Adding gallantry to their new-found zest, Newcastle edged to their second straight win under the acting managership of Glenn Roeder despite being reduced to 10 men for much of the second half.
Though they were again indebted to the goalkeeping genius of Shay Given, Newcastle blossomed after an 80-second goal and it was only towards the end, with Celestine Babayaro shown a straight red by that card-happy official, Mike Riley, that their assurance and confidence came under the cosh from a Villa side belatedly in full flow.
Luke Moore continued his impressive run for Villa with a fifth goal in three matches, but Milan Baros could not convert the penalty he had won when tumbling under Babayaro's tackle. The kick was accurate and low but it needs something special to outwit Given on a day like this and he somehow blocked the ball and diverted it over the bar at the same time.
Roeder let it be known beforehand that he had been working on his team's defensive frailties. Since, for the first time, the central pairing of Jean-Alain Boumsong and Titus Bramble did not resemble a music-hall act, he could be said to have succeeded. What one could not manage, the other one could and their doggedness, added to the midfield drive of Scott Parker and Emre, ensured that Newcastle deserved to go in ahead at half-time. That they survived was down to Given, dogged defiance and, as the Villa manager David O'Leary insisted, plenty of fortune. "With that sort of luck they will win the League," he said.
Newcastle deserved to be in front for the first hour, but when Babayaro trudged off and Newcastle rearranged their side, bringing on Robbie Elliott, switching Paul Ramage to left- back and taking off Nolberto Solano, who had been an inspiration against the side he played for last season, Villa bore down.
After Baros's spot-kick failure, Moore hit the side netting when he should have done better, Given pulled off an astonishing tip-over from Juan Pablo Angel, Liam Ridgewell's header clipped the top of the bar and shots aplenty bounced off Newcastle bodies. As O'Leary observed: "It was their day."
It was a day which began bright and early, with Solano, booed by the crowd, somehow retaining possession in Newcastle's first raid to slip a pass inside to Alan Shearer. The captain's quick flick left Shola Ameobi with enough space to score at leisure just inside the far post.
A heavily deflected Ameobi effort which just missed an upright could have seen Newcastle two up before Villa equalised just after a quarter of an hour. Craig Gardner, the 19-year-old midfielder starting for the first time, bent a free-kick from the left touchline towards the near post and Moore's downward header was too good for Given.
Newcastle regained the lead just before the half-hour. Solano, sent through by Shearer, saw his low drive repelled but not held by Thomas Sorensen and Charles N'Zogbia was quickest to the loose ball. There could have been a third, too, Mark Delaney acrobatically clearing off the line from Shearer. If that one had gone in, Roeder claimed, there would have been no need for the heroics of the two Bs, Bramble and Boumsong.Reuse content