, Strain [for O'Brien 67], Nelson [for Eminoglu 78], Hepburn-Murphy.