BOLTON 1-0 Aston Villa
Ricketts 55 (pen)

Jaaskelainen, Whitlow, Ngotty, Bergsson, Charlton, Warhurst, Frandsen, Nolan DjorkaeffPedersen, Ricketts
Encklam, Delaney, Mellberg, Staunton, Wright, Hendrie, Kinsella, Barry, Vassell, Angel, Crouch
MendyBarness (Warhurst 39), Holdsworth, Gardner (Charlton 32) , Poole
De La Cruz (Vassell 45), Samuel (Wright 64), Allback (Crouch 64), Hitzlsperger, Postma
Yellow : Pedersen 77, Ricketts 82
Yellow : Enckleman 54, Angel 6, Hendie 85
Michael Rickett's Goal
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I didn't get to see the Charlton game the previous weekend but I was told Bolton were awful. Results since have suggested that people were maybe underestimating Charlton a little but it is undoubtedly true that Bolton failed to perform adequately on that day. From what the people around me were saying, Sunday's (a 2PM kickoff too. Good grief) game was a fair improvement.

Nolan was restored to the starting line up and seemed to have a point to prove after being dropped. He flagged towards the end on a very hot afternon (maybe 30 degrees centigrade in on the pitch) but his contribution was still evident, especially in the first half were Villa were providing a very agressive chalenge in midfield. Rather over-agressive perhaps, as Bolton's physio was on the pitch maybe 6 times during the game and Charlton and Warhurst (with a head injury) had to come off in the first half. Despite the disruption, Bolton had the better of the first half with Villa getting only one effort near goal whereas Bolton created numerous chances, including a long shot from Warhurst that had to be tipped over and Djorkaeff putting a looping header inches wide.

The second half had barely kicked off when we thought Pedersen had put the ball in the net, only for the goal to be ruled out (correctly as it happened) as he had handled the ball. Pedersen works hard and is a definite asset to the team but he is suffering from a simple inability to put the ball int he net, putting one chance inches wide frorm only about 5 yards out. He made up for it 5 minutes later when he ran onto a Djorkaeff through ball and was tumbled over by Enckelman. Ricketts took one of his trademark shambling penalties and Bolton were ahead. The goal inspired Ricketts who had one of th ebest games for some time in a Bolton shirt, even to the point where he wasa booked for a manically optimisticly timed sliding tackle on Mark Delaney. He had two efforts that just wouldn't sit to get the finsihing touch on and one effort just over the bar from a tight angle. THings weren't entirely one way though - Angel had the ball in the net only for it to be ruled out for a marginal offside and Jaaskelainen had to show good reactions to beat away a shot by Samuel that deflected wickedly off Bergsson.

So in the end Bolton had the three pounts, their first of the season. The performance was worth a win against an admittedly lacklustre Villa side. Plenty of work remains to be done though. The defense needs to tighten up back to the miserly standard of the beginning of last season and more chances must be converted. Also the striukers need to be quicker to take advantage of Djorkaeff's vision and passing ability. There is enough to see that Bolton have the parts of a very decent premiership side, but at the moment the parts are not quite all fitted together. Given we now have games against Liverpool, Man United and Arsenal coming up which no-one might expect us to take points from, perhaps these games offer a chance to work on fitting the jigsaw together in the hope of more points later in the season.