Yorke leaves Bolton adrift

Bolton Wanderers 0 Aston Villa 2 Yorke 40, 53 Attendance: 18,099
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The Independent Online
THE GULF between these two sides was far greater than the two headers routinely converted by Dwight Yorke would indicate. By next season, it will almost inevitably be a division wider. The flattering scoreline was single-handedly down to another outstanding display from Keith Branagan in the Bolton goal. Once Villa took the lead, the home side lost confidence, shape and determination.

In contrast, Villa turned on the style in the second half with Alan Wright and Gary Charles granted the freedom of the flanks. On another day, Yorke's tally might have threatened records set by his friend Brian Lara. Brian Little's slick but organised outfit toyed with Bolton, the quality of the final ball a decisive factor.

For Bolton, Sasa Curcic was his customary spritely self before the interval but the burden of attacking responsibility invariably results in the Serbian fading from the game. His long-range efforts excepted, the home side's offensive options were predictable and blunt. The new striking partnership of Nathan Blake and Fabian de Freitas was far from striking, devoid of ideas when denied space behind Villa's efficient back three.

For the first time this season, the Bolton manager, Colin Todd, saw his players' heads drop. "When the second goal went in it was alarming how we stopped running and chasing people down," he admitted. "The players let themselves and the supporters down."

Little was surprised by Bolton's tactical formation. "I expected them to play the same system as us but they played three very much in the centre of the park," he explained.

The Villa opener followed Bolton's brightest first-half spell in which Mark Bosnich tipped a stinging Curcic free-kick over the bar and also combined to block a close-range effort from Blake. Mark Draper powered into the area and drilled a flat cross from the left which was met cleanly by the head of Yorke.

The roaming Tommy Johnson twice hit the woodwork with crafty, instinctive efforts and Savo Milosevic was always a handful. It was Yorke, though, who accepted the executioner's role, nodding in a deftly lobbed Johnson cross unchallenged.