Aston Villa missed the opportunity to extricate themselves from the relegation dogfight on Saturday after scrapping their way to a 0-0 draw at West Bromwich Albion.
With relegation rivals Bolton being held to a 2-2 draw at Sunderland, Villa could have eased their fears of demotion by going five points clear of the bottom three had they won at the Hawthorns.
However Alex McLeish's side were forced to settle for a goal-less draw which leaves Villa perched just three points clear of the bottom three with two games remaining.
But McLeish's side rode their luck on their way to what could be a vital point, benefitting from a controversial refereeing decision by Mark Clattenburg during the second half.
Clattenburg failed to spot a blatant handball on the goal-line by Alan Hutton which blocked a goal-bound Liam Ridgewell header.
However Villa recovered well from that scare to create the better of the chances over the remainder of the afternoon, and Ben Foster needed to be on top form to keep Gabriel Agbonlahor, Chris Herd and Charles N'Zogbia at bay.
Villa were also grateful for the return of defender Richard Dunne after a two-and-a-half month injury lay-off with a broken collarbone.
Dunne's reassuring presence helped Villa to only their second clean sheet in nine games.
However Villa had goalkeeper Shay Given to thank for a superb last minute save that denied Albion a winner, the Irishman blocking Peter Odemwingie's late volley.