Aston Villa 1 Bolton 2: Psychovilla! Old pal Coyle piles pressure on McLeish
20:59 GMT, 24 April 2012
Two goals in as many minutes silenced Villa Park as Owen Coyle dragged his one-time mentor Alex McLeish into the relegation mix.
Bolton’s boss, who played for the Villa manager at Motherwell, jumped for joy following 120 seconds’ of high-octane action in which the Trotters grabbed this good old-fashioned six-pointer by the scruff of the neck.
With Stephen Warnock sliding in a 61st minute goal, it appeared that the nerves of an increasingly-jittery Villa Park had been settled.
Believe: The Bolton players celebrate David Ngog's goal
Aston Villa: Given, Hutton, Cuellar, Baker, Lichaj, Albrighton (Bannan 77), Herd (Delfouneso 88), Warnock, N'Zogbia, Heskey (Agbonlahor 70), Weimann.
Subs Not Used: Guzan, Clark, Gardner, Carruthers.
Goals: Warnock 61.
Bolton: Bogdan, Steinsson, Ream, Wheater, Ricketts, Miyaichi (Kevin Davies 46), Reo-Coker, Mark Davies, Petrov, Eagles (Alonso 86), Ngog (Klasnic 72).
Subs Not Used: Jaaskelainen, Knight, Sordell, Vela.
Booked: Ricketts, Ream.
Goals: Petrov 62 pen,Ngog 63.
Referee: Chris Foy
But Bolton showed plenty of the
spirit that has been a hallmark of recent dogfights at the bottom of the
Premier League and stormed towards a vital triumph that closed the gap
on the Birmingham club to just three points.
Straight from the kick-off, they
charged down the other end of the pitch and Mark Davies’ elicited a
clumsy tackle from Villa skipper Carlos Cuellar.
Referee Chris Foy had no hesitation in awarding a spot-kick and Martin Petrov lashed a leveller past Shay Given.
With the Trotters’ support still
celebrating, their team promptly added another to send Coyle into
raptures. A neat one-two down the right ended with Chris Eagles finding
David Ngog. The striker poked home to leave McLeish facing a massive
test in the final stages of the season.
Until then, it had been a pretty good
evening for Villa. They had laid siege to Bolton’s goal without success
during a one-sided first-half. The players were rightly given an
ovation for their efforts.
And they appeared to be rewarded when
Warnock converted from close-range, but as ever at Villa Park this
season, nothing was as simple as it seemed.
Back in the game: Martin Petrov celebrates his penalty
Spot on: Petrov makes it 1-1
With only four home league wins to their name, it is fair to say that Villa’s fans have every right to feel short-changed.
There was a distinct energy about
their display during the opening few minutes, a situation helped by the
visitors’ wayward passing. In fact, they should have taken a lead inside
the opening minute. Chris Herd enjoyed a clear sight of the ball as he
charged onto Charles N’Zogbia’s corner but sent his header over.
Going ahead: Stephen Warnock celebrates scoring the opening goal
Sam Ricketts’ poor headed clearance
then fell to Emile Heskey on the half-volley but he was off-balance as
he struck the ball and his shot flew over. He was on target with a
vicious effort on the turn midway through the half but found Adam Bogdan
in perfect position to save.
For all his lack of goals, Heskey has
always been a wholehearted performer. And his neat turn and shot again
saw Bogdan block. And Bolton were given an undoubted reprieve eight
minutes before the interval.
Heads up: Martin Petrov competes with Alan Hutton
Making their feelings clear: Aston Villa fans hold a banner in the stands in protest against manager Alex McLeish
Alan Hutton created an overlap down
the right and Warnock charged onto the ball on his favoured left foot.
He connected well enough but then slumped to the floor with his head in
his hands as his shot thumped onto the crossbar and away.
/04/24/article-2134610-12BFF4CE000005DC-405_634x454.jpg” width=”634″ height=”454″ alt=”Flying Eagle: Chris Eagles hurdles the challenge of Carlos Cuellar ” class=”blkBorder” />
Flying Eagle: Chris Eagles hurdles the challenge of Carlos Cuellar
Wall does its job: Charles N' Zogbia fires his free-kick into the wall
Coyle decided that Villa’s rearguard
had been enjoying far too comfortable a night and turned to Kevin Davies
to make a difference at the interval.
Shay Given had only one save to make from Ryo Miyaichi and it was the Japanese who made way for the veteran striker.
Eyes on the ball: Eric Lichaj and Ryo Miyaichi challenge for the ball
Getting the tackle in: Eric Lichaj challenges Ryo Miyaichi
Davies made an impact and within 10 minutes of the second-half he won a free-kick for Eagles to try his luck from 35 yards out.
It was game on and it was Bolton who would win the day.
It’s going to be a tough couple of weeks for Alex McLeish.