Aston Villa travelled to the Britannia Stadium on Saturday afternoon knowing that a victory would enhance their Premier League survival chances and drag opponents Stoke City further into relegation trouble.
The hosts began the game without a win in 12 top-flight matches and their poor form looked set to continue when Gabriel Agbonlahor gave Villa an early advantage.
Second-half changes helped the Potters mount a fightback, as two of Tony Pulis's substitutes combined to create their 78th-minute equaliser, which came courtesy of Michael Kightly.
Read how events unfolded in Staffordshire below with Sports Mole's blow-by-blow text coverage.
2.12pmAfternoon all! We have under half of the Premier League's weekend fixtures today, but there are still some important matches and vital points to play for...
2.14pmNo more so than at the Britannia Stadium, where the hosts, who have won just once in their last 12 games, are in desperate need of a victory to halt their slide down the table, while Villa also scrapping for their top-flight lives.
2.16pmLet's get down to business then. The two lineups are in and here they are...
2.22pmSUBS: Given, El Ahmadi, Bent, N'Zogbia, Holman, Sylla, Lichaj
2.23pmStoke make three changes following their 1-0 defeat at Everton. The omission from the starting XI of former Villa striker Peter Crouch is the Potters' headline piece of team news.
2.25pmKenwyne Jones is preferred to the 6ft 7in striker in the lone forward role. Jones will be supported by Jonathan Walters, who has been shifted inside following the recall of Matthew Etherington, who returns in place of Cameron Jerome.
2.26pmEtherington, who has overcome back and groin injuries, will offer the hosts some genuine width on the left flank.
2.27pmThe inclusion of midfielder Dean Whitehead ahead of Glenn Whelan is Stoke's other alteration.
2.28pmCrouch is one of a number of attacking options of the Stoke bench. Manager Tony Pulis also has Jerome and the soon-to-be retired poaching instincts of Michael Owen to call upon.
2.30pmVilla make two changes, both in midfield, while their substitutes' bench is boosted by the returns of Darren Bent and Brett Holman.
2.32pmBoth Barry Bannan and January arrival Yacouba Sylla drop out of the starting XI, as Fabian Delph and Jordan Bowery come into the side.
2.34pmThis will be Bowery's second Premier League start since his summer move from Chesterfield. He is usually employed as a striker, so his inclusion is likely to result in Andreas Weimann dropping deeper.
2.36pmWeimann has 11 club goals to his name this season. The Austrian is second only to 18-goal striker Christian Benteke in the Villa scoring charts.
2.38pmThe powerful Belgian has the attributes to trouble the most physical of defences, but he may meet his match this afternoon against a famously robust Stoke back line.
2.41pmBenteke's form has reportedly alerted the attention of the Premier League's elite, with Tottenham Hotspur the latest club to have been linked with a £15m summer bid.
2.45pmIreland centre-back Ciaran Clark remains absent for the visitors, as he continues to nurse the shoulder injury that he picked up while on international duty last week.
2.48pmRon Vlaar has missed a large chunk of Villa's season and his injury layoff coincided with a spell when they were particularly poor at the back. Remember, they conceded 15 goals in three Premier League games over Christmas.
2.50pmHowever, the Dutchman captains the visitors this afternoon, which is a big positive for Paul Lambert's men. Villa have claimed 10 points from the last five matches in which Vlaar has featured.
2.52pmKickoff is just under 10 minutes away, so let's have a quick look at the recent history between these two teams.
2.54pmThe last four Premier League meetings between these sides have ended in draws and Stoke have only suffered one loss to the Claret and Blue outfit since their promotion to the top flight in 2008.
2.57pmPREDICTION: Stoke have been poor of late, especially in-front of goal and although Villa will surely present them with scoring opportunities, I fancy the visitors to cause problems going forward. 1-2!
2 minPENALTY SHOUT! Walters drives into the box and fires a shot into the outstretched arm of Baker, who is just yards away from the Potters forward. Stoke appeal for a spot-kick, but nothing is given.
3 minBaker was the guilty party when Villa conceded a penalty against Liverpool last week. He would have been cursing his luck further if that one was given. Yes, it definitely struck his arm, but he couldn't really get out of way and he did not move his arm towards the ball.
5 minEtherington knocks the ball off Lowton to win Stoke their first corner of the afternoon. Even without the towering frame of Crouch, the hosts will pose big a threat from set pieces.
6 minSHOT! Jones has his first chance of the match as he chests down Whitehead's cross, before blazing the follow-up volley into the stands.
8 minVilla open the scoring on their first venture forward and it is so, so easy! Lowton plays a one-two with Bowery from a throw-in and advances into the box. Etherington is at fault for not tracking the run of the full-back, who squares for Agbonlahor to shoot at the near post. His initial effort is blocked, but the Birmingham-born forward has an easy rebound to slot past Asmir Begovic.
11 minCLOSE! Bowery is allowed to dribble with the ball up to the edge of the Stoke box, as Robert Huth drops deeper and deeper. The young attacker decides to accept Huth's invitation to shoot and bends a 20-yard effort into the side netting.
12 minBowery has started well and the inexperienced attacker played a key role in the build up to Villa's goal. He received the ball from Lowton and then fell to the floor, but still managed to supply a return pass from his grounded position.
14 minSAVE! Villa show that they may also prove dangerous from set pieces today, as Baker wins a header at the back post and Benteke shows great technique to volley the knockdown goalwards. Begovic is well positioned, though, and he parries the ball upwards before grasping it at the second attempt.
16 minThere are certainly goals in this Villa team. Agbonlahor's strike was his third in four games and his ninth of the season. He is the club's third top scorer.
17 minStoke, on the other hand, have proved much less prolific. They have only netted six times in their last 11 outings and they are the division's lowest scorers, which is why they now find themselves being dragged into relegation trouble.
19 minThe home fans were in full voice when the game began, but that Agbonlahor goal and the period of calm Villa possession that has followed has certainly quietened them. Instead, it is now the visiting support making the noise as they mark the 19th minute with a round of applause for absent club captain Stiliyan Petrov, who is continuing to recover from Leukaemia.
22 minSHOT! Great work from Agbonlahor, as he firstly tracks back to pinch the ball from Etherington. He then leads a Villa counter, playing the ball to Benteke before receiving a return pass 15 yards out. He comes inside Shawcross and attempts to find the bottom corner with a curling effort, which bobbles narrowly wide.
25 minShotton and Etherington have switched flanks. The former picks up the ball on the left and tries to find the run of Walters, but he overhits his dreadful pass by a good 30 yards.
28 minWhile it is perhaps a tad early to be thinking about substitutions, Stoke boss Pulis will certainly have to consider making changes if Villa's dominance continues. Owen, Crouch and Jerome are all forward reinforcements available to the Potters manager today.
30 minWOODWORK! Weimann comes within inches of doubling Villa's advantage. Agbonlahor's pass inside is miscontrolled by Benteke, but Weimann is alert to pick up the loose ball and surge through the middle of a slow Stoke defence. The Austrian opens his body up to try to find the bottom corner, but Begovic gets a fingertip to the shot and tips it onto the post.
31 minAt the other end, Stoke counter immediately through Etherington, who threatens to drive into the Villa penalty area before Vlaar brilliantly dispossess him with a sliding tackle.
32 minEtherington delivers a ball into the box for Walters, but there is no pace on either the cross or the header, which drifts harmlessly wide of Brad Guzan's goal.
35 minDRAMA! Agbonlahor is sent clear down the left channel by a clever Benteke flick. He travels with the ball into the box, where Begovic is there to meet him. Instead of shooting, Agbonlahor opts to round the Bosnian and then goes to ground under his challenge. Villa want a penalty, but, instead, referee Mark Clattenburg books the striker for diving.
36 minReplays show that Agbonlahor's yellow card was justified. There was a little contact between the two players, but Agbonlahor initially stayed on his feet, before then changing his mind and going to ground, leaving Clattenburg with little choice but to caution him.
39 minCHANCE! Whitehead delivers a free kick from deep and Ryan Shawcross climbs above Nathan Baker, only to head several yards over the crossbar. Even so, that is probably the closest Stoke have come to a goal so far.
42 minWhitehead and then Marc Wilson try their luck from long range, but Vlaar and Ashley Westwood respectively are on hand to make blocks from their speculative efforts, which demonstrate Stoke's lack of creativity.
45 minThe fourth official's board is up and it shows that there will be a minimum of one added minute at the end of the first half.
3.49pmThe home supporters boo their side off the pitch at half time, after watching them be thoroughly outplayed by Aston Villa, who lead 1-0 courtesy of Gabriel Agbonlahor's early tap-in.
3.50pmAnd what a crucial goal that could prove to be. As it stands, Villa would leapfrog Wigan and Sunderland to move out of the relegation zone and to within a point of Stoke in the process.
3.52pmClick here to read Liam Apicella's half-time report on the first-half action at the Britannia Stadium.
3.56pmIt is quite evident that Stoke are out of form and, judging by their attacking play thus far, seemingly out of ideas. They have not yet found a way to get service to their strikers in dangerous positions. Also, their famous set-piece threat has so far failed to cause any problems.
3.59pmSTATS: The statistics support that theory, as the hosts have only managed to register one shot on target. Villa have had three times as many, and have also edged possession with 54%.
47 minSUBSTITUTION: Pulis has replaced Etherington with fellow winger Michael Kightly. Etherington has suffered with back and groin niggles in recent weeks and he appeared to moving gingerly towards the end of the first half.
48 minSAVE! Joe Bennett passes to the feet of Bowery, who spins away from Wilson far too easily. He is in on Begovic's goal, but the Bosnian stays big and foils Bowery's left-footed effort.
50 minWeimann collects a pass from Lowton and gets to the right byline before fizzing in a cross, which is just behind both Benteke and Agbonlahor.
51 minReferee Clattenburg awards Stoke a free kick following an overly-aggressive Benteke challenge on Shotton. Looking at the replay, the Belgian appeared to throw an elbow in Shotton's direction, but, fortunately for Villa, Clattenburg did not spot that.
53 minSUBSTITUTION: Wilson is forced off with a leg injury, but Pulis does not opt for a like-for-like change. Jerome is Wilson's replacement and, as a consequence, it looks like Whitehead is going to relocate to right-back.
56 minSHOT! Stoke finally show some attacking urgency, but unfortunately they are let down by Jerome's poor decision making. The former Birmingham front man skips past Vlaar before firing straight into the gloves of Guzan, when several of his teammates were well positioned to receive passes.
58 minFARCE! Westwood appears to be hurt following a collision with Shawcross, meaning that the Villa medical team are allowed to enter the field of play. However, as it transpires, the medics are not on the pitch to give the midfielder treatment. They have come on to provide Westwood with a change of footwear.
62 minBOOKING: Shotton flies into Benteke from behind and becomes the first Stoke player to be cautioned this afternoon.
63 minCHANCE! Westwood's whipped delivery from the resultant free kick drifts beyond both Vlaar and Baker, but Bowery shakes off his marker to nod a tame effort straight at Begovic.
65 minBOOKING: More ill discipline from Stoke as Weimann proves to be far too quick for Shawcross, who brings him down and is showed a yellow card.
67 minVilla will be encouraged by the fact that they have managed to restrict Stoke to just one goalscoring opportunity since half time. Three quarters of the match have now gone and the hosts have yet to find any attacking rhythm.
69 minThe visitors go in search a second goal, which, judging by Stoke's recent form, could kill this game off. Agbonlahor surges forward. He tries to play in Benteke 15 yards out, but Shawcross comes across to beat the Belgian to the ball.
70 minBLOCK! Superb defending from Baker, who takes a fierce Jones shot to the head after the Stoke striker had shown great power to shrug off Vlaar and get a strike away.
72 minCHANCE! Jones is involved again, but, this time, a Villa body is not needed to foil his effort. The Trinidadian completely scuffs his shot after receiving a drilled cross from Jerome, who had left Bennett for dead with a clever piece of skill.
74 minSUBSTITUTION: Villa boss Paul Lambert makes his first personnel change of the game, sacrificing goalscorer Agbonlahor for the more defensive-minded Yacobua Sylla.
76 minSUBSTITUTION: Pulis responds by making his final change. Charlie Adam is thrown into the action, as Ryan Shotton makes way.
78 minAdam makes an immediate impact and Pulis's substitutions are further vindicated by the fact that it is Kightly who nets the equaliser. Adam carries the ball 40 yards before playing Walters in down the left. Walters capitalises on a slip from Lowton to play a return pass to Adam, whose mishit shot falls nicely for Kightly to sweep into the net.
81 minSUBSTITUTION: Lambert reacts to seeing his side surrender another lead by bringing on Charles N'Zogbia in place of Bowery.
83 minPENALTY SHOUT! Stoke appeal for handball inside the penalty area for the second time today. Again, their protestations are unsuccessful, but they may have had a case this time. Vlaar seemed to move his arm in a direction which helped him to block Kightly's probing pass.
84 minSHOT! Adam wins a free kick on the edge of the box and wants to take it himself. Instead, Jerome steps up for the set piece, but his effort floats harmlessly into the crowd, who are far from impressed.
85 minSUBSTITUTION: Lambert indicates his desire to collect maximum points by throwing on Bent in place of Weimann.
87 minIncredible scenes as Villa regain their lead with a contender for goal of the season from Lowton. A corner is cleared to the full-back, who chests the ball down before unleashing a stunning volley from 30 yards. His effort dips over Begovic and drops just under the crossbar.
90 minVilla make sure of three massive points as Benteke nets his 19th goal of the season. He nips in front of Huth on the halfway line and, with Stoke bodies committed forward, the Belgian hit man has a free run at goal. He has options left and right, but confidently goes it alone, tucking the ball under Begovic to secure Villa a huge victory in their battle against the drop.