Stephen Warnock put the Villans ahead, after fantastic work from Charles N’Zogbia. But the goal sparked a Bolton extravaganza, with Petrov hammering a penalty past Shay Given and David Ngog hitting a priceless winner barely a minute later.
Having failed to hit the back of the net since August, Emile Heskey stepped in for the benched Gabriel Agbonlahor, who is believed to be nursing a shoulder injury. Chris Herd was preferred to Barry Bannan in midfield and youngster Andreas Weimann retained his starting position in attack.
Owen Coyle made one change from the team that drew 1-1 with Swansea City last time out, with Ngog starting upfront in place of Kevin Davies. Ryo Miyaichi kept his place in the team after an impressive run of form, with Nigel Reo-Coker playing against his former club.
Villa made an electric start to the match, with Chris Herd heading skimming the bar from an early corner, followed by Heskey blazing high and wide after a poor Bolton clearance.
But the big English striker soon began to find his feet and provide some spectacular link-up play with Weimann.
And the England international continued to impress, but lacked a clinical touch when firing straight at Bogan twice.
As Bolton started to work their way into the game with some neat passing play involving Chris Eagles and Mark Davies, standing ovations broke out for Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba following his recovery from a cardiac arrest, and then for Villain Stiliyan Petrov, who is battling acute leukaemia.
But Villa soon found their feet again, with Warnock smashing the crossbar from a full 25-yards out, with Bogdan rooted. Before N’Zogbia hit the side netting from a 30-yard free kick.
The half-time break seemed to invigorate Bolton, who quickly found their feet at the start of the second period, with Kevin Davies looping a header back across goal following an Eagles freekick. Ngog was inches away from tapping home.
Eagles continued to drag Bolton through the game, as the midfielder attempted an audacious 40-yard freekick, which Given had to do well to save.
However, despite looking under the kock, Villa took the lead on the hour mark. N’Zogbia dribbled past Steinsson and unleashed a low cross towards the on-rushing Warnock, who buried a powerful shot past Bogdan.
Bolton’s response was instant. Carlos Cuellar was adjudged to have brought down Mark Davies in the box and Martin Petrov stepped up to smash the resulting penalty past Given
And if their goal didn’t come quickly enough, Bolton took the lead straight afterwards. Eagles ghosted into the penalty area, and showed incredible composure to pick out the open Ngog, who could not miss.
A stunned Villa tried to fight their way back into the game, enjoying some more possession high up the pitch, with Cuellar inexplicably choosing to head the ball goalwards from 15 yards when the Spaniard had the time to pick a volley.
And Bolton started to feel the pressure, as N’Zogbia led the charge with some mazy dribbles on each flank, following a succession of dangerous corners.
The Villa supporters erupted in unison after Weimann played the ball onto a Bolton arm inside the area but referee Chris Foy quickly moved to quash any appeals, with the final whistle ringing out soon after.
The result leaves Bolton only three points behind Villa, who have played one game more.
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