Date: 11th December 2005 at 11:23am
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Well, I didn’t give us a prayer before the game following some very average performances this season, but in fairness to the manager, he set out his stall for containment and containment is what we got. I’d have been happy with a draw before the game and I was happy with the draw after it! This was the same team that ran rings around Arsenal and beat them 2-0 last weekend remember.

By all accounts, the game was never going to be pretty – and so it proved! There were certainly only very limited attacking opportunities for Villa and with Baros the lone striker, it was obvious that the first priority was not to lose the game. With this seasons form and the pressure on the manager, I’m not sure we can really blame him for deploying five across midfield although in the second half it might not have hurt to show a bit more ambition. Still, job done, one more point in the bank, one more point away from the relegation battle.

As O’Leary said, Bolton is one of the hardest places to go to these days and having only conceded one league goal this season before Angel popped up with a timely retort to Diouf’s 82nd minute goal, you have to say that Villa did well. Especially when you realise Bolton were looking for their 10th win in a row. It’s funny, when Villa ‘should’ win they don’t, when you write them off, they do!

Diouf – booed all afternoon by the Villa fans – finished well to put Bolton ahead on 82 mins following some excellent work and a cross by Vaz Te. That, you would have thought, was that. Luke Moore had been brought on for Baros in the 76th minute, with O’Leary sticking to the loan striker system. But once we went a goal down Angel was brought on and sure enough, Lukey boy did some excellent work in the box, out muscling their defender and getting the ball straight to Angel who will still probably not believe that the Bolton players allowed him – in the six yard box – two touches and a goal. I’m sure Big Sam Allardyce will be having words about that!

Bolton nearly broke the Villa faithful’s hearts in the dying minutes when Vaz Te broke through the defence only to be thwarted by Sorenson, but the game ended honours even and Villa would have been the happier of the two teams with that.

The stats tell a decent story: Click Here For Stats
Especially the 7 shots on target Bolton had compared to our 3.

Big Sam bemoaned the fact Villa were restricted to very few chances throughout the game, O’Leary was delighted with the point. I guess the debate amongst Villa fans is whether we really should be delighted with a point or whether – with a bit more adventure – we could have pushed for a win?!

Player Ratings

Sorenson 7
Flapped for one chance that was then well saved by Bouma, but on the whole, made some match winning saves.

Hughes 7
Mr Ronseal. Does exactly what it says on the tin. No wonder the Newcastle fans were fed up when he was allowed to leave.

Bouma 7
Saved a sure goal by taking the ball from the feet of Kevin Davis. Starting to look more settled.

Mellberg 7
Back to the rock.

Ridgewell 6
Doing ok, but still giving away silly free kicks.

Hendrie 6
Not a bad contribution.

McCann 7
Getting back to the solid midfielder we need.

Bakke 7
Ian Taylor (commentating for BRMB) said he was man of the match. Who are we to argue? As he gains match fitness, he could prove very useful.

Barry 6
Not the man of the match heroics of the week before, but still solid.

Milner 6
Yup! Can’t moan at his contribution and I say it every time, I wish he was ours!

Baros 6
Starved of supply, as are all our strikers.

Moore (on for Baros 76) 7
A 7 for providing the goal.

Angel (on for Hendrie 84) 7
A 7 for scoring it!
Had a rest today, be interesting to see if he is straight back into the team to face Man Utd at home next week.

Manager Rating
Two points from two difficult away games (Newcaslte and Bolton). Set his stall out and got the draw. Dangerous tactics mind you!

Opponent Rating
Big Sam won’t be pleased with the time Angel was given in the six yard box.