In their first game for over a month our U23s earned a creditable draw at Walsall’s Banks’s Stadium tonight.
A highly-entertaining affair, one which Paul Stephenson’s side will feel they could and maybe should have won.
Boro took the game to Villa from the start, keen to make an impression and test goalkeeper Vilijami Sinisalo.
Such was the pace of the start, Boro created three good chances in the opening three minutes, but had to wait until the quarter-hour mark before deservedly taking the lead.
There was a welcome return to action for Mitch Curry, playing for the first time this season after suffering a frustrating time through injury. It was he who was brought down to win a penalty that was converted by Amadou Sylla.
Sinisalo, the young Finn, just 17, was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers as an energetic Boro went for more, though the home side were certainly no back number and went close through Tyreik Wright.
Both sides went for it in the second half and the home side drew level with 16 minutes remaining when catching Boro on the break, half-time substitute Cameron Archer rounding off a pacey run with a well-struck finish to record his first goal at this level.
Villa Sinisalo, Suliman, Bazeley, Walker (Burton 67), Clarke, Prosser, Rowe, Brunt (Archer 46), Vassilev, Wright, Knibbs. Subs Lomax (gk), Revan, Birch.
Boro James, D Spence, Mahmutovic, Dale, Reading, Malley, Ward, Sylla, Brahimi (Hackney 85), Curry, O’Neill. Subs Brynn (gk), Balde, Hood, Sykes.
Referee Martin Woods
Villa Burton 86, foul
Boro Dale 70, foul; Malley 90+6, foul