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Match report: Villa Res 3-1 Bolton Res
Gary Gardner inspires second string to first victory.
21st Sep 2011
Match report: Villa Res 3-1 Bolton Res


By Dan Harrison at Hinckley

A midfield masterclass from Gary Gardner inspired Villa's reserves to a first victory of 2011-12.

Twenty-four hours after being named on the bench for the first team's Carling Cup clash with Bolton, Gardner scored one and had a big hand in a second as the claret and blues swept aside the Trotters' second string.

Graham Burke was the beneficiary of Gardner's menacing free-kick to put Villa two ahead while substitute Samir Carruthers rounded off the scoring with a superb half-volley to complete a terrific comeback.

Villa had an early blow to contend with as Josh Vela put the Trotters in front on two minutes with the first attack of the game - his 25-yard rocket looping over the helpless Benjamin Siegrist.

But the immediacy of the home team's response will have delighted coaches Kevin MacDonald and Sean Verity.

It seemed only a matter of time before Gardner got his name on the scoresheet, adding to his headed goal against Wigan at this venue last month.

A trip on the edge of the box by Rob Lainton denied the 19-year-old the classiest of solo efforts after he rode two tackles and glided towards goal.

Keeper Rob Lainton failed to hold Gardner's powerful drive from the resulting free-kick before the Trotters eventually scrambled the loose ball to safety.

And Lainton was called into action again moments later to push away an angled drive from Gardner.

On 29 minutes, the England U21 international rattled the crossbar after collecting Burke's through ball but within seconds he was on hand to fire across Lainton into the bottom corner after good work from Callum Robinson on the left flank.

Gardner continued to pull the strings after the break, his sublime cross-field ball picking out Jordan Graham who expertly controlled before crossing to the back post only for Courtney Cameron to miscue his header.

Robinson, one of three England U16 internationals in the starting XI along with Graham and full-back Josh Webb, led the line impressively and came close to scoring when his left-foot drive deflected into the side netting.

Persistence finally paid off for the boys in claret and blue on 64 minutes as Bolton failed to clear Gardner's right-wing free-kick, allowing Burke to power home a low shot from around eight yards.

There was a let-off for the hosts 10 minutes from time when substitute Dino Fazlic steered Topi Obadeyi's cutback onto the bar.

But it was a Villa replacement, Carruthers, who made sure of a first maximum haul of the season with an unstoppable left-foot half-volley from outside the box.

Villa's young guns return to Villa Park next Wednesday when they take on Fenerbahce in the prestigious NextGen Series.

VILLA: Siegrist, Webb, Williams, Donacien, Lowry, Graham, Gardner, Johnson, Cameron, Burke, Robinson. Subs: Carruthers [for Graham, 77], Barrett, Taylor, Caira [for Kinsella, 83], Kinsella [for Donacien, HT].

BOLTON: Lainton, Riley, McQuade, Connolly, Eckersley, Irwin, Odelusi, Vela, Sampson, O'Halloran, Obadeyi. Subs: McGregor [for Sampson, 61], Lynch, Fazlic [for Irwin, 61], Battersby, Dennis.

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