For a second straight week, Aston Villa, were featured in the Championship’s nationally televised Friday night match as they hosted a struggling Bolton side.
To be fair, the claret and blue had not exactly been tearing up trees themselves. However, the fourth match in charge for Dean Smith saw Villa come out on top in a contest that very well could have gone to either side.
Jack Grealish had his best performance of the season in a 2-0 victory that provided the club some forward momentum headed into a busy couple of months.
Here is a recap of tonight’s victory at Villa Park.
The second minute saw the first half-chance for Villa as the interplay between Alan Hutton and Albert Adomah on the right freed the ‘Scottish Cafu’ in the box. Unfortunately his cross to Tammy Abraham did not come off.
Just two minutes later, it was a first goal of the season for Jack Grealish! Villa’s no. 10 timed a great run and Abraham threaded a pass through Bolton’s defence. A touch from Grealish past the keeper left him with an open goal. The claret and blue got off to a flyer.
The 7th minute saw the Chelsea loanee make another great pass in attack to Alan Hutton on the right. However, the right-back sailed a cross out for a goal kick. Just seconds later, the Scot earned Villa a free-kick with his attacking run. The home side did not make anything out of it, but the play was indicative of their early control of the match.
After having 76% of the possession, Albert Adomah had a crack from distance in the 14th minute that was off target. A minute later, Ørjan Nyland was called into action to collect Clayton Donaldson’s cross after the former Birmingham man was loosely marked.
Dean Smith’s men remained in an attacking mode as John McGinn played a good cross into the Wanderers’ box two minutes later. Had Ben Alnwick not collected the ball, it would have likely been a second goal.
The visitors seemed to get their footing in the next few minutes as they had their best spell of possession that ended with Nyland saving Erhun Oztumer’s scuffed effort inside the box in the 21st minute. Villa were fortunate that the Turk did not make full contact.
Phil Parkinson’s side were clearly instructed to play crosses as a dangerous one eventually led to Villa’s captain – James Chester – clearing Jack Hobb’s header off the line with what was essentially a bicycle kick in the 24th. A sure goal was saved with an excellent bit of defensive play.
Four minutes later, Jack was at it again with a strike from long-range that Bolton’s keeper was unable to collect. There wasn’t a Villa player in the vicinity to take advantage of the rebound. It was certainly great to see Grealish with an eye for goals after he had a bit of duck to start the season.
A Scottish buildup in the 29th led to an Alan Hutton cross that found a free Jonathan Kodjia at the back post. ‘Jimmy Danger’ made contact, but his volleyed strike was well over the bar. The play probably deserved a better finish from another player who needs a goal.
ANOTHER ASSIST FOR CONOR HOURIHANE…but the offside flag was up on James Chester’s headed goal three minutes later. Nonetheless, the Aston Villa midfielder delivered another great free-kick.
The claret and blue were fortunate in the 34th minute as Clayton Donaldson – who somehow seems to always want to mug off Villa – made contact with a free-kick out wide. That touch led to the ball deflecting off Axel Tuanzebe to Nyland’s back post. Erhun Oztumer just about equalized as he slid to try to make contact with the ball.
After a few uneventful minutes, a hash of a free-kick from the Trotters’ midfielder Oztumer led to Ørjan Nyland doing the same in his effort to collect what miraculously became a threatening ball.
A subsequent corner did not lead to anything of note.
The 43rd saw John McGinn do what surely most basketball coaches would appreciate – follow his cross. A new ‘Villan’ favourite, he played a ball to Jonathan Kodjia inside the box. Tammy Abraham was unable to get a head on the Ivorian’s lofted contact across goal and McGinn came rushing in with a diving header that found the left side netting.
After one minute of stoppage time, the whistle blew and Aston Villa went into the dressing room with a 1-0 lead that – had it not been for a tight offside call – could well have been doubled. Villa controlled 65% of possession whilst having more attempts than Bolton, but the visitors were a threat and ‘Deano’s’ men were probably lucky to be up.
The second kicked off with Tammy Abraham and the Holte End all with their head in their hands. Villa’s striker was clear in after Jonathan Kodjia’s pass inside the box. He absolutely missed a golden chance when he couldn’t control the ball.
Just minutes of two later, Ørjan Nyland made a great save on Craig Noone’s fizzed low shot on goal. The spell of play was example of how both sides fortunes could have been vastly different – we agree:
Good save Nyland, he is actually a good shot stopper.— Sir Bob XXX (@SupportAVFC) November 2, 2018
There was a break in play in the 52nd and 53rd as Jack Hobbs fouled Tammy Abraham. The Bolton defender ironically came out worse for wear and received treatment from the physio.
The 57th minute saw John McGinn – who seemed to takeover the mantle of Aston Villa’s most fouled player from ‘Super Jack’ – earn a free-kick on the right that led to a Grealish delivery and a deserved headed goal for James Chester! There were shouts again for offside, but the linesman’s flag remained down. It was 2-0 to the good.
The claret and blue remained on the ball for a few minutes as the 63rd minute saw both Grealish as well as McGinn have strikes from 20-yards out blocked by the Bolton defence.
Three minutes later Tammy Abraham committed a foul on Pawel Olkowski. The Holte End went in hard with their chants targeting the Pole, but to be fair, the play did draw his blood. Shortly after, Phil Parkinson made the first change of the match - Lloyd Dyer, a Villa supporter, replaced Will Buckley.
After a good attacking effort, Albert Adomah very nearly scored a wondergoal with an overhead kick in the 70th the skimmed just over the bar. That same minute also saw Bolton bring on Josh Magennis.
Dean Smith also made a change minutes later as Yannick Bolasie replaced Adomah. Chants of “Oh Albert Adomah…” rang out for the man who had just about put the match to bed.
A fairly uneventful few minutes of play led to Bolasie being a threat in the 80th minute. His skill on the ball allowed him the space to get a cross into the box from the right. Unfortunately for Villa, Jonathan Kodjia wasn’t able to get off a strike.
A minute later, Scott Hogan – in need of a goal as well – replaced Abraham. The 84th saw Axel Tuanzebe tracking back in defence to dispossess Christian Doidge who was one-on-one with Ørjan Nyland. It was an impressive tackle from a player that has done just that in recent matches.
A couple minutes later conjured up memories of this as an offside Scott Hogan was played through on goal. In the 89th Lloyd Dyer had a half-chance inside the 18-yard box for Bolton – the effort was not terribly threatening.
A well-deserved ovation was given to Jack Grealish when Glenn Whelan replaced him as the referee added five minutes of stoppage time.
Stoppage time only saw a corner from the visitors and Josh Magennis float a shot well wide of goal. In the end, Villa comfortably saw out the match as they handed Bolton their third loss in a row.
As the commentator suggested, it appears Aston Villa are gradually turning a corner under the new managerial regime. As ever, it was a most appropriate sending off for a victory at Villa Park.
The claret and blue will next travel to Pride Park to face Derby County next Saturday. UTV!