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Report: Villa U21 0-0 Newcastle U21

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Report: Villa U21 0-0 Newcastle U21

Our youngsters had to settle for a share of the spoils after a well-fought draw with Newcastle at Walsall's Banks's Stadium.

Villa made seven changes to the side which saw off Arsenal at Boreham Wood prior to the festive break.

Attacker Keinan Davies, signed from Biggleswade Town, made his first start while Jose Angel Crespo recorded another useful 90 minutes.

Davies partnered Jerell Sellars up front and put experienced stopper Freddie Woodman under pressure.

The Toon fielded a strong side in the reverse fixture at St James' Park but Peter Beardsley brought a much younger side to the West Midlands and they passed the ball around with precision.

Matija Sarkic was called into action on 12 minutes - saving confidently from Lewis McNail's effort on the turn.

There was another let off for Villa as Liam Smith unleashed a fierce free-kick from the edge of the area - it crashed off Sarkic's post.

That said, the claret and blues were equally on the front foot early on - winning a host of corners.

On 20 minutes, a neat little triangle move ended with Sellars' shot which trickled into the arms of Woodman.

The ever-involved Sellars then fired wide from a free-kick as the home side increased the tempo.

Moments later, newcomer Davies showed good strength down the left flank and his effort was pushed around the post.

Both sides could have gone in ahead at the break.

Captain Lewis Kinsella was desperately unlucky when his fine run and ball in was scrambled clear - it rebounded back to him and the follow-up hit the crossbar.

While for Newcastle, Callum Roberts found space down the right and his shot was gathered by Sarkic.

Villa carved the first chance of the second half as Sellars tried his luck from an acute angle - Woodman was able to gather.

On the hour, centre-back Kevin Toner broke forward from the back, fed Hale whose low attempt was just wide.

A host of substitutions for both teams disrupted the flow of the game but Villa finished the game on the front foot.

Midfielder Rory Hale had a hat-trick of chances the first edged wide, the second saved and the third expertly tipped over the bar.

He then came close 10 minutes from the final whistle - his looping header from Josh Webb's cross gathered.

Meanwhile substitute Jack Clarke almost made an immediate impact and saw his effort cleared off the line.

The hosts had to be wary of the counter-attack though and only alert defending from Kinsella denied the visitors a smash-and-grab winner.

Hale then unleashed a power-driver from long-range which was tipped over the bar by the experienced Woodman.

Villa felt they could have been awarded a penalty when Easah Suliman's cross appeared to be handled by Newcastle skipper Lubomir Satka.

Villa U21: Sarkic, Webb, Crespo, Toner, Kinsella (C), Hale, Cowans, Mason (Suliman 69), Davies (Clarke 75), Sellars, Cox (Green 60). Unused subs: Bannister, Swift.

Newcastle U21: Woodman, Cobain, Gibson, Barlaser, Williams, Satka (C), Gallacher (C. Smith 57), Smith, McNail (Broccoli 76), Longstaff (Hoare 62), Roberts. Unused subs: Trodd, Pearson.

By @AVFCOfficial 11th January 2016