Aston Villa vs. Bolton Wanderers  1 - 2


Premier League: Aston Villa 1 Bolton 2

24 April 2012 23:10

Bolton took a giant step towards maintaining their Premier League status with a 2-1 win against a spirited Aston Villa side at Villa Park.

Manager Alex McLeish will regret his side's first-half dominance after Emile Heskey and Stephen Warnock spurned chances to take the lead.

Warnock did eventually put Villa ahead, after fantastic work from Charles N'Zogbia. But the goal sparked a Bolton extravaganza, with Martin Petrov hammering a penalty past Shay Given and David Ngog hitting a priceless winner barely a minute later.

Villa made an electric start to the match, with Chris Herd heading just over the bar from a fifth-minute 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 young hotshot Andreas Weimann, with the 20-year-old unable to reach a Heskey flick-on before Adam Bogdan .

And the England international continued to impress, firing on the turn straight at Bogdan and swivelling on the edge of the box to fire a low powerful shot gratefully into the goalkeeper's arms.

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 Villa's Stiliyan Petrov, who is battling acute leukaemia.

But Villa soon found their feet again, with Heskey again at the centre of everything, glancing a header narrowly over following neat footwork down the left from N'Zogbia.

McLeish's side narrowly missed out on taking the lead, after a cutback from Scotland international Alan Hutton led to Warnock smashing the crossbar from 25 yards out.

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 free kick, and Ngog was inches away from tapping home.

And former Burnley man Eagles continued to represent Bolton's greatest creator, as the midfielder attempted an audacious 40-yard free kick, which Given had to do well to save.

Villa continued to look uncomfortable, with Eagles pulling all the strings in midfield and looking to play in N'Zogbia, but the Republic of Ireland goalkeeper was equal to it.

Shortly after, Villa took the lead against the run of play. N'Zogbia dribbled past his defender down the right and unleashed a low cross towards the on-rushing Warnock, who buried a powerful shot past Bogdan on 61 minutes.

Bolton's response was instant. Carlos Cuellar was adjudged to have brought down Mark Davies in the box and Petrov stepped up to smash the resulting penalty past Shay Given.

And if their goal did not 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 and the Frenchman tapped home .

A stunned Villa fought 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 of a Villa comeback, as N'Zogbia led the charge with some mazy dribbles on each flank, following a succession of dangerous corners.

The Villa supporters erupted when they felt their team should have been awarded a penalty kick, after Weimann played the ball onto a Bolton arm but referee Chris Foy quickly moved to quash any claims.

And the Villa fans' anxiety was not rewarded by late Barry Bannan efforts as the final whistle blew to represent a very spirited second-half performance from Owen Coyle's side.

The result leaves Bolton only three points behind Villa on the Premier League table, but with a game in hand.


Premier League preview: Aston Villa v Bolton

23 April 2012 18:45

Bolton Wanderers midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker wants to take advantage of Aston Villa's precarious position when the teams meet on Tuesday.

Away side Bolton go into the mid-week fixture second from bottom in the English Premier League, four points off Wigan Athletic and the safety of 17th place.

Their next opponents, Villa, are just five points clear of the drop zone, and without a win from their last six matches in the league.

Bolton can also boast a game in hand over Alex McLeish's side, and they will hope to close the gap on the teams above them with victory at Villa Park.

"There are good games ahead of us from which we can get results and now it's all about our belief," Reo-Coker said following his team's 1-1 draw at home to Swansea on Saturday.

"We've got five cup finals ahead of us - it isn't just Tuesday's game. We have to go out and show how much it means.

"It's still so tight - there are three teams currently in the drop zone and there are three teams sitting just above it who could be dragged in.

"That just shows how competitive it is, so we have to compete. Villa might be on edge with where they are in the league but we have to take advantage of that."

Villa managed a credible 0-0 draw at home to Sunderland in their last fixture, the third draw in the last four outings for McLeish's men.

With key striker Darren Bent out of action since February, scoring has become a major issue for Villa, who have struck just eight goals in the last 11 matches.

And Villa have not scored more than two goals in a single game since their 3-2 win over Wolves on January 21.

Bolton manager Owen Coyle has no new injury worries to contend with, but he continues to miss long-term absentees Stuart Holden, Chung-Yong Lee, Ricardo Gardner and Fabrice Muamba.

As for Villa, defenders James Collins (groin), Stephen Warnock (ankle) and Ciaran Clark (head injury) are in doubt, while centre-back Richard Dunne is out with a shoulder problem.

Further forward, striker Gabriel Agbonlahor is in doubt with a shoulder issue of his own.

Villa-youth product Agbonlahor is acting as stand-in club captain following Stiliyan Petrov's diagnosis with acute leukemia last month.

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +64 89
2 38 +56 89
3 38 +25 70
4 38 +25 69
5 38 +5 65
6 38 +19 64
7 38 +10 56
8 38 +7 52
9 38 -3 52
10 38 -7 47
11 38 -7 47
12 38 -14 47
13 38 -1 45
14 38 -17 45
15 38 -20 43
16 38 -16 38
17 38 -23 37
18 38 -31 36
19 38 -30 31
20 38 -42 25