Match report: Villa 3-2 Blackpool
Late drama seems to follow Villa around at the moment - but this time it tasted sweet.
Four days after Fulham's Brede Hangeland denied the claret and blues all three points, DJ Campbell threatened to do the same for Blackpool.
But James Collins had the final say in this encounter as Villa took their turn to deliver a killer blow at the death.
Stewart Downing and Nathan Delfouneso fired Gerard Houllier's team into winning positions on seperate occasions, only for Marlon Harewood and substitute Campbell to undo their hard work.
It was appropriate that Downing should supply the delivery for Collins' match-winning header with a minute remaining in normal time.
The England winger was Villa's driving force all evening and made their early pressure count with a well-taken opening goal on 29 minutes.
Downing assumed a dual role of creator and finisher when he took his tally for the season to five.
After sprinting infield from the right hand-side, he neatly exchanged passes with Ashley Young before cutting back on to his right foot to fire high into the net with the aid of a deflection.
Moments earlier, Downing skipped a challenge from Rob Edwards, continued down the left and slid a pass across goal which was just out of Delfouneso's reach.
While Villa's future stars such as Delfouneso, Barry Bannan and Marc Albrighton looked to pose problems, it was a familiar face who came in the other direction to cause them.
On the stroke of half-time, former claret and blues striker Harewood reacted quickest to an audacious back-heel from Mark Phillips before coolly slotting across Brad Friedel.
He had been a threat throughout the opening 45 minutes and should have made better contact with a left-wing cross from Phillips in the early stages, which he shot over the bar.
When Harewood did hit the target, it threatened to scupper Villa's early progress.
Luke Young and Richard Dunne both saw close-range attempts shave the woodwork, while Collins had a header cleared off the line from a Downing corner.
The second-half saw a surge in tempo from the hosts.
Delfouneso and Collins could have seen their names on the scoresheet a lot earlier.
Shortly after the restart, Collins saw a header cleared off the line while Delfouneso converted Young's cross only to have it harshly ruled out for an infringement in the area.
It failed to deter the England U21 striker, who bagged his second top-flight goal on 59 minutes.
He sprinted on to a defence-splitting ball from Young and tucked a neat finish past Kingson.
The Seasiders, who made 10 changes going into this game, sent on big-hitters Charlie Adam and DJ Campbell and were duly rewarded.
Minutes after his arrival on the pitch, Adam flashed a free-kick just wide of the near post.
Villa seemed to be heading towards victory when Campbell got between Dunne and Collins to win possession.
His shot from the edge of the box brushed Collins and looped over a helpless Friedel.
However, there was still time for Collins to power home Downing's corner at the near post and seal three points for Villa.
VILLA: Friedel; L Young, Dunne, Collins, Warnock; Albrighton, Clark, Bannan, Downing; Young, Delfouneso. Subs: Lichaj (for Bannan, 90), Guzan, Lowry, Ireland (for Albrighton, 80), Agbonlahor, Hogg, Johnson.
BLACKPOOL: Kingson, Basham, Edwards, Keinan, Carney, Southern, Sylvestre, Euell, Ormerod, Phillips, Harewood. Subs: Gilks, Eardley, Evatt (for Keinan, 74), Grandin, Adam (for Euell, 71), Varney, Campbell (for Harewood, 77).
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