Dean Smith claimed his second win for Aston Villa in a comfortable 2-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers, at Villa Park.
Jack Grealish opened his account for the season, whilst James Chester added a second. The captain started alongside Axel Tuanzebe, Neil Taylor and Alan Hutton, as Smith looks to implement a consistent back line with Orjan Nyland in goal. Conor Hourihane and John McGinn partnered in the middle of the park. With Albert Adomah and Jonothan Kodjia providing width. Tammy Abraham led the line with Grealish behind the Chelsea loanee.
The hosts started brightly with Hutton proving a menace on the right side, using his athleticism to support Adomah on the wing.
Caught cold, Bolton paid for their tired start as Abraham easily wriggled away from the experienced David Wheater, sliding through former England u21 partner Grealish. Jack raced onto the ball before evading Ben Alnwick’s attempt to thwart him. Allowing Villa’s number ten to roll home.
With under five minutes played, the hosts looked to double their advantage through Hutton once more. Abraham – again linking to great effect – used the Scot. But his cross towards Kodjia at the far post was wayward, clearing the lower North.
After a brief spell of harmless Bolton possession. Grealish strolled through the Bolton midfield – showing glimpses of his best form. Using Adomah on the left side, the former Boro man failed to add any accuracy to a powerful effort as he dropped the shoulder on the flank.
Chester to the rescue
Whilst Villa where more efficient in front of goal, their slender advantage was remarkably retained by Chester. His defensive awareness was equally impressive as his acrobatic clearance off Nyland’s goal line. Jack Hobbs was the Bolton man who rose highest at the back post to head Erhun Oztumer’s free-kick, goal-ward.
Chester – saving a goal at one end – could’ve added one at the other. He headed in a Hourihane free-kick from the left flank. Yet, the Welshman was flagged offside to somewhat dampen Villa Park spirits at the interval.
The hosts almost grabbed a second in a quicker fashion they did their first. However, Abraham failed to convert a Kodjia cross.
Although, Villa’s defensive frailties almost cost them a goal moments later. Craig Noone arrived at the far post only to be denied by Orjan Nyland’s outstretched leg. After Andrew Taylor’s cross caused problems.
Bolton’s Taylor was then too keen to pinch the ball from John McGinn’s toes on the hour mark. Grealish and Hourihane both stood over the dead ball.
Chester then turned the ball in yards out. After a superb in-swinging delivery from Grealish, leaving Alnwick stranded on his goal line.
The hosts smelt blood, not giving Bolton an inch to breathe. Adomah almost sensationally added a third. Reaching Abraham’s header before using a bicycle kick technique to trouble the Wanderers goal.
Amongst the eye-catching skill and power on show from substitute Yannick Bolasie, it was Tuanzebe’s contributions at the other end which got the Villa Park applause.
The Manchester United loanee read Christian Doidge’s movement which allowed the forward to create a one on one opportunity against Nyland. Recovering well, Axel got a toe on the ball, preserving a second clean sheet in four for Smith’s Villa side.