Aston Villa were given the most slender stay of execution on Saturday despite a record eighth consecutive league defeat almost certainly guaranteeing their relegation for the first time in the Premier League era.
Villa, who had won at Bournemouth on the opening day of the season only to fail to land another victory in their next 19 league games, continued their pitiful form.
They succumbed to a goal just before the break from Steve Cook, who flicked home from close range from a corner, and Josh King cashed in after 74 minutes on familiar blundering defensive work from the home side.
Not even a late consolation from Jordan Ayew could save Villa from the home fans’ boos at the end yet they were spared certain relegation on a mathematical basis at least because 17th-placed Norwich City lost at Crystal Palace.
Norwich have 15 points more than Villa, and with a goal difference advantage of 19 over the Midlanders, with five games left.