Two second-half goals condemned Rotherham United to another defeat, at home to Aston Villa, in their season of Championship struggle as they slipped 18 points away from safety.
The division's bottom club put in a spirited performance but their fate was sealed by a Will Vaulks own goal after 68 minutes and Jonathan Kodjia's 87th-minute strike which came, ironically, after the home side's best attacking spell of the game.
It was cruel on Vaulks, who had done well after being moved to right-back from midfield when Stephen Kelly limped off injured in the 17th minute, as he turned Kodjia's cross into his own net.
It was an eighth loss in nine matches for the Millers who saw the gap between them and survival grow even wider with only 11 games remaining.
Skipper Lee Frecklington made his long-awaited return from an ankle injury when he came on as a half-time substitute for Danny Ward.
Paul Warne's side lacked for nothing in effort, but Villa had most of the chances.
The home side were kept in it before the break by Lewis Price saves from Conor Hourihane and Albert Adomah shots.
When the Millers goalkeeper was beaten, Aimen Belaid did brilliantly to race back and hook Adomah's lob off the line.
Rotherham's only real chance came in the 34th minute when Anthony Forde swung in a corner and Tom Adeyemi saw his header cleared away from close in by Jonathan Kodjia.
Warne had pledged beforehand to be positive and was true to his word, going with a 4-4-2 formation against opposition who were in the Premier League last season and pairing Ward and Jerry Yates up front.
The Millers had periods of pressure after the interval but were unable to create clear-cut opportunities and Villa, who saw Conor Hourihane, twice, and Jordan Amavi go close, took advantage at the other end.
Rotherham United (4-4-2): Price; Kelly (Smallwood 17), Ajayi, Belaid, Purrington; Forde, Vaulks, Adeyemi, Taylor (Newell 60); Ward (Frecklington H-T), Yates. Subs not used: Bilboe, Mattock, Bray, Warren.
Aston Villa (4-1-2-3): Johnstone; Hutton, Chester, Baker, Taylor; Jedinak; Lansbury, Hourihane; Adomah, Kodjia (Davis 89), Bjarnason (Grealish 33, Amavi 44). Subs not used: Bunn, Richards, Elphick, Bree, Davis.
Goals: Vaulks og 68, Kodjia 87 (Villa).
Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire).
Attendance: 10,720 (2,567).