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

Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk