A lack attacking initiative and scrappy defending leaves the hosts missing out on three points again at the Reebok Stadium, as the Villans take all the spoils
Villa took advantage of nervous defending from the Trotters and went ahead with a tap in from Marc Albrighton, before doubling their lead a few moments later through a long-range effort from Stilian Petrov.
Bolton came out after the break brighter and soon found themselves with a goal and way back into the game through a close range Ivan Klasnic effort. However, their confidence soon faded and Villa held on for the win.
The hosts made a handful of changes, with Fabrice Muamba dropped to the bench after featuring in last week’s 3-0 loss to Tottenham, whilst Nigel Reo-Coker failed to find a place in the squad at all. Meanwhile, Tuncay was handed a starting XI spot, with Martin Petrov amongst the substitutes.
Villa were forced to replace injured ‘keeper Shay Given with Bradley Guzan, whilst the only change outfield came due to injury, as Stilian Petrov came in for the sidelined Jermaine Jenas.
A nervous start for the Bolton defence almost allowed Gabriel Agbonlahor through one-on-one with Jussi Jaaskelainen, after long ball wasn't dealt with by the Trotters back-line. A brave Paul Robinson however stepped in to make a great tackle and clear the early danger.
The hosts were given a chance of their own after a mix of good movement and accurate passing set up Chris Eagles out on the left of the Villa area, with the winger shooting on sight, but a lack of power and placement made for an easy save from Guzman.
Petrov should have put the visitors in front with less than 20 minutes gone, the Bulgarian receiving a low ball at his feet, but somehow managed to shoot wide from the penalty spot.
A great save from Jaaskelainen spared Bolton’s blushes further, with Darren Bent wasting a great opportunity to make up for his team-mate’s miss just moments before, but the Trotters ‘keeper made an impressive block with his legs to deny the England international.
Villa then came under pressure, as a low, hard free-kick from Eagles managed to avoid the Villains defensive wall and forced Guzan to make the save, with the visitors clearing after the American fumbled the ball as Bolton looked to connect with the loose ball.
Victorious Villans | McLeish's men recorded their first away win of the season
Owen Coyle’s defence finally paid the price for their slack display, as a ball into the area failed to be cleared, leaving Albrighton to put the visitors ahead from close range past a helpless Jaaskelainen.
Just moments later, Bolton's misery was compounded as Petrov doubled Villa’s lead following a long-range effort from 20 yards that deflected enough off of Gary Cahill to evade Jaaskelainen and find its way into the corner of the goal.
At the other end, Kevin Davies nearly clawed one back with a header saved instinctively by Guzan at the far post following a corner, the goalkeeper doing well to ensure his side went into the break with their two goal advantage intact.
Bolton were the brightest after the restart, and Villa were hard pushed to get the ball out of their area for the opening five minutes of the half.
The Trotters’ work finally paid off a few minutes late as Klasnic converted a scrappy goal, following up from Darren Pratley’s initial blocked shot, before controlling with his body and pushing the ball into the net with his outstretched foot.
However, Villa began to dominate again and should have made it three when Bent put a great opportunity wide under no pressure. Albrighton had a good chance for his second of the afternoon, but Jaaskelainen stopped his attempt well.
The visitors held on and kept their place in the top-half of the table with their first away win of the campaign.
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