Report: Swansea 1-0 Villa
Villa fell to a narrow defeat against Swansea, despite creating numerous opportunities in a tight encounter at the Liberty Stadium.
Federico Fernandez's goal early in the second half was the difference on a chilly evening in South Wales.
In a match between two teams in the lower reaches of the Barclays Premier League, it was perhaps unsurprising the game at times lacked the necessary quality.
But the commitment of both outfits could not be questioned by either set of supporters.
Following five straight defeats, Rémi Garde spoke of the brittle confidence within his ranks in recent weeks but they began this early evening kick-off on the front foot.
After just three minutes, Carles Gil's lofted free-kick was only partially cleared and stand-in skipper Joleon Lescott fired his first-time strike wide.
The visitors continued to attack and Jordan Ayew fired just over from 18 yards after dispossessing Jack Cork when the Swansea man hesitated on the ball.
Following their recent resurgence in form, fellow strugglers Swansea settled and only a well-timed block from Ciaran Clark denied Modou Barrow a clear sight at goal. Jack Cork headed off target from the resultant set piece.
Appeals for a penalty for a handball against Swansea skipper Ashley Williams were waved away as Rudy Gestede helped on Alan Hutton's long throw.
Swansea playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson struck a free-kick winner in the Liberty meeting in 2014/15 and the visitors had to be wary of his set piece deliveries in this encounter.
Strong defending from centre-back pairing Lescott and Clark, as well as midfielders Idrissa Gana and Ashley Westwood, kept their opponents at bay.
While the home side began to dominate periods of possession, Villa still carved the more promising openings.
Jordan Veretout's cross was headed goalwards by Gestede but Lukasz Fabianski managed to hold.
The match opened up and only a well-timed block from Clark blocked Sigurdsson's effort after Angel Rangel broke well down the right flank.
Garde's men were desperately unlucky not to take the lead just shy of the interval - Gestede's acrobatic overhead-kick blocked behind by Williams and Clark heading the resultant corner off target.
Full-backs Hutton and Aly Cissokho charged forward in the opening stages of the second period as Villa searched for an early goal in front of their travelling supporters.
Their hard work was undone soon after as the hosts took the lead against the run of play - Fernandez turning home Sigurdsson's free-kick after Cissokho had committed a foul.
Villa did not let their heads drop and could have been level virtually from the re-start.
Ayew, a constant menace down the left flank, tricked his way past right-back Rangel but Williams just beat Gestede to the ball with the striker poised to tap home.
Youngster Andre Green made his second consecutive appearance from the bench and his lively play down the flanks gave Garde's side a different outlet.
The 17-year-old won several set pieces and saw a strike charged down.
The aerial presence from corners threatened the home side's goal and both Gestede and Lescott carved further opportunities.
To their credit, Francesco Guidolin's team frustrated the visitors and used their game management skills to perfection as the contest petered out.
Yet, only alert defending from the Welsh side prevented clear openings - Sigurdsson clearing Westwood's lofted free-kick behind for a corner and Fabianski gathering a cross into the box.
The Swans could have doubled their advantage in stoppage time with Bafetimbi Gomis shooting wide from a quick counter-attacking move.
SWANSEA: Fabianski, Rangel, Fernandez, Williams (C), Kingsley (Routledge 86), Cork, Ki (Britton 46),Fer, Barrow (Naughton 79), Sigurdsson, Gomis. Unused subs: Nordfeldt, Amat, Montero, Paloschi.
VILLA: Guzan, Hutton, Lescott (C), Clark, Cissokho, Westwood, Gana, Gil (Agbonlahor 74), Ayew, Veretout (Green 62), Gestede. Unused subs: Bunn, Okore, Bacuna, Sinclair, Sanchez.