Without a goal to his credit since May, Juan Pablo Angel was an unlikely candidate to be the one to breach the defences of fortress Reebok.
As this game went into its last few minutes, Bolton went past the 11-hour mark since they had last conceded a home goal in the Premiership. Then, with three minutes to play, and El Hadji Diouf's goal six minutes earlier looking sufficient to maintain Wanderers' momentum at the top end of the table, two substitutes combined for the score that continued Villa's cautious rehabilitation since their infamous Carling Cup defeat at Doncaster.
Luke Moore's persistence allowed him to square the ball to Angel, who had been on the field for only three minutes, in the six-yard box and the Colombian steadied himself sufficiently to put the chance away, despite the desperate efforts of Bruno N'Gotty on the goal-line.
"He's delighted," said Angel's manager, David O'Leary. "If we can get him firing, which he hasn't been, we will benefit from it. I thought we deserved a reward. This is one of the hardest places to come, and we showed great character to bounce back after Bolton scored."
The game was already in its last 10 minutes before Wanderers managed that, although Thomas Sorensen had made two wonderful saves, at point-blank range from Kevin Davies and low down to keep out Gary Speed's goal-bound header.
Diouf also had a shot hacked off the line by Aaron Hughes, but it took the arrival of Ricardo Vaz Te to produce a breakthrough. He had only just come into the game when he wriggled away from Hughes in the penalty area and prodded the ball square for Diouf, who got outside Wilfred Bouma to send his angled shot into the far corner of the net.
"We scored from the hardest chance we had," said the Bolton manager, Sam Allardyce. "We created numerous chances, but didn't convert them."
It was that failure, rather than conceding a goal at the Reebok that concerned Allardyce. "You can't expect to keep going without a goal against you," he said. "Sooner or later, someone's going to score. It's the manner of the goal and the way it cost us two points that's the disappointment."
Even then, Bolton could have won it, but Sorensen again got down to make another reflex save from Vaz Te in extra time.
"We needed to get those points against a team that didn't offer much," said Allardyce, although that dismisses Villa's determined effort a little too easily.Reuse content