PAPISS Demba Cisse edged Aston Villa closer to relegation at St James’s Park this afternoon.
Cisse’s goal gave Newcastle United a 1-0 victory over Tim Sherwood’s second-from-bottom side.
The striker’s first-half goal, his 11th of the season, settled a scrappy Premier League game which is likely to be low down the running order on Match of the Day tonight.
Worryingly for Newcastle, defender Massadio Haidara was stretchered off in the second half.
United head coach John Carver, dowhn to the bare bones at the back, can ill-afford to lose any more defenders to injury.
The game also saw winger Jonas Gutierrez, given the all-clear after treatment from testicular cancer, named on the bench by Carver.
Worryingly for Newcastle, defender Massadio Haidara was stretchered off in the second half
Gutierrez didn’t make it on to the pitch.
Villa dominated the first half, and Cisse’s goal came from United’s first shot on target.
Early in the half, Daryl Janmaat did well to stop Scott Sinclair meeting a right-wing Christian Benteke cross at the far post.
Newcastle were poor in the final third of the pitch, and Villa started to apply more pressure as the half wore on. Benteke put one effort wide, and then forced a good save from Tim Krul with an overhead kick.
Cisse, however, made his 37th-minute chance count.
Janmaat swung in a teasing cross from the right, and Cisse brought it under control before neatly poking it past Brad Guzan.
Cisse headed a Sammy Ameobi free-kick wide in the 57th minute before Carver was forced into a change when Haidara suffered an injury and had to be replaced by Ryan Taylor.
Krul stopped a shot from Tom Cleverley with his legs in the 62nd minute.
Villa manager Tim Sherwood put on former Newcastle winger Charles N’Zogbia in place of Sinclair in the 66th minute.
Perez replaced Riviere for the last 17 minutes, and Taylor forced a save from Guzan with a low free-kick.
United had to defend stoutly to protect their slender lead, and Yoan Gouffran replaced Gabriel Obertan in a third change
And Newcastle held on to claim three valuable points ahead of Wednesday night’s home game against Manchester United.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Janmaat; Williamson, Coloccini, Haidara (R Taylor, 61); Obertan (Gouffran, 78), Sissoko, Abeid, Ameobi; Riviere (Perez, 73) Cisse. Subs not used: Woodman, Anita, Gutierrez, Armstrong.
ASTON VILLA: Guzan, Hutton, Okore, Clark, Lowton (Bacuna, 82), Sinclair (N’Zogbia, 66), Delph, Cleverley, Westwood, Agbonlahor (Weimann, 73), Benteke. Subs not used: Given, Sanchez, Gil, Grealish.
Goal: Cisse 37
Bookings: Hutton 26, Lowton 45, Williamson 53, Agbonlahor 62, Clark 83, Cleverley 90
Referee: Lee Mason (Bolton)