Aston Villa's Barclays Premier Reserve League North title hopes ended in disappointing fashion last night as they went down 2-1 to Leeds United at Villa Park.

Needing to win in order to have any hope of pipping Manchester United, Villa were outplayed for most of the match. Instead, Villa had to settle for second place for the second season running.

Jonathan Howson scored Leeds' opener in the 18th minute, leaving keeper Robert Olekjnik no chance from close range from a pass by Jermaine Beckford.

Leeds' most experienced player was former Blues keeper Ian Bennett, who made a fine 29th-minute save from Lee Hendrie, who played for 90 minutes on his comeback from injury.

Leeds increased the lead three minutes before the interval through Beckford before Villa replied through Peter Whit-tingham's close-range effort three minutes from time.

Birmingham City were held to a goalless draw on Tyneside as they failed to break Newcastle United's unbeaten home record. In a game of few chances for Blues, their goal lived a charmed life.

Striker Carl Finnegan blasted wide early on and Rob Cavaner also tested Blues keeper Adam Legzdins with a thmuping left-foot shot.

Blues did create a couple of half-chances, however. On 32 minutes, James McPike played in a right-wing cross for Matt Birley, who saw his header cannon off the post. In the second half, Birley again blazed over.

Wolves paid the price for poor marks-manship as they had to settle for a point in a 0-0 draw against Blackburn Rovers at Molineux.

Trialist James Frayne - released by Liverpool - squeezed the ball wide in the 25th minute following a penetrating pass from Stephen Gleeson.

Then, on the hour, Mark Salmon dribbled his way past two defenders only to blast his angled shot high and wide.

But Rovers also came close to sending Wolves to a fifth successive defeat when Craig Barr's 39th-minute header hit the woodwork. Gary Harkins fired a shot for Rovers across the face of goal while substitute Rostyn Griffiths put his close-range header into the side netting.