Regulation mutual shirt- tugging exploded into full-blown fisticuffs, fuelled as much by Todd's frustration at the scoreline and Collymore's surly attitude to his own poor form, as any lingering hostility.
Collymore's manager, Brian Little, was reluctant to offer explanations for the fight. "I don't think the incident was anything to do with frustration. It was a big scuffle and the referee said there were punches thrown from both sides," he said. The fact that the Villa striker had earlier wasted the easiest of chances to seal the game, side-footing over an open goal, had not improved his composure.
The remainder of the match was more bantamweight than heavyweight. Bolton, relying on their left flank for the lion's share of their meagre creativity, pressed constantly but with precious little incision. The few home chances were restricted to speculative long-range attempts as ponderous approach play was comfortably defended.
It proved a difficult baptism for Bolton's debutant pounds 3.5m record signing, Dean Holdsworth, who was starved of service.
Villa's early goal had set a predictable pattern for their game. With Dwight Yorke dropping ever deeper behind the front pair of Collymore and Savo Milosevic, Villa also struggled to find the cutting edge. The goal - Milosevic climbing above Todd to meet a header from a Fernando Nelson cross - was the exception to Villa's poor final-ball rule.
Bolton's manager, Colin Todd, refused to comment on the incident involving his son, but Gudni Bergsson said his colleague had reacted in self-defence. "There was a bit of an elbow thrown to begin with and Andy got angry with that and went for Collymore," Bergsson explained.Reuse content