Villa find their feet at last as Coyle's sense of crisis grows

Bolton Wanderers 1 Aston Villa 2: McLeish's side end barren spell with easy pickings leaving Bolton manager with a 'horrible feeling'

The Reebok Stadium

Aston Villa, without a goal in their last three games, found the fire-power for two in quick succession against the worst defence in the Premier League as Bolton slumped into last place in the table.

Alex McLeish's usually shot-shy side should have had far more to show for their dominance than those two strikes in the first half, but they were enough to account for the weary Wanderers, who were jeered off at half-time and full-time.

Marc Albrighton and Stiliyan Petrov were the scorers, but in reality Bolton got off lightly, because on another day Darren Bent could have had a hat-trick.

"The first half, I thought we were amazing," said McLeish. "I'm delighted we've got our first away win of the season. It's been a long time coming."

For Owen Coyle, a few points at home would be a good start to the task of rescuing something from this miserable campaign. "Disappointment would be an understatement," said the Bolton manager. "It's a horrible feeling."

Coyle's side, seeking only their second home win of the season, were at least able to field their England – and former Villa – defender, Gary Cahill, after his red card at Tottenham last week was overturned.

The biggest surprise in the visitors' line-up was the presence of Charles N'Zogbia, after he was left out of their last match against Manchester Unitedfor disciplinary reasons.

Despite their recent barren spell, it was Aston Villa who made the running, always threatening to take advantage of a loose and leaky Bolton midfield.

After the Wanderers fashioned the first semblance of a chance, wasted by Chris Eagles' weak finish, it was virtually all Villa.

They had two gilt-edged chances to take the lead, both of which they squandered, Petrov missing an open goal after Gabriel Agbonlahor had robbed Cahill and Bent shooting straight at the goalkeeper's legs from an equally clear-cut opportunity.

Against a side playing with any confidence, those could have been expensive misses. As it was, after Eagles had hit Brad Guzan, standing in for the injured Shay Given, in the chest with a free-kick, Villa belatedly converted their superiority into goals. Two arrived within six minutes and both owed much to woeful defending. Agbonlahor got his cross in from the left and, although it was just behind Bent, it fell perfectly for the lively Albrighton to net his first goal of the season.

The whole Bolton defence backed away from Petrov for the second, leaving him free for a shot which took a deflection off Cahill on its way past Jussi Jaaskelainen. "Both goals were really soft," said Coyle. "There were four or five individual mistakes within those two goals."

Bolton went off a few minutes later to the booing of their own supporters at half-time and they deserved little better.

The best that can be said about them was that they improved marginally after the break. A clever back-heel from Ivan Klasnic set up Eagles for a shot which Guzan clawed around the post and, from the resulting corner, an unholy scramble ended with Klasnic, who later went off with a knee injury that could further stretch Coyle's resources, finding the net.

With 35 minutes to play, Bolton, almost despite themselves, had genuine prospects of salvaging what would have been their first League draw of the season. The only real opportunities, however, fell to Mark Davies – one fired high, the other comfortably saved.

Even then, Villa should have been pulling further clear, but Bent wasted another glaring chance when his shot took a deflection off Cahill and went wide of the gaping net. The late introduction of Gaël Kakuta injected a little burst of energy, but Bolton were never in serious danger of avoiding their fate. On this form, the Championship looms.

Bolton (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen; Boyata, Cahill, Knight, Robinson; Tuncay (Kakuta, 70) Pratley, M Davies, Eagles; K Davies, Klasnic (Ngog, 78).

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Guzan; Hutton, Dunne, Collins, Warnock; Albrighton, Petrov, Herd, N'Zogbia; Bent (Heskey, 80), Agbonlahor.

Referee: Phil Dowd

Man of the match: Albrighton (Aston Villa)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Buddy DeFranco
people
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month