Cohen's volley ensures Villa carry on subsiding

Bolton Wanderers 1 Aston Villa 1

Although they finished together, this was a game of teams moving at different speeds. Bolton Wanderers are edging slowly towards Premier League survival; Aston Villa are racing towards an anti-climax.

Two months ago Villa appeared to have a Champions' League spot for the taking but they have gone 12 matches without a win in all competitions and fourth place in the Premier League looks about as likely as a Christmas present for Rafael Benitez from Sir Alex Ferguson.

This was only Villa's fourth league point from their last 27 and given the way they struggled in this match the end of the season cannot come quickly enough – even their goal, an intended cross from Ashley Young that sneaked in, was a fluke. Bolton, who equalised through Tamir Cohen, were no better but at least the result moved them fractionally further away from the bottom three.

Martin O'Neill, the Villa manager, conceded that fourth place is now unlikely. "We needed to win today to have any chance," he said. "I thought we were in control in the second half and were enjoying our best spell of sustained possession when they scored. It can always happen." Gary Megson, his Bolton counterpart, was satisfied with the result if not the performance. "I some ways it epitomised us," he said. "Not a lot of quality but hearts as big as buckets."

Villa's lack of confidence was embodied by Young in the opening minutes, two crosses going hopelessly awry. Not that Young was unique and the game was 20 minutes old before the first hint of a chance arrived, when John Carew passed to James Milner who cut inside from the right only for his shot to be blocked by Andy O'Brien.

Bolton replied with a move of their own that should have brought a goal after 32 minutes. A lovely curving pass from Kevin Davies was matched by cross from Matt Taylor but Fabrice Muamba swung with his left foot from five yards and failed to make contact. This seemed likely to be the defining moment of a poor first half but a minute before the interval Villa took the lead. Emile Heskey passed to Young whose cross was aimed at Carew's run. The ball was too high but the curl surprised Jussi Jaaskelainen and with the Bolton goalkeeper stuck on his line the ball hit the upright and bounced in.

The goal had two effects. The first was to invigorate Young, who began to resemble the outstanding winger of the autumn, and the second was to drag some lucidity from the hitherto incoherent Bolton. That was apparent immediately from the restart when Taylor crossed, Johan Elmander cushioned the ball with his head and Davies hit a volley wide.

It promised a more vigorous performance from the home side and that was realised on the hour. Bolton have lived off their set-pieces throughout their current spell in the top division and their goal came from the usual source. Taylor pumped a free-kick from the halfway line, Davies headed on and O'Brien's determination propelled the ball towards the penalty spot where Cohen hit a half volley past Brad Friedel.

Villa, attempting to gain their first success since 7 February, finished on the offensive but the closest they came to ending their depressing run came when Carew's header was tipped over the bar by Jaaskelainen with five minutes to go. In truth was very half-hearted. The best news for Villa yesterday was not at the Reebok but at Goodison Park.

Attendance: 21,709

Referee: Lee Probert

Man of the match: O'Brien

Match rating: 4/10

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks