Rémi Garde's side took a trip to Stoke City, and unceremoniously suffered another defeat. It was a dull first half, but early in the second period mistakes sealed Villa's fate as two goals were needlessly conceded through defensive errors. Leandro Bacuna's late goal proved to be too little, too late.
Nine minutes in Mark Bunn was called into action, making a fine fingertip save after an awkward deflection off the foot of Jores Okore almost resulted in Villa going behind via an own goal.
Stoke had the majority of opportunities in the first half, but good defending kept it scoreless heading into the break. Just two minutes from halftime, Alan Hutton was booked for wasting time, joining Idrissa Gana who clumsily ran into a Stoke player to pick up a yellow earlier on.
Just five minutes after the second half got underway, Ashley Westwood clumsily fouled Stoke right back Phil Bardsley, giving away a penalty. Marko Arnautović buried it, and Stoke took a 1-0 lead.
Five minutes later, Stoke found a second. The Villa defence crumbled upon a cross being lofted in towards back the post, and Mark Bunn became trapped in his net. Despite the ball being initially headed up into the air, Bunn was four feet behind the goal line and Arnautović doubled his money with a tap-in header from less than a yard away.
Shortly after, Scott Sinclair replaced Carles Gil. Villa's second substitution was Rudy Gestede coming on for Jordan Veretout. Gestede played a part in the match's third goal. It looked like the ball came off his hand when it was played into the box, at which point it fell to Leandro Bacuna. The much-maligned Dutchman came through with a composed finish, cutting the deficit to 201 with 11 minutes left.
While it would have been nice for Garde to use some of the younger players that were on the bench, it's somewhat relieving to see that his substitutions were effective. After going down by two goals, the team looked like they were going to crumble and ship six again, but the ship was steadied and embarrassment was avoided.
Next up for Villa is a home meeting with Everton on Tuesday afternoon.
AVFC: Bunn, Hutton, Okore, Lescott, Cissokho, Westwood, Gana, Veretout (Gestede 77'), Gil (Sinclair 58'), Bacuna, Agbonlahor.
Goals: Bacuna (79').
SCFC: Butland, Bardsley, Cameron, Wollscheid, Pieters, Whelan, Imbula, Shaqiri, Afellay (Bojan 71'), Arnautović (Diouf 89'), Walters (Joselu 71').
Goals: Arnautović (51' p, 56').
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