Aston Villa 1-0 Newcastle United
A James Collins' header was enough to hand Aston Villa a crucial three points against fellow strugglers Newcastle at Villa Park.
Villa were hammered 6-0 by the Magpies at the start of the season but revenge was never really the home side's motivation as they turned in a much improved defensive display to grind out a much needed result. Stewart Downing was the first to threaten forcing Steve Harper to run off his line and clear the ball on the edge of the box but Newcastle gradually took advantage of a lack of urgency in Villa's play. Joey Barton slammed a diving header over the bar from just inside the box, while Nile Ranger made an opening for himself in the 20th minutes, but Brad Friedel was the equal to his well crafted attempt. And within a minute, Newcastle were made to pay for that missed opportunity as Collins opened the scoring for Villa. Joey Barton conceded a free-kick out on the left wing and from Ashley Young's resultant delivery into the box, the big centre-back reacted smartly to glance a header past Harper and into the back of the Magpies' net. Further half chances fell to Villa before the linesman made a poor call just before the break, as the subdued Darren Bent saw a goal chalked off for offside, when he was clearly on. Villa were rightly furious about that decision and started the second half in a manner befitting of their desire to score a second goal and the visitors had their keeper to thank for keeping out efforts from Gabriel Agbonlahor and Young. Bent was also unfortunate not to win a penalty after going down under a clumsy challenge from Steven Taylor inside the box. Newcastle were lacking a cutting edge as they tried to get back into the game with Leon Best and Sola Ameobi both sidelined, although Peter Lovenkrands did manage two good shots that needed Brad Friedel to show his worth with time running out.