Youngster Harvey Knibbs got the goal for Aston Villa, as the squad that travelled to Aggborough on Saturday drew 1-1 with Kidderminster Harriers.
The Villa XI at Kidderminster featured some new faces (Knibbs, Jack Clarke and Easah Suliman), some faces we hadn’t seen in a while (Mark Bunn, Tommy Elphick, Gary Gardner and Henri Lansbury), then some familiar faces (Neil Taylor, Alan Hutton, Albert Adomah and Jack Grealish).
And our line-up at @khfcofficial....— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) July 14, 2018
Bunn, N Taylor, Elphick, Suliman, Hutton, Gardner, Lansbury, Clarke, Adomah, Grealish, Knibbs.
Subs: Ramsey, Odutayo, Pressley, Patterson, Sinisalo, McConnachie, Cox, Walker, Vassilev, Brunt, Prosser.#AVFC #PartOfThePride pic.twitter.com/1vIsnNyc45
The Claret and Blues came out in a sort of a 4-3-3, with Gardner, Lansbury and Clarke the midfield trio, with Knibbs playing the middle of the forward line and Adomah on the right. Grealish was nominally the left winger for this contest, but he drifted all around the pitch. Hutton was back at his traditional right back slot.
After Villa had a couple early chances, Kidderminster took the lead off a scrappy free kick in the 9th minute — Villa couldn’t clear and they were punished for it.
Colin Calderwood’s side was only behind for a couple minutes, though, as Villa got free on the break: Grealish was flanked by Knibbs to the left and Adomah to the right with just one Kidderminster defender back. Grealish carried the ball into the box, drew the commitment of the defender, then unselfishly laid off for Knibbs, who fired home.
Grealish and Adomah each looked lively as one would expect, but it was Knibbs who impressed in this preliminary run-out of pre-season. Gardner, returning from loan yet again, looked comfortable in midfield, as Villa were generally the better side.
The pace dropped off in the second half, though, as Calderwood waited until the 66th minute to start introducing the substitutes, mostly U18 players. I, for one, was incredibly happy to see Indiana Vassilev come on, who is both a young American forward and shares a name with my home state.
All in all, considering that Grealish is likely to leave and Adomah may follow him, this was a fine run-out for a group of players that likely aren’t key cogs in the Villa squad this season. We’ll see how many of these guys see action the remainder of preseason.