U21s: Aston Villa 3-0 Bolton

Young Whites come unstuck against experienced Aston Villa side.


Zach Clough missed a second-half penalty as Wanderers fell to a 3-0 defeat against an experienced Aston Villa side, featuring the likes of Christian Benteke, Joe Cole and Shay Given, at the Midlands club’s Bodymoor Heath training ground.

Benteke fired the hosts into the lead on the half-hour mark from the penalty spot before Cole doubled his side’s lead ten minutes after the restart.

Clough and Rob Hall tested Given on numerous occasions during the second half, but the Whites’ fate was sealed late on when Thomas Stain tapped home Jack Grealish’s low cross.


Fresh from scoring two goals in Wanderers’ last U21s match, Rob Hall started on the right wing, while Andy Hughes lined up at right-back.

There was another start for Max Clayton on the opposite flank, while captain Georg Iliev led the attack with Zach Clough just behind him. 


Wanderers started the game brightly with Zach Clough and Max Clayton combining well to win an early corner after the latter found space in the box only to see his effort on goal deflected behind.

At the other end, Villa created their opening chance of the game after Christian Benteke played in Jack Grealish, however the Ireland U21s international was unable to test Ross Fitzsimons as he could only strike into the side-netting.

Villa were on the attack again moments later after Courtney Wildin received the ball in the box, but Fitzsimons did well to deny him, getting down low the keep out the full-back’s effort at his near post.

Following a good spell of Whites’ possession, Rob Hall had their next shot on goal after receiving the ball on the edge of the area, but the winger was unable to hit the target with a curled effort after getting the ball out from under his feet.

Riccarder Calder, Joe Cole and Grealish all tried their luck from distance with varying degrees of success as Villa continued to press, before Bolton did fall behind after Andy Hughes handled in the penalty area.

Benteke stepped up to take the spot-kick for Villa, dummying in his run-up before sending Fitzsimons the wrong way to give his side the lead.

The Trotters almost found themselves two goals behind moments later after Grealish embarked on a solo run from the left. 

Cutting in from the flank, the midfielder evaded a number of challenges as he weaved his way into the area, only to smash his strike against the crossbar when he did finally unleash a shot, leaving Wanderers fortunate to just be a goal down as the two sides went in at the break.


The Whites quickly found themselves on the back foot after the restart with it not taking Villa long to double the lead courtesy of Cole.

Receiving the ball on the edge of the Bolton penalty area, the former England international looked up before taking the ball onto his weaker left foot and curling the ball past Fitzsimons into the top left-hand corner.

Channing Campbell-Young and Kaiyne Woolery come on for Alex Perry and Georg Illiev moments later was the Trotters fought to find a way back into the game, with the latter arrival almost making an immediate impact.

Finding himself in space, Woolery sprinted into the Villa penalty area only to find his path to goal blocked. Feeding the ball back to Clough, the Wanderers’ number ten tried to beat Shay Given with a first-time effort only to fire his strike straight at the Republic of Ireland international.

The Whites were presented with the perfect opportunity to halve the deficit moments later after Henry Cowans brought down Clough in the box. 

However, with the forward himself stepping up to take the spot-kick, he could only blaze his effort harmlessly over the bar.

Bolton continued to press with Hall twice running into the area before trying his luck, only to be denied by Given on both occasions. 

And the Trotters were soon made to curse their missed chances as Villa scored their third late on.

After receiving the ball out on left, Grealish dribbled across the pitch from one flank to the other before whipping in a low cross, allowing substitute Thomas Strain to tap home at the far post and seal the win for Villa.

Despite half-hearted attempts by Wanderers for a late consolation, Villa held on as the young Whites headed back BL6 with nothing to show for their efforts against their more-experienced counterparts.



Wanderers: Fitzsimons, Maher, Perry (Campbell-Young 57), Finney, Taylor, Hughes, Clayton (Lester 72), Vela, Illiev (Woolery 57), Clough, Hall.

Unused subs: Sellers, Campbell.

Aston Villa: Given, Leggett, Wildin, Cowans, Okore, Toner (Webb 76), Sellars, Calder, Benteke (Strain 64), Cole, Grealish.

Unused subs: Watkins, Crooks, Abdo.
Read Time: 4 mins