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  • Aston Villa 1-1 Bolton: Ashley Young great free-kick

    Aston Villa were held to a 1-1 draw by Bolton at Villa Park in the final game of Kevin MacDonald's tenure in charge of the Midlands club.
    The caretaker manager, who took over following Martin O'Neill's shock resignation just before the Premier League season started, appeared to be on course to hand over control to Gerard Houllier on a winning note after Ashley Young put the hosts into an early lead.

    It was Young's fifth in his last five games against Bolton, but Kevin Davies cancelled out his strike on 35 minutes to earn the Trotters a well-deserved point - a tonic for boss Owen Coyle whose side had slumped to a 4-1 defeat at Arsenal a week earlier.

    Indeed, it could easily have been an even more rewarding afternoon for the visitors, who enjoyed the better of the closing stages and would have grabbed a late winner were it not for some late heroics from Villa keeper Brad Friedel.

    For MacDonald, it was far from the ideal way to sign off, and his team were booed from the pitch ahead of Houllier assuming full control on Monday.

    But with the incoming Frenchman and his new assistant Gary McAllister watching on from the directors' box, Villa actually started brightly, giving cause for encouragement to their new boss.

    Particularly impressive was young winger Mark Albrighton, who gave his far more experienced marker Paul Robinson a torrid time early on in the game with his pace, direct running and no small measure of skill.

    Villa made their superior possession count in the 13th minute, Ashley Young bending a free-kick around the Bolton wall and past the flailing Adam Bogdan, who was again deputising for the suspended Jussi Jaaskalainen in goal.

    Stewart Downing sent a similar effort just the wrong side of the other post six minutes later but Villa could not extend their advantage while in the ascendancy - and that failure came back to bite them as Bolton slowly inched back into the game.

    Davies had already proved his menace with a brilliant turn and shot on the break that whistled just wide of Brad Friedel's upright in the fifth minute, before he pounced with an equaliser of the highest quality.

    The Bolton skipper took one touch to control Martin Petrov's cross and another to hammer it into the roof of the net on 35 minutes, finishing off an impressive passing also involving Chung-Yong Lee and Stuart Holden.

    Having come from behind, Bolton boss Owen Coyle would have been the happier at the break but he nearly saw his side concede again soon after the restart when Stephen Ireland sent a curling shot just wide of the post following a scintillating run from midfield.

    Downing then went close for a second time on the day, his crisp strike proving too hot to handle for Bogdan, who had to be quick to pounce on his initial fumble with Gabriel Agbonlahor lurking.

    Villa were again on top, but Albrighton's influence was fading and again they eased off the gas, nearly allowing Bolton to capitalise.

    That they did not had much to do with their American keeper Friedel, who made a brilliant save from Martin Petrov on 62 minutes before his compatriot Stuart Holden saw his effort repelled.

    Substitute Matthew Taylor then forced another super save from Friedel, low down to his left from a free-kick, before Johan Elmander was denied a great chance with just four minutes remaining.
    Mike Hytner / Eurosport

    Team Line-up:
    Aston Villa: Friedel, Luke Young, Collins, Dunne, Warnock, Petrov, Albrighton, Ireland, Downing, Ashley Young, Agbonlahor. Subs: Guzan, Carew, Heskey, Reo-Coker, Clark, Cuellar, Bannan

    Bogdan, Steinsson, Knight, Andrew O'Brien, Robinson, Petrov, Muamba, Holden, Lee, Kevin Davies, Elmander. Subs: Lainton, Taylor, Mark Davies, Klasnic, Ricketts, Moreno, Blake


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