Bolton fail to take their chances


Bolton 1 Aston Villa 1:Bolton may have a new man in charge in Gary Megson but it seems as if the same old problems remain.

They have forgotten how to win league games and lost their ability to hold on to a lead.

Former Leicester boss Megson saw his team make a bright start and make the breakthrough through Nicolas Anelka.

However it was Villa, without an away win on the road in the league, who finished the stronger.

With only one victory in 11 games these are desperate times for Bolton but at least they have a player in Anelka, who can change the face of a game in an instant.

The France striker delivered a marvellous free-kick from the edge of the area in the 21st minute and although Stuart Taylor got a hand to the ball he could not prevent it going into the net.  It was just the boost Megson was looking for in a bid to lift Bolton off the foot of the table.

Anelka almost added a second goal in the 27th minute when El-Hadji Diouf played the ball into his path. Instead of shooting first time, Anelka took a touch and tried to curl his effort beyond Taylor but it went narrowly wide of the post.

Bolton were setting the tempo and there was an urgency in their play that had been lacking in recent weeks.

Villa came out of their shell a minute before the break when Shaun Maloney cut inside the penalty area and cracked in a shot.

It was spilled by goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen but Bolton managed to scramble the ball away.

Villa boss Martin O'Neill decided to shake things up at the start of the second bringing on Patrik Berger and Moore for Isaiah Osbourne and Maloney.

However Martin Laursen put Taylor under pressure in the 54th minute with a careless back pass. Anelka quickly moved into position but the goalkeeper was alert enough to make the block.

Villa drew level in the 56th minute when Moore chested the ball in at the near post after Agbonlahor had played it in. It was an instinctive effort, Moore getting just ahead of Joey O'Brien to equalise.

With only one league win against Reading to their credit it was now Bolton's turn to look vulnerable and they were facing a test of character.

Megson made his first change in the 65th minute, bringing on Gary Speed for Ivan Campo in a bid to regain the momentum.

Anelka then set up Nolan in the six-yard area but the skipper scuffed his effort wide of the target.

Bolton should have regained the lead in the 84th minute following a scuffed clearance from Gareth Barry. Ricardo Gardner latched onto it and his effort was spilled by Taylor. However Diouf only succeeded in clearing the bar with his effort.

It was a good chance and this was another two points dropped at home by the struggling side. Megson clearly has a lot of work to do if he is to revitalise the side and win over a sceptical public.