Bolton Wanderers 1-0 Aston Villa

  • March 17, 2018 | By Chris Mann
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Adam Le Fondre scored the only goal as Bolton ground out a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa in blizzard conditions at Macron Stadium.

Le Fondre struck on 19 minutes, poking home from close range after a corner from Sammy Ameobi had been flicked on at the near-post by Darren Pratley, who would later succumb to injury.

Villa had their opportunities to equalise, with Jon Flanagan clearing off the line from Scott Hogan in the latter stages, but it was Wanderers who picked up the points to maintain a six-point gap between themselves and the Championship relegation zone.

Following on from back-to-back draws on the road, Phil Parkinson named an unchanged side as Bolton looked to pick up a rare victory against a team starting the day in the top-six - having registered just five points from a possible 27 throughout the course of the season.

With the action underway, it was the hosts who had the better of the opening exchanges - with both Mark Beevers and Derik Osede coming close from corners.

Beevers was soon involved at the other end, putting his body on the line to deny Lewis Grabban a clear run on goal.

Wanderers won a corner on 19 minutes after a free-kick from Ameobi was turned behind but his next delivery was much improved, with Pratley flicking the ball on at the near-post and Le Fondre pouncing from six yards to tap the ball into the net for 1-0.

Bolton should have doubled their advantage four minutes later, with Beevers winning an aerial tussle inside the Villa box, only for an unmarked Flanagan to see his goalbound shot cleared off the line by John Terry.

The home side were forced into a change on 27 minutes as Pratley, who had been a doubt ahead of kick-off after suffering a knock in training during the week, was forced off with an apparent leg injury. On in his place was Josh Vela.

Tempers flared on the half-hour as a strong challenge from Andrew Taylor on Birkir Bjarnason left the Iceland international on the turf, prompting Villa boss Steve Bruce to come charging out of his technical area. A confrontation between Karl Henry and Robert Snodgrass followed, with referee Robert Jones issuing both players a yellow card.

Villa could have been level moments later as Albert Adomah got in ahead of Reece Burke, but he couldn't direct his diving header on target as Wanderers survived a major scare.

The visitors came even closer from their next attack, with an unmarked Lewis Grabban seeing a mishit shot clawed behind by Ben Alnwick, but Bolton remained a threat at the other end with Villa 'keeper Sam Johnstone twice denying Vela and Ameobi - the latter of whom hit the target with a 25-yard free-kick.

Having taken their 1-0 lead into the interval, there were no further changes to either team as the players came back out for the start of the second period.

With conditions worsening and the ball becoming increasingly stuck on the snowy turf, it wasn't until the 65th minute when either team really made strides into the final third.

When it did arrive, it fell the way of Bolton. Latching on to a clearance from Alnwick, Le Fondre used his body to shrug off a pitiful challenge from James Chester before seeing his early-taken volley flash narrowly wide of the far post.

Things then opened up for Villa at the other end, with Snodgrass stepping inside two challenges before seeing his effort blocked by the body of Beevers.

Buckley twice came close for Wanderers as the clock ticked into the final 20 minutes, volleying over on each occasion, moments before the visitors were denied a certain goal as Flanagan got back to cover and clear a goalbound strike from Hogan off the line.

Then, in three added minutes for stoppages, Alnwick produced the save of the game, changing direction to make a save low down to his left - keeping out a header from James Bree - as the Trotters picked up maximum points.

Victory sees Bolton move above Reading and into 19th position in the Championship, although Birmingham City's afternoon success over Hull City means the gap between Wanderers and the relegation zone remains at six points.

Domestic football takes a week off now due to the international break, with Parkinson's side next in action on Good Friday when they travel to Leeds United.

Bolton Wanderers: Alnwick, A Taylor, Beevers, Burke, Flanagan, Osede, Henry, Pratley (Vela 27), Buckley (Robinson 81), Ameobi, Le Fondre
Subs Not Used: Howard, Noone, Wilbraham, Wheater, Clough
Booked: Henry
Goals: Le Fondre 19

Aston Villa: Johnstone, El Mohamady, Chester, Terry, Bree, Bjarnason, Snodgrass (Davis 82), Hourihane (Hepburn-Murphy 54), Grealish, Adomah (Hogan 72), Grabban
Subs Not Used: Bunn, Lansbury, Jedinak, Onomah
Booked: Chester, Snodgrass

Referee: Robert Jones
Attendance: 19,304

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
11 Ipswich Town 20 27
12 Cheltenham Town 19 27
13 Bolton Wanderers 20 26
14 Accrington Stanley 19 24
15 Charlton Athletic 20 23
View Full Standings >>


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