2017/18 English League Championship, Regular Season
  • Adam Le Fondre (19')

Adam Le Fondre snatches Bolton a much-needed win

Adam Le Fondre's first-half goal was enough to earn Bolton a vital Sky Bet Championship win to boost their survival hopes while denting Aston Villa's automatic promotion ambitions.
Striker Le Fondre scored after 19 minutes at a snowy Macron Stadium as Steve Bruce's side slipped to a second successive defeat.
The visitors had plenty of possession but Lewis Grabban and substitute Scott Hogan wasted great opportunities to secure at least a point.
Bolton kicked off knowing a point would be enough to lift them one place up the table.
The unexpected win took the Trotters above Reading and into 19th place and also means Phil Parkinson's side are six points ahead of third-bottom Birmingham, whose earlier win over Hull put extra pressure on Bolton.
In contrast, Villa's surge for the two top stalled again after a midweek home defeat to QPR.
After a flying start in which they forced three corners in the opening 90 seconds, Bolton went in front.
From another corner delivered by Sammy Ameobi, Darren Pratley flicked on and Le Fondre side-footed in from four yards.
Pratley then had a goal-bound shot blocked before he was forced to leave the action. Doubtful before the game with a dead leg, he limped off after 26 minutes to be replaced by Josh Vela.
In between, Jack Grealish produced a stunning left-foot volley from 25 yards which goalkeeper Ben Alnwick did well to push over the top.
Robert Snodgrass and Karl Henry were booked after a skirmish on the halfway line following a solid challenge on Birkir Bjarnason.
With Grealish enjoying greater influence, Villa could have levelled.
Albert Adomah headed wide after a great cross from Grabban, while Alnwick scrambled a Grabban shot around the post.
Bolton had not manufactured many other goalscoring opportunities since Le Fondre's fourth goal of the season.
But there was some respite when Ameobi forced Sam Johnstone into a save from a 30-yard free-kick after 37 minutes.
Villa had strong penalty claims for handball turned down by referee Rob Jones as Bolton reached half-time with their lead intact.
Villa started the second half on top but could not find a way past a resolute home defence.
And Le Fondre could have eased home nerves when put through with only Johnstone to beat.
Fortunately his wasted chance did not prove costly as Alnwick came to the rescue with a stoppage-time save to deny defender James Bree.

English League Championship Standings

1 Norwich City 21 +14 43
2 Leeds United 21 +17 42
3 Sheffield United 21 +10 37
4 Derby County 21 +7 37
5 West Bromwich Albion 21 +14 36
6 Middlesbrough 21 +9 36
7 Nottingham Forest 21 +10 34
8 Aston Villa 21 +9 32
9 Birmingham City 21 +5 30
10 Stoke City 21 +2 30
11 Blackburn Rovers 21 -4 30
12 Swansea City 21 +2 29
13 Bristol City 21 +1 29
14 Queens Park Rangers 21 -6 28
15 Preston North End 21 -3 25
16 Wigan Athletic 21 -6 25
17 Sheffield Wednesday 21 -11 24
18 Brentford 21 +1 22
19 Hull City 21 -9 21
20 Rotherham United 21 -11 21
21 Millwall 21 -9 19
22 Reading 21 -8 18
23 Bolton Wanderers 21 -14 18
24 Ipswich Town 21 -20 11