Bolton Wanderers fell to a late defeat against Aston Villa on Monday night, as long-range strikes from Graham Burke and Harry McKirdy sealed the points for the visitors.
Controlling proceedings for the majority of the match, the Whites were unfortunate not take the lead with their best chances falling to Hayden White and Kaiyne Woolery in each half, with the duo unable to find a way past Villa goalkeeper Craig Hill.
And Bolton were made to rue their missed opportunities in the game’s dying embers as Burke found the top corner from the edge of the area before substitute McKirdy fired past Ross Fitzsimons with an unstoppable strike in stoppage-time.
Ross Fitzsimons returned in goal as Bolton Wanderers made five changes to the side that beat Manchester United last week.
There were recalls for Tom Eaves, Alex Finney and Oscar Threlkeld while Aaron Birch was also named in the Whites’ starting XI.
In what was a lively start for both sides, Bolton Wanderers and Aston Villa each spurned good opportunities to open the scoring in what was an explosive start to the match inside the opening ten minutes.
Villa were the first to go close with first-team regular Jack Grealish, who would prove to be a continued nuisance down the left-hand side as the half wore on, the creator after breaking into the Whites’ area down the left-hand side.
Whipping in a low ball across goal to Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, the forward was unable to keep his first-time side-footed effort down, much to the relief of the Bolton back-line.
Awakened by their early scare, the Trotters immediately went close at the other end as Aaron Birch found Georg Iliev with a low corner. However, the forward was unable to direct his strike goalwards as it went wide at the near post.
Villa goalkeeper Craig Hill had to be alert to deny Wanderers soon after as a Tom Eaves’ low cross was teed up to Hayden White on the edge of the area.
Connecting with a sweet right-footed strike, the defender’s powerful effort seemed destined for the top corner only for Hill to get fingertips to it and push it behind.
Cutting in from the left midway through the half, Grealish managed to evade a couple of Whites’ challenges before trying his luck from range with Villa’s next major opportunity, only to see it deflected off-target.
Grealish was in the thick of the action once more as Villa once again went close shortly after the half-hour mark as Hepburn-Murphy dummied his clever pass across goal, allowing it find Graham Burke in space at the far post. However, the winger lacked composure as he shot wildly off-target.
At the other end, Bolton were almost gifted the lead as Hill failed to connect with the ball after rushing off his line to clear when under pressure from Eaves, only for the keeper clear at the second attempt after the ball failed to fall kindly for the forward.
The Trotters went close again just before the break as Ryan Sellers burst down the left, showing a great turn of pace to lose his man before playing the ball back to Georg Iliev.
Connecting well with a first-time side-footed strike from the edge of the box, the forward was unfortunate to see his shot deflected wide of goal as the two sides went in at the break with the scores goalless.
Continuing to experiment with low corners, Wanderers created the first major opportunity of the second half as Sellers found Eaves with the set-piece, only for the forward to shoot wide at the near post.
The Whites should have taken the lead with their very next attack as Oscar Threlkeld found Sellers with a quickly-taken free-kick down the left-hand side.
Crossing the ball for Woolery inside the six-yard box, the forward could only head straight at Hill from point-blank range.
Bolton went close from another corner just after the hour-mark with Eaves rising highest to connect at the near post, however, he was unable to guide his powerful header goalwards.
At the other end, Jerrell Sellars also handed his side the lead in the most fortunate of circumstances as White blocked his shot across goal, only to see it spin narrowly wide with Fitzsimons left scrambling.
Despite barely threatening from the restart, Villa took the lead soon after through a moment of magic from Burke.
Receiving the ball on the edge of the area, the winger looked up before firing an unstoppable strike across goal into the top left-hand corner, leaving Ross Fitzsimons no chance.
Substitute Harry McKirdy sealed the points for the visitors in stoppage-time with another memorable goal from distance, unleashing a strike which cannoned in off the underside of the crossbar.
And with limited time left on the clock, Bolton were unable to fight back as fell to their second successive league defeat.
Bolton: Fitzsimons, Holding, Sellers, Taylor, Finney, White, Woolery, Threlkeld, Eaves, Iliev (Woodland 64), Birch (Lester 81).
Unused subs: Campbell, Ball, Campbell-Young.
Aston Villa: Hill, Leggett, Kinsella (Webb 40), Hale (Green 78), Lyons-Foster, Toner, Burke, Calder, Hepburn-Murphy (McKirdy 82), Sellars, Grealish.
Unused subs: Bannister, Wildin.