Dave Woodhall on three welcome points for Villa.
It hadn’t been a good week for the Villa. The fall-out from the Manchester United defeat was still reverberating and wasn’t helped by news that Jermaine Jenas might be out for the rest of the season, but his wages still lingered. £45,000 a week seems to be the going rate for a Premier League squad player now and I don’t know whether the Jenas deal was a standard one or might be covered by insurance but it was still more bad news at a time when the club is struggling to project a positive image.
And so to the Reebok Stadium, and well done to the Villa supporters who despite all the negative headlines had sold out our allocation a fortnight before Christmas. Like the Manchester United game they were rewarded with news of an attacking line-up but unlike the previous Saturday the adventurous intent lasted longer than it took for Phil Dowd to blow his whistle.
Two attacking wide men, the team passing to each other and repeated crossing of the halfway line. It was a pleasant surprise and it gained its deserved reward with two goals in quick succession. Marc Albrighton deserved his strike for a promising display while Stilyan Petrov’s thirty-yarder (does he ever score from close range) had a helping hand from Gary Cahill. Talking of whom, for all the transfer talk since he was sold by Martin O’Neill he’s still at Bolton.
The second half was a bit of a struggle, with the team reverting to type for periods and paying far too deeply. Then again, it’s rare to outplay a home team for the entire 90 minutes and although Bolton pulled a goal back they didn’t really look like equalising. Indeed, the best chance after that fell to Darren Bent, who is still to regain his full form this season.
Three points, the first away win of the campaign and a good end to a not very good week. Good performances from just about everyone in the side and the only downside a booking for Gabby Agbonlahor which means he misses the Liverpool game on Sunday. We’ll play better teams than Bolton – indeed, we could hardly play many worse – but as one of the oldest sayings in football goes, you can only beat what’s in front of you. Alex picked a team to win the game, they played well and won it. Maybe things aren’t as bad as they’ve been painted after all.