Skipper Jamaal Lascelles rescued Newcastle at the death as they struck in injury time to deny Aston Villa victory and keep their heads above water in the fight for Premier League survival.

Lascelles powered home a last-gasp header to snatch a 1-1 draw at St James' Park just as it looked as though Ollie Watkins’ 86th-minute effort, which looped in off unfortunate Republic of Ireland defender Ciaran Clark, had plunged them deeper into the mire.

Magpies head coach Steve Bruce might have been left bemoaning his luck had his captain not intervened after substitute Jacob Murphy had hit the bar minutes earlier and while his side have now won only twice in 19 games in all competitions, they sit two points clear of the drop zone with 10 fixtures to play.

On a night when he and opposite number Dean Smith might ordinarily have hoped the likes of Allan Saint-Maximin or Jack Grealish might have lit up the contest, it failed to ignite in their absence until the closing stages.

Having handed Dwight Gayle just a second start of the campaign, Bruce sprang something of a surprise when he asked him to line up on the left hand side of a front three with Joelinton on the right and the diminutive Ryan Fraser in the middle.

The Scotland international warmed up keeper Emiliano Martinez with a well-struck fifth-minute volley but as the visitors settled, it was they who set the tempo with Douglas Luiz and John McGinn conducting from the middle of the field.

Ollie Watkins of Aston Villa stretches for the ball under pressure from Ciaran Clark

Tyrone Mings needed the assistance of central defensive partner Ezri Konsa after being sucked in by Joelinton as he cut inside as the Magpies staged a rare 14th-minute attack, but the visitors were dealt a blow seven minutes later when dangerous winger Bertrand Traore left the field after damaging his ribs when he collided with advertising hoardings behind Martin Dubravka’s goal.

Substitute Anwar El Ghazi announced his arrival within two minutes with a drive which nestled safely in Dubravka’s midriff, but the Slovakia international keeper needed to be at his best to keep out Trezeguet’s rising 28th-minute strike from a narrow angle.

Newcastle gradually worked their way into the game, but without the necessary cutting edge to trouble Villa as a tepid first half drew to its inevitable goalless conclusion, and it was Matt Targett who put his own keeper Martinez under pressure with an all too firm 63rd-minute header from an Isaac Hayden cross.

Joelinton, who troubled Mings throughout, should really have tested the keeper to the full with 18 minutes remaining when he was played in by Joe Willock but not for the first time, instead of smashing the ball towards goal, he attempted to pick out Fraser and saw his pass cut out.

Murphy was denied by the crossbar with eight minutes left on the clock, and Newcastle’s misery looked to be complete three minutes later when Watkins got his head to Targett’s cross and saw the ball hit Clark and go in off the crossbar.

However, Lascelles thumped home a header from Murphy’s cross deep into stoppage time to snatch point which could prove priceless in the final analysis.

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