Aston VillaAston Villa2BoltonBolton Wanderers0

Aston Villa 2-0 Bolton: Villa back to winning ways

By Ged ScottBBC Sport at Villa Park
Jack Grealish opens the scoring for Aston Villa against Bolton
Jack Grealish scored his first goal in 24 games to get Villa off to a perfect start

Aston Villa eased to their second straight home win under new boss Dean Smith as they eventually saw off free-falling Bolton Wanderers.

Jack Grealish's fourth-minute strike gave Villa the perfect start, but all they could add to it was a second-half header from skipper James Chester.

Villa's victory was only their fifth in 16 Championship games this season.

It lifts them four places to 13th going into the rest of the weekend fixtures, just four points off a play-off place.

But Phil Parkinson's Bolton have now managed just one win in 12, having picked up only one point out of a possible last 18.

Goalgetter Grealish

Grealish had been given a pre-match nudge by new Villa boss Smith to spend less time chasing the ball and concentrate on the area where he can do most damage, closer to the opposition goal.

And he took less than four minutes to show he had listened to that advice as he scored his first goal in 24 games - since his late winner in the 1-0 home victory over Cardiff City on 10 April.

From Tammy Abraham's nicely-weighted pass through the Bolton defence, Villa's prize asset coolly rounded keeper Ben Alnwick before side-footing into the empty net.

It was exactly an hour later, in playing time, when captain Chester, who had a first-half header disallowed for offside, added the second with his head from Grealish's dipping free-kick.

But in between, it was certainly not all plain-sailing as Villa - Abraham in particular - proved wasteful and were frustrated by too many offside decisions and a lack of protection of their players at times from referee Oliver Langford.

It took an extraordinary, acrobatic clearance on the line by Chester to keep out a goalbound header from Jack Hobbs. And it needed a scrambled near post save from home keeper Orjan Nyland, who still looks far from assured, to keep out Craig Noone.

Although Villa did hold out for a second home clean sheet under Smith, Bolton pressed throughout - and a side who have scored just three times in two months were only denied something by their glaring lack of any genuine goal threat.

Aston Villa head coach Dean Smith told BBC Sport:

"We deserved to win, but I didn't think we were anywhere near our best. Of the four games we've had since I came in, that was probably the least dominant we've been.

"After we scored the second goal, we had a 15 or 20 minute spell in which we were excellent, but there's still a lot for us to work on. That brief spell showed me the levels this group can get to.

"There was a distinct averageness about other things we did. But keeping a clean sheet will have given Orjan Nyland a lot of confidence.

"Jack Grealish did just what was asked of him in getting in the box and scoring. And James Chester put in a really good performance. Quite apart from his goal, that goal-line clearance he pulled off was like another goal."

Bolton boss Phil Parkinson told BBC Sport:

"We just need something to go for us. We had the chances. One cleared off the line and a lot of scrambles in the box.

"Conceding so early was disappointing. Was it concentration levels or was it a good link-up play between Abraham and Grealish? Probably a bit of both.

"But, for their second goal, how has the ref has given a free-kick? I'm gobsmacked. Joe Williams has won the ball cleanly with a great tackle.

"The officials have got to give us a helping hand by getting simple decisions right. I was livid. It's unacceptable at this level. They were probably not up to the standard required."


Aston Villa

Formation 4-4-1-1

  • 1Nyland
  • 21Hutton
  • 4Tuanzebe
  • 5Chester
  • 3Taylor
  • 37AdomahSubstituted forBolasieat 73'minutes
  • 7McGinn
  • 14Hourihane
  • 26Kodjia
  • 10GrealishSubstituted forWhelanat 90'minutes
  • 18AbrahamSubstituted forHoganat 81'minutes


  • 6Whelan
  • 9Hogan
  • 11Bolasie
  • 15Jedinak
  • 22El Ghazi
  • 27El Mohamady
  • 31Bunn


Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Alnwick
  • 16OlkowskiBooked at 42mins
  • 31WheaterBooked at 79mins
  • 14Hobbs
  • 3Taylor
  • 21Williams
  • 4Lowe
  • 12NooneBooked at 83mins
  • 7OztumerSubstituted forDoidgeat 78'minutes
  • 11BuckleySubstituted forDyerat 68'minutes
  • 8DonaldsonSubstituted forMagennisat 70'minutes


  • 5Beevers
  • 6Vela
  • 9Doidge
  • 20Matthews
  • 22Dyer
  • 28Magennis
  • 29Grounds
Oliver Langford

Match Stats

Home TeamAston VillaAway TeamBolton
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Aston Villa 2, Bolton Wanderers 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Aston Villa 2, Bolton Wanderers 0.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Josh Magennis (Bolton Wanderers) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by David Wheater with a headed pass.

  4. Post update

    Corner, Bolton Wanderers. Conceded by Alan Hutton.

  5. Post update

    Jonathan Kodjia (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Jason Lowe (Bolton Wanderers).

  7. Substitution

    Substitution, Aston Villa. Glenn Whelan replaces Jack Grealish.

  8. Post update

    Attempt missed. Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top right corner. Assisted by Jack Grealish.

  9. Post update

    Attempt missed. Josh Magennis (Bolton Wanderers) header from very close range is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Craig Noone with a cross.

  10. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Lloyd Dyer (Bolton Wanderers) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Christian Doidge.

  11. Post update

    Attempt missed. Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by John McGinn.

  12. Post update

    Offside, Aston Villa. Alan Hutton tries a through ball, but Scott Hogan is caught offside.

  13. Post update

    Corner, Bolton Wanderers. Conceded by Axel Tuanzebe.

  14. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Neil Taylor (Aston Villa) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by John McGinn.

  15. Booking

    Craig Noone (Bolton Wanderers) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  16. Post update

    Yannick Bolasie (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Craig Noone (Bolton Wanderers).

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Aston Villa. Scott Hogan replaces Tammy Abraham.

  19. Post update

    Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Christian Doidge (Bolton Wanderers).


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