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Calls for Alex McLeish to resign as Aston Villa face drop after Bolton defeat

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BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24:  Aston Villa Manager Alex McLeish looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24: Aston Villa Manager Alex McLeish looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Laurence Griffiths

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24:  Chris Eagles of Bolton Wanderers hurdles the challenge of Carlos Cuellar of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24: Chris Eagles of Bolton Wanderers hurdles the challenge of Carlos Cuellar of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Michael Steele

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24:  Martin Petrov (R) of Bolton Wanderers and his team mates wear  T-shirts showing their support for Stiliyan Petrov prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24: Martin Petrov (R) of Bolton Wanderers and his team mates wear T-shirts showing their support for Stiliyan Petrov prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Laurence Griffiths

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24:  Kevin Davies of Bolton Wanderers goes up for a header with Stephen Warnock and Nathan Baker (R) of Aston Villa the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24: Kevin Davies of Bolton Wanderers goes up for a header with Stephen Warnock and Nathan Baker (R) of Aston Villa the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Laurence Griffiths

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24:  Martin Petrov of Bolton Wanderers celebrates scoring his team's first goal from a penalty with team mate Kevin Davies (L) during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24: Martin Petrov of Bolton Wanderers celebrates scoring his team's first goal from a penalty with team mate Kevin Davies (L) during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Laurence Griffiths

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24:   Shay Given of Aston Villa dives unsuccessfully to save the penalty kick of Martin Petrov of Bolton Wanderers during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24: Shay Given of Aston Villa dives unsuccessfully to save the penalty kick of Martin Petrov of Bolton Wanderers during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Laurence Griffiths

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24:  David Ngog of Bolton Wanderers celebrates with his team mates after scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24: David Ngog of Bolton Wanderers celebrates with his team mates after scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Laurence Griffiths

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24:   Stephen Warnock of Aston Villa  scores the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24: Stephen Warnock of Aston Villa scores the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Michael Steele

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24:  The big screen shows a message of support for Stiliyan Petrov during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24: The big screen shows a message of support for Stiliyan Petrov during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Laurence Griffiths

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24:  Chris Herd of Aston Villa competes with Nigel Reo-Coker of Bolton Wanderers during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24: Chris Herd of Aston Villa competes with Nigel Reo-Coker of Bolton Wanderers during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Michael Steele

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24:  David Ngog of Bolton Wanderers scores his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24: David Ngog of Bolton Wanderers scores his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Michael Steele

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24:  David Wheater (L) and Sam Ricketts of Bolton Wanderers celebrate at the end of the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24: David Wheater (L) and Sam Ricketts of Bolton Wanderers celebrate at the end of the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Laurence Griffiths

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24:  Stephen Warnock of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24: Stephen Warnock of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Michael Steele

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 24: Aston Villa Manager Alex McLeish looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on April 24, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Aston Villa 1 Bolton Wanderers 2: The prospect of relegation for the first time in 25 years looms larger for Aston Villa after a numbing defeat by one of their fellow stragglers.

Bolton, trailing to Stephen Warnock's goal just after the hour, responded with two of their own from a Martin Petrov penalty and David Ngog in the three minutes that followed, sparking calls from Villa's supporters for the sacking of manager Alex McLeish.



Villa, who have lost twice as many matches at Villa Park as they have won, now have the worst home record in their illustrious history. They could have opened an eight-point gap over the bottom three but instead lead 18th-placed Bolton by only three points, with the Lancashire side having a game in hand. Bolton, indeed, are now just a point adrift of QPR and Wigan.



This fixture looked destined not to take place at one time, having been postponed from its original Saturday date for TV coverage on a Sunday, then called off because Bolton were involved in the FA Cup that weekend, and cancelled again in the aftermath of Fabrice Muamba's cardiac arrest. So when the stadium was caught in a biblical deluge shortly before the game, pessimists wondered whether it might again be off.



The rain relented, at least until midway through the first half, and Villa had an early opportunity when Chris Herd rose to meet Charles N'Zogbia's corner kick with 52 seconds played. The Australian's header hit the roof rather than back of the net, but Villa's confidence appeared to be boosted.



Despite the nerve-shredding magnitude of the occasion, the Villa crowd joined in the applause the Bolton contingent began for their stricken but recovering No 6, Muamba, after six minutes. Owen Coyle's players had warmed up wearing "Stay Strong for Stan" T-shirts in solidarity with Villa's captain Stiliyan Petrov, who is undergoing treatment for acute leukaemia, and this time the visitors stand put their hands together.



The Villa faithful were less magnanimous towards Nigel Reo-Coker, a former claret-and-blue captain now leading Bolton, after a robust challenge, not penalised by Mr Foy, on Andreas Weimann. Bolton finally drew a save from Shay Given just after the half-hour, Ryo Miyaichi's shot ending a flowing move, but Villa came tantalisingly close as half-time approached.



First, Emile Heskey turned sharply and fired straight at Adam Bogdan. Then the marauding Alan Hutton cut the ball back for Warnock, whose 16-yard shot smacked the bar. As Bolton packed their area, Herd's goalbound drive was blocked by Tim Ream, soon followed by a Charles N'Zogbia free-kick which clipped the outside of the post. Coyle opted to use the experience and power of Kevin Davies for the second half.



For all the promise of Weimann, and Heskey's willingness to fight for the cause, it was not difficult to see why Villa have averaged barely a goal per game at home this season. At set-pieces, where the injured Richard Dunne and James Collins were once such a threat, they seldom produced the delivery to trouble Bogdan, but they at last found a way through from open play in the 61st minute.



N'Zogbia made it, his driving run burning off Sam Ricketts, and Warnock scored it, arriving on the edge of the six-yard box to steer home his second goal of the campaign.



Just 60 seconds later, though, Hutton was adjudged to have brought down Mark Davies, allowing Petrov to equalise from the spot. As Bolton pressed again, Chris Eagles' twisting run culminated in a pass which Ngog slid home.

Belfast Telegraph