Bolton Wanderers 1 Aston Villa 2: We dug deep – Alex McLeish

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish was delighted with his side's desire as they secured their first away victory of the campaign

Premier League, 10 December 2011, Reebok Stadium
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Bolton
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Aston Villa

Alex McLeish praised Aston Villa’s “mental toughness” after they secure their first away victory of the season against Bolton Wanderers.

First half goals from Marc Albrighton and Stiliyan Petrov were sufficient to hand Villa a vital three points after last weekend’s 1-0 defeat by Manchester United.

Ivan Klasnic scored a 55th minute strike to raise Bolton’s hopes but McLeish’s side clung on to move up to eighth in the Premier League table.

“I’m delighted to get the first away win of the season,” McLeish said. “It’s been a long time coming – we have thrown away a couple of opportunities, so well done to the players for digging deep at the end under a barrage of Bolton attacks.

“It is credit to their mental toughness, and hopefully that is improving after capitulating at a couple of other away venues.”

However, the Villa manager warned his players there were still improvements to be made after Darren Bent and Petrov both squandered opportunities to cement the victory before Klasnic’s second-half goal.

“Bolton were always in it, and certainly were when they got the early goal in the second half,” said McLeish.

“We maybe switched off a wee bit in terms of the things we had been doing in the first half. But after they got that early goal, we were prepared for a battle.

“The first-half performance was very good. There were a couple of good goals, although we did miss two or three chances.”

Meanwhile, Bolton manager Owen Coyle expressed his dissatisfaction with his side’s defending and criticised his players’ attitudes as they succumbed to their 12th defeat of the season.

“Disappointment is an understatement, because we were at home and looking to win the game and start moving up the league,” Coyle said.

“It is a horrible feeling. I thought the game started evenly with two teams looking quite nervous, but then we conspired towards our own downfall.

“Aston Villa have some very good players, but we made four or five individual mistakes within the first goal – it was self-inflicted.

“Then you are looking for a reaction, for people to show a bit of guts, desire and hunger for the football club, but if the truth be told, for a few minutes, they looked as if they felt sorry for themselves, and that allowed Aston Villa to get a second goal.”

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