Aston Villa held to 1-1 draw at home to Bolton
New Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier watched from the stands as Villa was held to a 1-1 draw by Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League on Saturday.
England winger Ashley Young gave Villa the lead with a free kick after 13 minutes, but Bolton equalized 10 minutes before halftime at Villa Park with a close-range goal from striker Kevin Davies.
It was caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald's final match in charge before Houllier, the French former coach of Liverpool, officially takes over on Monday.
Before kick-off, Houllier confirmed the makeup of his backroom staff, announcing Gary McAllister as assistant and the former Villa player Gordon Cowans, who was youth coach, as first-team coach.
MacDonald, who will revert to the role of reserve coach, confirmed Houllier had taken the opportunity to introduce himself to his new team on Saturday. ''Mr Houllier went down to see the players, to introduce himself and some of his (backroom) team, and I'll be seeing him tomorrow morning to have a chat about things,'' MacDonald said on the Press Association.
''With Mr Houllier having watched Monday's game (a 2-1 defeat at Stoke) and today's match he knows there is something to work with.''
MacDonald inherited the Villa job temporarily after Martin O'Neill's exit on the eve of the season. ''We've worked very hard, conducted ourselves fairly well, and not just myself,'' MacDonald said, referring to his backroom staff.
''Six weeks ago nobody knew me, but six weeks later I can say I was interviewed for one of the major jobs in the Premier League along with Gerard Houllier, Sven-Goran Eriksson and Alan Curbishley. So I think I've come a long way in that six weeks.''
The point shared left Villa on seven points and Bolton on six, both from five games.
Villa had scored 13 goals against Bolton in its past three matches at Villa Park, and the home side almost extended that streak within two minutes. The midfielder Marc Albrighton curled in a cross-cum-shot that brought a fingertip save from Bolton keeper Adam Bogdan, deputising again for the suspended Jussi Jaaskelainen.
In a bright opening, the visitors themselves went close two minutes later, when Davies bent a right-foot shot narrowly beyond American keeper Brad Friedel's left-hand upright.
Young made the breakthrough after 13 minutes. After being fouled by Fabrice Muamba, Young picked himself up to curl a direct free kick around Bolton's defensive wall - Young's first goal since he scored the winner against Wanderers in April.
As cheers rang around Villa Park, Young turned, pointed towards an applauding MacDonald and ran to the Scot on the touchline, where he gave him a bear hug.
With Villa's intensity waning, Bolton capitalized and produced a superb equaliser in the 35th minute.
From the right wing Stuart Holden delivered a ball to the far post that was held up by Martin Petrov, before he found Davies on the edge of the six-yard box. With Villa's defense nowhere, Davies was allowed to turn and rifle a left-foot shot into the roof of the net for his second strike of the season.
Villa made a confident start to the second half, with former Manchester City midfielder Stephen Ireland grazing Bogdan's post and winger Stewart Downing forcing a smart save.
But Bolton responded again, and Friedel had to save from Holden and Matthew Taylor to keep Villa in it and ease the club's run of three defeats from four games.
''If truth be told I feel a little bit hard done by not to leave with all three points,'' said Owen Coyle, the Bolton manager.
''Given how everything conspired against us last week (in a 4-1 defeat at Arsenal), I was looking for a response, for us to bounce back, and we did that.''