Rob Elliot saves the day as Newcastle struggle to a point at home to Villa

There were fears that Newcastle United would be unable to raise their game when it came to facing one of the Premier League's lesser sides in Aston Villa.

And so it proved to be the case as the Magpies failed to step up to the plate and put some distance between themselves and the relegation zone.

The bottom-of-the-table side were there for the taking in the eyes of some, but Remi Garde's side seem determined to fight every step of the way between now and the end of the season.

In bagging a point, they have kept Newcastle involved in the scrap for survival, and this result proved to be a wake-up call, despite a good first half from the Magpies.

Newcastle failed to build on Fabricio Coloccini's opener, and missed chances left the back door open for Villa to take a precious point.

Jordan Ayew's equaliser sparked a revival for Garde's men, and in all truth, they could have pushed on to take all three points had it not been for the brilliance of Rob Elliot.

After the game, Steve McClaren spoke of progress after taking seven points from the past three games, but small pockets of boos at the end of the match summed up the frustration of the St. James' Park crowd.

Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):

GK Rob Elliot, 8 -- The Londoner was at his brilliant best for the second game running with some key saves to deny Rudy Gestede twice as Villa tried to close in and kill the game. Although Elliot can't keep doing it every week. Can he?

DF Daryl Janmaat, 6 -- The Netherlands international was one of the main men in the first half as he powered down the right-hand side. But the second half proved to be something of a struggle, and he ended up losing his cool to pick up a yellow card.

DF Fabricio Coloccini, 6 -- Ended his long wait for a goal at St James' Park by firing the Magpies into the lead, but the second half was all about keeping his side in it. Weighed in with a few clearances under pressure but was probably thankful for the point by the end.

DF Chancel Mbemba, 6 -- Mbemba is prepared to let Coloccini get on with carrying the ball out of defence and marshalling the troops. But Mbemba's contributions are vital, and he thumped away 11 clearances in the 90 minutes to keep Villa at bay.

DF Paul Dummett, 6 -- Cut a devastated figure at the end of the game after Newcastle dropped two points. Had a mixed night but will be determined to put it right against Everton.

MF Moussa Sissoko, 6 -- For the second game running, Sissoko put in a host of good crosses but nobody seemed to be able to get on the end of them. A frustrating game for the French international.

MF Vurnon Anita, 5 -- Replaced in the game on a day when Jordan Veretout was able to drift around the midfield thanks to Garde's fluid formation. A dip in performance after two good games against Liverpool and Tottenham.

MF Jack Colback, 6 -- Another to lose out in the engine room battle as Villa took control in the second half. His passing wasn't always accurate either on a day to forget for Newcastle.

MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 6 -- Knows he missed a good chance in the second half after Ayoze Perez's cross. But on a shocking day, this game turned into a muddy, old-school battle and was hardly a great place for Newcastle's best technical player to strut his stuff.

FW Siem de Jong, 5 -- His day started well when he swung the ball in from a corner for Coloccini to sweep home. But missing a horrendous sitter cost Newcastle the game in many ways.

FW Papiss Cisse, 5 -- A steady 33-minute shift before limping off with an injury. Cisse managed a tame header before injury kicked in.


FW Ayoze Perez, 6 -- Blazed over a great chance to win it right at the end.

FW Aleksandar Mitrovic, 6 -- Saw one header palmed over the bar after being subbed on in the first half.

MF Florian Thauvin, 6 -- Made some good runs down the left but sadly nobody got on the end of his crosses. Another dissapointing day for the 22-year-old.