Marc Albrighton and Stiliyan Petrov produced the vital goals to deliver Villa’s first away win of the season, but Ivan Klasnic was able to prevent Brad Guzan earning a clean sheet on his first Premiership start.
It was a much improved performance during the first half, and fans crying out for a 4-4-2 system will be quick to point out that was the case today with Marc Albrighton on the right and Charles N’Zogbia on the left. However, it has to be said that Bolton looked entirely worthy of the 19th place they held in the league coming into this one.
Still, by the break, with scoreline reading 2-0, it had been a very even encounter statistically, we had just done a much better job of carving out chances whilst Bolton struggled to do much of anything in the final third. In truth, we could, and probably should, have been another goal or two ahead.
The opening goal was superb. Following a brief spell of possession, Chris Herd found Gabby in space on the left and though his square ball was just behind Darren Bent, Marc Albrighton had got himself in position to fire in from close range.
Stiliyan Petrov chalked up his third of the season with another shot from distance, this time taking a slight nick off of Gary Cahill on the way in. As they say, they all count.
Bolton looked much brighter after the break and you might say that the goal, as typical as it was for us to concede, was coming. Zat Knight attempted to stroke in from a corner only for the ball to disappear into the crowded box. Lines were not cleared, Klasnic pounced to stab past the helpless Guzan.
A typically nervy last half hour then. Bolton pushed for an equaliser, but always looked vulnerable on the counter. In truth, both sides created chances they should have done better with, but neither side were able to alter the scoreline.
So, a much needed win, the first away from Villa Park this season, and obvious positives can be extracted. That said, Bolton looked truly awful during much of the first half and we were gifted a number of chances that we should have buried. Other teams, notably the ones coming up, will not be so generous.
Nevertheless, it’s three points in the bag, a rare experience this season, so let’s just soak it up and enjoy it for now. If it’s belief and confidence that we really need, I hope everyone involved extracts what they need from this and takes it into the remaining games of the year.
Key Events Timeline
90′ Gabby Agbonlahor.
81′ Darren Bent off, Emile Heskey on.
79′ Ivan Klasnic off, David Ngog on.
71′ Tuncay off, Gael Kakuta on.
55′ Ivan Klasnic. Zat Knight’s scuffed shot from a corner went into a crowd, pinged around, lines not clear, Klasnic stabbed in from close range.
39′ Stiliyan Petrov.
33′ Marc Albrighton. Ball moved to the left where Gabby had drifted wide, his cut back behind Bent, who got a steadying touch on it, before Marc Albrighton banged it in.
27′ Mark Davies.
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Boyata, Cahill, Knight, Robinson, Tuncay, M Davies, Pratley, Eagles, K Davies, Klasnic. Subs: Bogdan, Steinsson, Muamba, Petrov, Kakuta, O’Halloran, Ngog.
Aston Villa: Guzan, Hutton, Collins, Dunne, Warnock, Albrighton, Herd, Petrov, N’Zogbia, Agbonlahor, Bent. Subs: Marshall, Clark, Ireland, Bannan, Delfouneso, Weimann, Heskey.