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Smith urges Villa to continue historic winning run

Dean Smith challenged his players to keep on winning after second-half goals from Jack Grealish and Tammy Abraham gave Aston Villa a 2-0 Sky Bet Championship victory that relegated Bolton to League One.

Villa’s latest success was their ninth in a row to equal a club record last achieved 109 years ago.

“No living person will have seen the last run so I am proud of the players,” said manager Smith.

“Now we have to go all-out and try and break the record against Millwall on Monday.

“It will be a tough game and I have full respect for Neil Harris, who has done well there.

“However, if we can get the better of them, what better place than in front of a full house at Villa Park.

“We are very motivated to keep the run going and you could see that from the players. They were disappointed at half-time with how we were performing.

“We have three regular league games to go so hopefully we can have a winning end to the season.”

Smith admitted Villa were not great in the opening period, saying: “We dominated possession but credit to them they made it difficult for us.

“I spoke to the players at half-time about taking less touches and quickening it up.

“For 20 minutes at the start of the second half I thought we were exceptional. Whoever we would have played against we would have scored a couple of goals and we saw the game out comfortably from there.”

Smith, however, confirmed top scorer Abraham is likely to miss the Millwall clash with a shoulder injury suffered in the act of scoring.

Bolton’s new owner Laurence Bassini watched his team for the first time after agreeing a deal to buy the club from Ken Anderson.

“It’s a disappointing day for the club but in recent weeks and months we have been adrift in that bottom three,” said manager Phil Parkinson.

“It’s been a chaotic year, in fact a chaotic three years when you look back.

“This year the problems have weighed everyone down too much. We were already competing in a division with limited resources with no money to spend on bringing in fresh blood.

“The club now has to regroup, bounce back with a new owner which I think is great news for the club.

“Mr Bassini has a lot of work to be done building the structure of the club, not just the football side, but in all departments to get the club ready to be stronger than it is today.

“It is going to be an exciting challenge ahead for him to do that.

“I had a good chat with him on the phone on Friday night. He popped in to wish the lads all the best and introduce himself today.

“This is a tremendous football club that has been in the news for all the wrong reasons too many times.

“From here on in Bolton has got to start building back its credibility in the football world and improving its image.”