Any hopes of automatic promotion are all but over as they slumped to a second defeat this week to Bolton, as manager Steve Bruce was shown up for his lack of a plan B once again.
The manager stated that he should have made changes before the defeat to QPR on Tuesday but didn’t so instead he made changes for this game against Bolton. To the shock of many Villa fans, it was only two changes though.
Birkir Bjarnason and James Bree replaced Mile Jedinak and the injured Neil Taylor otherwise it was once again the same side.
Villa was slow to get going and was punished after just 19 minutes due to poor defending from a set piece. Sammy Ameobi‘s low corner was flicked on by Darren Pratley at the neat post into the path of an unmarked Adam Le Fondre, who was able to poke home from close range.
Bolton should have doubled their lead straight from the restart but former Liverpool full-back Jon Flanagan’s low drive was blocked on the line.
Villa upped their efforts and Albert Adomah come close but he headed Lewis Grabbans deep cross wide. Grabban then came close himself but he missed a great chanced when he misdirected Jack Grealish’s low cross from three yards out.
Bolton was very lucky to still have not have seen a red when Andrew Taylor followed through on a tackle on Bjarnason which was very high and the Icelandic midfielder was very lucky not to come away with a serious injury.
As the snow continued to fall over the Macron Stadium the conditions got worse but Bolton seemed to get stronger as Le Fondre shrugged James Chester before putting his first-time shot wide of the goal.
Villa then came close through substitute Scott Hogan as he met a Robert Snodgrass cross but his shot was blocked by Flanagan.
Ben Alnwick denied Villa late in injury time when James Bree got on the end of another Grealish cross but the points belonged to Bolton and deservedly so.
For the second time this week, Villa fans could only watch on as our manager got it tactically wrong and the players looked uninspiring and tired.
I have my thoughts on the manager regardless of the outcome of this season but that is for another day. Right now we just need to stick together and regroup during this International break and try and get in some good form for the playoffs.
Steve Bruce:”At the end of the day we’ve given a sloppy goal away, we’ve huffed and puffed, had a few opportunities and had the better chances and couldn’t quite take one. I’m disappointed with our first half showing as we didn’t do enough and unfortunately they’ve paid the price.”
Phil Parkinson: “It’s a huge win for us going into the international break. We’re still got a six-point gap and obviously, we are pleased. Villa is a very good side, but it was an excellent performance from us tonight and I thought we deserved it.”