Aston Villa managed just 43.8% of possession over the 90 minutes compared to Bolton Wanderers 56.2%. As many fans at the game said that it felt the completely other-way round in terms of possession.
I have noticed over recent months that Aston Villa’s ball retention and ability to find each other is one of their many downfalls this season. Aston Villa managed just 57% pass success rate compared to Bolton’s 69%.
Aston Villa took the lead on the hour mark through Stephen Warnock who found himself playing in central midfield. This has been a familiar feature this season – players having to play in positions they don’t regularly play within.
Bolton Wanderers replied instantly and drew level after the restart as Carlos Cuellar brought down Mark Davies in the penalty area and Bolton were awarded a penalty. Martin Petrov stepped up to take the penalty which was placed in the right-side corner of Shay Given’s net.
The mood around Villa Park began to change as Bolton drew level but less than a minute later Bolton had put themselves 2-1 ahead through David N’Gog. Chris Eagles neat, quick feet allowed the ball find its way to N’Gog who was near the penalty spot, he scored and sent the travelling Bolton supporters into raptures.
All three goals were scored within a space of 101 seconds and left Aston Villa shell-shocked as they had dominated possession in the first half and created the better chances. In the post match conference Owen Coyle confirmed that he wasn’t happy with his team first-half performance. Bolton Wanderers players came out first with Coyle’s words still reverberating in their heads.
Aston Villa’s formation was yet a different one for the previous game against Sunderland, where they went 4-4-2, but last night it was 4-3-3. James Collins missed the fixture after the knock he received on Saturday. Stephen Ireland was missing from the 18 man squad due to obtaining a Grade 1 hamstring injury but Villa hope Ireland is able to feature in the West Midland’s derby against West Bromwich Albion.
Aston Villa started the brighter of the two sides and had their first clear chance with Charles N’Zogbia using his pace and dribbling to cross for Chris Herd who headed just over in the opening minute.
Aston Villa enjoyed the best of the chances in the first half with Stephen Warnock unleashing a thunderous left-foot shot from 25 yards which left the crossbar shaking. Emile Heskey was having a good game having 2 shots on target when he side-stepped a Bolton defender and hit the shot straight at Adam Bogdam. Before this chance Heskey managed to hook his right boot around the ball with his back to goal but Bogdam was equal enough to make the shot.
Just before the half-time interval Villa’s Charles N’Zogbia had a free-kick from about 25 yards narrowly go wide of the Bogdan’s goal frame, rippling the side netting.
Newly appointed Villa Captain Gabby Agbonlahor who was substituted in Saturdays game was left on the bench but was called into action midway into the second half. Gabby had a fitness test earlier in the day and was deemed okay to play but Villa didn’t want to aggravate Gabby’s niggle.
Emile Heskey was seen a target man for Villa and Bolton needed to be physical against Heskey and Villa were forced to take Emile off the field and try a different approach.
Emile Heskey and Andreas Weimann had worked well with Emile winning the aerial balls which were angled towards him also flicking the ball on for the speed Austrian to run onto.
Bolton played a high defensive line and caught Aston Villa offside on 6 occasions.
Bolton Wanderers didn’t sit back on their 2-1 and went in search for a third. Aston Villa fans’ frustration overflowed and with 5 minutes of the 90 minutes remaining the fans turned on Alex McLeish with chants aimed at his “F++k Off McLeish, the Villa is Ours” and at full-time there was a resounding echo of boo’s.
Alex McLeish clearly heard these and was escorted from the dugout to the dressing room as emotions were running high.
After the full-time whistle Aston Villa fans took to social media sites venting their anger to the ex-Birmingham City manager calling for him to resign or be sacked.
Villa’s American owner Randy Lerner was quick to show support for Alex McLeish as it was reported Randy Lerner was at the game along with his right-hand man Paul Faulkner.
If stories are to be believed that Randy Lerner has given McLeish a vote of confidence, as many managers know “oh so well” this is the curtain closer for the managerial reins at clubs.
Local media were speculating about the future of Alex McLeish as the odds of Villa to be relegated were shortened along with Alex McLeish’s time span at Villa to be ended shortly.
Before kickoff Aston Villa knew that after gaining a point against Sunderland on Saturday – the 3 points were a must and would ease the pressure in the next coming weeks. Bolton Wanderers themselves came sitting in 19th place and very much in the thick of the relegation battle.
Aston Villa now just find themselves just 3 points above the relegation zone with a sense of uncertainty with trips away to WBA and Norwich City.
In between the away fixtures Aston Villa host Tottenham Hotspur in the final home game for the Midlands based team.