The visitors Villa originally took the lead when £24 million-rated striker Darren Bent was put through on goal by Ashley Young and the centre forward made no mistake with the finish when he poked home his third Villa goal of the season past the reach of Jussi Jaaskelainen.
It was ex-Villa defender Gary Cahill who came back to haunt his side however when he headed an equaliser right on the stroke of half-time against his old club to put Bolton Wanderers well and truely back in the fray.
Again Villa restored their lead when young winger Marc Albrighton connected with a dangerous Stewart Downing cross to volley home the visitors’ second of the tie.
It should have been game, set, match when Ashley Young was brought down in the box by David Wheater just moments later but the midfielder was unable to convert his penalty from the spot and found his attempt tipped away by the impressive Jaaskelainen.
It was the ex-Villa man Cahill who struck again to put Bolton back on level terms for a second time when he was able to head home a Martin Petrov corner on 75 minutes.
Just when the tie looked to end all-square, super-sub Ivan Klasnic came off the bench to bag the winning goal after he was able to latch on to a Kevin Davies’ knock-down and smash home from 14 yards with a typical strikers finish.
Bolton see themselves sitting pretty in 6th position in the Premier League table after their win this evening but in truth a victory was no mean feat considering their opponents extended spells of pressure in the second half.
It’s true to say Gerard Houllier’s men will certainly feel aggrieved they were not able to snatch at least a draw from the Reebok Stadium this evening.
Villa’s loss will no doubt raise questions over manager Houllier’s weakened team selection for their FA Cup defeat against Manchester City last week, as his side weren’t able to capitalise at the Reebok this afternoon, despite fielding a full-strength squad of rested players including Ashley Young, Stewart Downing and Darren Bent.