Aston Villa 1 Blackpool 0
Three minutes after the Aston Villa faithful decided they had seen enough and started chanting "We want Lambert out" up popped Christian Benteke to fire home a barely deserved winning goal to save their manager from an embarrassing post-match post mortem.
After being knocked out of the domestic cups by four lower-division opponents over the past two years, Paul Lambert could scarcely have afforded the ignominy of failing to beat Blackpool, the bottom club in the Championship, at home.
So Benteke’s goal, only the team’s second in six games, in the 88th minute alleviates some of the pressure that would have intensified on the Villa manager had they been held here.
But a tally of 12 goals from 22 games in all competitions reflects the barren feeling emanating from Villa Park these days.
Villa were so anaemic in the first half that when Carlos Sánchez let go with a regulation low drive in the 62nd minute for Joe Lewis to save comfortably, ironic cheers rang around the ground.
“One goal, we only want one goal,” came the chant from the Holte End as Blackpool sat deep, soaked up the so-called pressure and left their sole front man to chase the occasional lost cause.
Villa's bid to start winning games has been based on a return to a possession-based game but, even as they sought greater ingenuity and trickery by introducing Joe Cole and Jack Grealish into an initial 3-4-3 formation, their passing was too laboured, too ponderous, to drag defenders about and make spaces to create the chances.
Indeed Blackpool came closer to scoring in the first half, Andrea Orlandi volleying wide from Jamie O'Hara's corner and the winger's shot deflecting off Ciaran Clark to force Shay Given into a good save.
Benteke, his movement so lumpen in the first half, shot into the side-netting in first-half stoppage time when he opted against returning the ball to Grealish and the second half was only marginally better.
Benteke had a fierce shot on the run tipped on to the post by Lewis before Given palmed Ishmael Miller’s piledriver over the crossbar as Blackpool scented glory. But then, just as the Holte End started chanting for their manager to pay the price for this dreadfully barren run, Benteke arrived to take a cross down on his chest and crash home the winner.