By Dan Harrison
Villa's reserves were edged out by Bolton after Michael O'Halloran grabbed a second-half winner for the home team.
The 62nd minute strike ensured a fourth straight defeat for Kevin MacDonald's men who had hoped to capitalise on league leaders Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Wigan earlier in the day.
But the Villa side, containing Stephen Warnock and Habib Beye, were unable to break Bolton's resistance.
A major positive for the boys in claret and blue was the performance of Swiss goalkeeper Benjamin Siegrist on his first appearance for the second string this season.
With Elliot Parish and Brad Guzan out on loan it gave the 19-year-old a chance to step up to the plate - and he produced several excellent saves in a first-half which the Trotters just shaded.
Siegrist dived to his right to make a fine two-handed stop from Joe Riley's curling free-kick, while he stood tall to thwart Maison McGeechan who latched on to an incisive ball from Ton Eaves.
There was a huge let-off for Villa on 37 minutes when Mark Connolly's angled half-volley from just outside the six-yard box crashed off the underside of the bar and then bounced off the line to safety.
Although Villa enjoyed plenty of possession, the visitors were restricted to mainly half-chances.
Durrell Berry and Harry Forrester both thrashed efforts across goal while Darious Darkin shot straight at Rob Lainton after cutting in from the left.
Early in the second-half Chris Herd saw his powerful header cleared from the goalmouth by Adam Blakeman while, for Bolton, Tope Obadeyi fired just over with two speculative long-range attempts.
When the deadlock was finally broken on 62 minutes, it was the threatening Obadeyi who orchestrated the move.
He slotted O'Halloran through after a strong run through the central ground. O'Halloran motored into space in the box and fired high into the net.
Five minutes later, Siegrist made a fingertip save to deny Tom Eaves, who met Obadeyi's left-wing cross.
Beye went for goal with a 30-yard half-volley but narrowly missed the target.
Eight minutes from time, Bolton were reduced to 10-men when Josh Vela received a second booking for hacking down substitute Courtney Cameron.
The sending off galvanised Villa, who went close when Beye flicked on Daniel Johnson's corner only to see his header cleared off the line.
And Forrester went agonisingly close in the final minute of normal time when his angled left-foot shot went just wide across goal after he raced on to Warnock's defence-splitting pass.
BOLTON: Lainton, Riley, McQuade, Dennis, Connolly, Blakeman, McGeechan, Vela, Eaves, O'Halloran, Obadeyi. Subs: Sheridan (for Eaves, 83), Lynch, Irwin (for McQuade, 86), Sampson, Threlkeld (for Riley, 52).
VILLA: Siegrist, Herd, Deeney, Johnson, Devine, Beye, Berry, Forrester, Taylor, Warnock, Darkin. Subs: Nelson-Addy, Barrett, Juan Serrano (for Taylor, 77), Cameron (for Darkin, HT), Donacien (for Devine, 77).