Bolton 1-0 Aston Villa

Last updated : 01 September 2002 By FootyMAD
Bolton's first win of the season - and their first in the Premiership since April - was as deserved as it was hard-fought, but the game did little to suggest that either side will enjoy a season of comfort.

A woeful first-half was littered with mistakes and injuries - worryingly for both Villa and England, Darius Vassell limping off - and Villa played second fiddle to a busy Bolton midfield.

Juan Pablo Angel had an effort ruled out for offside in the second period but even though Bolton gave them room to play, they were unable to capitalise.

Their only real chance came in injury time when home captain Gudni Bergsson almost deflected the ball into his own net.

Bolton's first-half performance was certainly an improvement on their opening two games of the season.

With Kevin Nolan restored to form an effective midfield partnership with Per Frandsen and Paul Warhurst, Bolton carved out a number of chances that caused the Villa defence some concern.

Warhurst was at the centre of two of them forcing Petr Enckelman to tip one shot over the bar before combining with Youri Djorkaeff before the Frenchman headed narrowly wide.

Bolton had also coped with most of what Villa had to offer although Darius Vassell shot into the sidenetting early on.

However, their rhythm was upset with injuries to Simon Charlton and the influential Warhurst, and both were replaced just after the half-hour mark.

Within a minute of the restart Henrik Pedersen bundled the ball into the net only for the effort to be disallowed for handball.

Just five minutes later Bolton did take the lead as Ricketts fired home his second penalty of the season after Villa keeper Enckelman had brought down Pedersen.

Villa had their share of bad luck when Angel put the ball into the net only to see it disallowed for offside but generally as the game went on the chances became scarcer.

However, four minutes from time Villa should have snatched the equaliser when Gareth Barry latched onto Steve Staunton's throughball before firing the ball straight across goal.

And in injury time Jussi Jaaskelainen had to pull off a superb reaction save after Bergsson almost deflected the ball into his own net.