Stoke 2 Aston Villa 0 - Report

Villa saw Wesley sent-off for violent conduct as they fell to a 2-0 pre-season defeat at Stoke.

Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins battles with Stoke City's Ben Wilmot during the pre-season friendly match at the bet365 Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent. Picture date: Saturday July 24, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Stoke. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. ..RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications..
Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins battles with Stoke City's Ben Wilmot during the pre-season friendly match at the bet365 Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent. Picture date: Saturday July 24, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Stoke. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. ..RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications..

The £21million striker was shown a straight red card for lashing out at Nick Powell just seven minutes after coming off the bench.

Wesley first appeared to head-butt the Stoke forward before attempting to grab him round the throat and then throwing a punch.

Powell had earlier set-up former Wolves striker Steven Fletcher to open the scoring in the third minute, with Mario Vrancic then getting the home side’s second just after the break.

But it was the reckless actions of Wesley, seemingly unprovoked, which then became the talking point.

The 24-year-old is facing a big season looking to prove himself again after spending nearly 16 months out with a serious injury.

Needless to say, this was an afternoon which did him few favours. Villa boss Dean Smith, watching from home again as he continues to isolate with his family, will not have been impressed.

With Craig Shakespeare once more taking charge, Villa’s starting XI featured two teenagers in Aaron Ramsey and Lamar Bogarde.

The latter, playing alongside Kortney Hause in the heart of the defence, will feel he might have done better for Stoke’s third minute opener.

That said, Powell’s cross from deep on the right was almost inch perfect and Fletcher, who had escaped the attentions of the 17-year-old Bogarde, was similarly precise in planting his header over Jed Steer and into the top corner.

At the other end Ashley Young got his aim slightly wrong when he sent a free-kick inches wide of the post with Joe Bursik a spectator.

With Villa finding their rhythm, the Stoke goalkeeper then got himself out of jail when, after dawdling and allowing his clearance to be charged down by Ollie Watkins, he pushed Anwar El Ghazi’s shot on to the post.

El Ghazi was then unable to execute an ambitious flying volley before Buendia was denied by Bursik, the keeper saving a toe-poked attempt with his legs after neat build-up play from the visitors.

Stoke had enjoyed spells of pressure without testing Steer but four minutes into the second half it was they who got the next goal.

Vrancic picked the ball up just inside the Villa half and advanced to the edge of the box before thumping a fierce shot into the top corner.

Villa changed their entire XI on the hour mark but Wesley’s afternoon would last barely seven minutes before he was given his marching orders.

In scenes more common to an MMA ring than a football pitch, the striker struck out at Powell - at one time appearing to grab the Stoke man round the throat - leaving referee Leigh Doughty little choice but to show the Brazilian a straight red card. Powell was also booked for his part in the melee.

Keinan Davis, another Villa substitute, almost salvaged something for the visitors but saw his late header saved by Bursik.

Villa: Steer (Sinisalo 60), Cash (Guilbert (60), Bogarde (Konsa 60), Hause (Revan S 60), Young (Targett 60), McGinn © (Hourihane 60), Nakamba (Ramsey J 60), Buendia (Philogene-Bidace 60), Ramsey A (Chukwuemeka 60), El Ghazi (Davis (60), Watkins (Wesley 60) Subs not used: Chrisene, Marschall (gk).

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