Stoke picked up a smash-and-grab win against Aston Villa in Villa’s second pre-season friendly.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa travelled to the Bet 365 stadium this afternoon to face off against Stoke City, in the sides second pre-season friendly of the off-season.
Early on, Aston Villa found themselves trailing in the friendly, with Steven Fletcher heading the home side ahead within three minutes. He met a long ball at the edge of the box, spotted that Steer was coming off his line, and headed over the Aston Villa goalkeeper.
Ten minutes later, and Ashley Young came close with a free-kick, curling his effort just wide of the Stoke City goal.
Anwar El Ghazi had an opportunity as the ball fell to him after a mistake at the Potters’ back post, but his shot was tipped onto the post.
Aston Villa were dominant on the ball and looked the stronger side, but that didn’t stop Stoke City from countering when the opportunity arose. Buendia also managed a shot from close range, but his attempt was saved by Bursik.
It wasn’t a poor performance in the first half, but Aston Villa would need to be much better in the second if they were to leave Stoke happy.
The second half didn’t start the way that fans would have wanted. Despite Aston Villa dominating the opening three minutes, their chances were poor, and a failed counter-attack allowed Stoke’s new signing Mario Vrancic time and space to open his body and curl an effort to the top right – beating Jed Steer’s dive as the ball nestled into the back of the net.
Aston Villa almost gifted Stoke City a third in the 54th, as sloppy passing at the back allowed a handful of chances for the home side.
The 60th minute saw Craig Shakespeare’s side (with Dean Smith still isolating), make eleven changes. Sinisalo, Frederic Guilbert, Ezri Konsa, Seb Revan, Matt Target, Jaden Philogene-Bidace, Conor Hourihane, Jacob Ramsey, Carney Chukwuemeka, Keinan Davis and Wesley all made their way onto the pitch.
Fans waited with baited breath as Wesley looked to have picked up a knock in the 62nd minute, defending a corner in his own box, but the forward was able to continue. Five minutes later, and the Brazilian forward was sent off after an altercation with Nick Powell, where the striker moved his head towards the Stoke midfielder, before retaliating again and going for the throat of Powell.
James Chester joined the game as a substitute for the home side in the 70th minute, and the Aston Villa fans sounded their appreciation for the centreback, singing “there’s only one James Chester”.
Sinisalo saved well down to his left post in the 75th to deny Danny Batth from netting a Stoke third, shepherding the ball out for a Potters’ corner.
Stoke’s keeper produced an equally strong save five minutes from time to deny Keinan Davis, who rose the highest to meet a ball into the box.
Not a great result for Aston Villa, but more minutes in the legs for a number of players.