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PREVIEW: Villa face tricky test to cement play-off place

Aston Villa will be hoping to strengthen their grip on a play-off place when they travel to Bolton on Saturday.

Newly promoted Bolton are sat in 20th position in their first season back in the Sky Bet Championship. The Trotters are six points ahead of those in the drop zone.

Villa sit in 3rd place in their second season in the division but are only just four points behind Cardiff City who occupy the final automatic promotion place.

Bolton have become a side hard to beat and their recent form would suggest that. One defeat in their last five suggests the improvements they are making under Phil Parkinson. Their last point coming in a 1-1 draw away at Sheffield Wednesday. George Boyd had put the Owls ahead late on but Aaron Wilbraham had other ideas. His 93rd minute equaliser saw Bolton escape with a point.

Aston Villa appeared to be in sensational form as they dispatched of both Sunderland and Wolves last week. The latter coming in a 4-1 win at Villa Park. However, a home defeat to lowly QPR has dented Steve Bruce’s hopes of automatic promotion.

James Chester’s late striker was nothing but a consolation as goals from Ryan Manning, Jake Bidwell and Luke Freeman saw the visitors leave the West Midlands with all the points.

It will be Villa looking to complete the double over their former Premier League rivals as the Villains were able to pick up a 1-0 win at Villa Park.

Jonathan Kodja scored a first half penalty to send the hosts on the road to three points.

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