Young stands out from crowd with touch of class

Bolton Wanderers 0 Aston Villa 1

A coolly taken early goal by Ashley Young was enough to sustain Villa's stuttering challenge for fourth place against a Bolton side still not certain of Premier League survival.

It was one of the few memorable moments in an undistinguished match, which nevertheless served as a rehabilitation of sorts for Villa.

"I knew the players were determined to put things right," said their manager, Martin O'Neill. "I thought we played very well today." It was the end of a turbulent week for Villa, full of repercussions from their 7-1 humiliation by Chelsea and of dark hints about his future from O'Neill.

The side that his critics say should have achieved more to justify the outlay on it at least gave him the boost of an early lead, one which they never really looked like losing, although Bolton had an even earlier chance that could have given them the advantage.

Jack Wilshere, their classy loan signing from Arsenal, showed his willingness to battle by winning a free-kick and Tamir Cohen's volley had to be well saved by Brad Friedel.

It was to be Wanderers' best moment of the whole game. After 10 minutes they were behind with Young, already operating his wing-swap routine with Stewart Downing, popping up on the left to take Stephen Warnock's pass inside the penalty area.

Bolton, apparently astonished to find him there, gave him far too much room. Although the angle was narrow, Young curled his shot right-footed just inside Jussi Jaaskelainen's far post. Bolton's manager, Owen Coyle, called it "an exquisite finish, but a bad goal for us to give away".

It did not add up to the best opening 10 minutes ever seen, but it was more eventful than the rest of the game put together.

Villa, despite O'Neill's praise for their effort, lacked quality with their final ball; Bolton simply lacked quality. The closest thing to genuine excitement in the sterile remaining 80 minutes was a Downing free-kick which was deflected wide and, more unusually, a header over the bar from the same player.

The second half was more noteworthy for the narrow avoidance of a diplomatic incident, when the contemporary rarity of a contested drop-ball sent Gabriel Agbonlahor sprinting away only to put his shot past the post – which was probably just as well. There was less diplomacy about the fracas after the final whistle that saw three players booked. It was a shame they did not put as much passion into the other 90 minutes.

Attendance: 21,111

Referee: Mike Jones

Man of the match: Dunne

Match rating: 3/10

Travel
travel
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
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

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star