Collins goal lifts Villa to 14th

Aston Villa moved up to 14th in the Premier League - five points clear of the drop zone - after winning 1-0 at home to Newcastle on Sunday.

Last Updated: 10/04/11 at 18:18 Post Comment

Collins: Celebrates goal

Collins: Celebrates goal

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James Collins eased the hosts' relegation worries with a first-half goal at Villa Park.

The Wales international centre-back broke the deadlock with a 24th-minute header from Ashley Young's free-kick, awarded after Magpies skipper Joey Barton fouled Young on the left flank.

Darren Bent had the ball in the net a minute before half-time from Jean Makoun's pass - only to be incorrectly ruled offside.

The second half lacked any real clear-cut chances, although Steve Harper was forced into a decent save to deny Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Victory gave Villa revenge for a 6-0 mauling at the hands of the Magpies in August.

Villa were relieved to hang on after dropping more points - 23 - from winning positions than any other Premier League team this season.

The game was far from a classic, but the result rather than the performance was crucial given the hosts' current predicament.

However, they deserved the three points after dominating the second period - with winger Stewart Downing again impressing.

Newcastle had slightly the better of the first half but lacked a cutting edge particularly without the services of suspended captain and top scorer Kevin Nolan.

The Magpies were the first to threaten and a dangerous left-wing cross from Jose Enrique picked out the run of Barton at the far post.

But the midfielder opted for a first time header when there was time to control the ball and his effort flew into the Holte End.

Newcastle started to impose themselves on the game and Brad Friedel went down to his left to gather Nile Ranger's low attempt from Jonas Gutierrez's through-ball.

Mike Williamson became the first player to be booked for bringing down Agbonlahor in full flight.

Then after 24 minutes, a superb header from Collins put Villa ahead.

Barton was upset at being penalised for bringing down Ashley Young.

Young took the free-kick himself and Collins' glancing header flew past goalkeeper Harper into the far corner of the net. It was his third goal of the campaign.

Barton appeared to be constantly berating referee Stuart Attwell and was spoken to by the official.

Young had a shot deflected wide after finding plenty of space 20 yards out, then a goalbound header from Richard Dunne was blocked from the resulting corner by the influential Young.

Downing delivered an inviting cross after skipping past the challenge of Danny Simpson but Bent could not keep his header down.

Bent had the ball in the net a minute before half-time but was ruled offside. Television replays indicated the linesman's decision was wrong.

Villa started the second period on the offensive and a mistake by Barton allowed Stiliyan Petrov to find Agbonlahor in space on the left flank.

He had time to make ground into the Newcastle box and his curling shot was parried aside by Harper.

Young had a low shot turned around the post by Harper, even though referee Attwell awarded a goal-kick.

Villa were now in the ascendancy and Harper went down to cling on to Agbonlahor's low shot on the turn.

The home side appealed in vain for a penalty when Steven Taylor barged into Bent after an hour.

It was Taylor's last contribution before he was replaced by namesake Ryan.

Villa were still searching for the second goal and Collins had a goalbound header cleared from a Young corner.

Petrov was booked after bringing down Barton, who was then yellow carded for a challenge on Villa substitute Nigel Reo-Coker.

Friedel clung on to a Peter Lovenkrands header and then blocked a low drive from the same player in injury-time.

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