Aston Villa began life without Christian Benteke with a stuttering 1-1 pre-season draw at local rivals Walsall on Saturday.
Benteke completed a move to Liverpool earlier in the week to add a further blow to Tim Sherwood’s Premier League preparations, after captain Fabian Delph joined Manchester City.
New signings Idrissa Gueye and Jordan Amavi were both handed starts, with the former fashioning Villa’s first chance – firing a deflected effort just wide on two minutes.
It was academy product Callum Robinson who drew first blood for the visitors after 22 minutes, producing a deft touch to control Libor Kozak’s cross and slot home from close range.
Gueye continued to impress for much of the first half, forcing a low save from goalkeeper Neil Etheridge just before the break.
Villa were unable to double their advantage despite dominating the first half and were punished for their profligacy just before the break as Anthony Forde’s deflected free-kick nestled into the bottom corner.
Kozak saw an appeal for a penalty waved away just before the hour, when he appeared to be held back by Walsall’s Andy Taylor.
An accomplished debut from Gueye came to an end when he was substituted and Villa were subsequently unable to find a winner on a frustrating afternoon at the Bescot Stadium.
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