Adam le Fondre’s goal was enough for Bolton to inflict Aston Villa’s second defeat in five days, putting the Prides automatic promotion hopes in jeopardy.
The snow certainly didn’t help, then again it’s easy to blame the weather when really Villa failed to adapt their play style to the testing conditions.
After 19 minutes, Sammy Ameobi’s corner found it’s way through to le Fondre who made no mistake, tapping in at the back post.
It was a poor goal to concede, but Villa were nearly level when Jack Grealish hit a looping effort which Ben Alnwick tipped over the bar.
Bolton should’ve been a man down after Andrew Taylor went in high on strong on Birkir Bjarnason’s ankle. Unsurprisingly, Steve Bruce wasn’t best pleased with the defenders attempted tackle.
However, for all of Villas struggles, they could’ve equalised had Lewis Grabban got a cleaner connection on Grealish’s square ball. The striker’s scuffed effort was tipped round the post by Alnwick.
Jon Flanagan was lucky to get away with a handball in the box following Albert Adomah’s flick from Robert Snodgrass set-piece, then again, you could argue the Bolton full-back didn’t know much about it.
Not long into the second-half, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy came on for Conor Hourihane to partner Grabban up front.
To be fair to the home side, they managed the game well. Choosing to hit it long in midfield and stay compact defensively. Villa failing to have a shot on target with four strikers on the pitch is testament to that.
Adam le Fondre had a good chance to score a second when Villa failed to deal with the bounce of the ball, but luckily his half volley fell wide.
Another striker was brought on soon after; Scott Hogan for Adomah.
And it was Hogan who had the golden chance, the former Brentford striker would’ve scored from Snodgrass’ pull back if Flanagan wasn’t there to stop the ball crossing the line.
With conditions worsening, Keinan Davis came on for Robert Snodgrass, making up part of four recognised strikers on the pitch for Villa.
Luck wasn’t on Villa’s side late on. In stoppage time Grealish played a deep ball in and a diving James Bree got his head to the ball. However, the excellent Alnwick adjusted his feet to palm the ball away.
It just wasn’t our night and it looks like play-offs is where we’ll end up. In the international break Villa can regroup and reflect on recent results and hopefully get some momentum going once again as the season draws to a close.
Words by Harry Trend (@HazaTrand) // Follow us on Twitter (@claretandview)
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