Birmingham 0-0 Aston Villa: Second City derby ends goalless
By Simeon Gholam
Last Updated: 29/10/17 9:07pm
The spoils were shared in the Second City derby as Birmingham and Aston Villa played out a goalless draw in the Sky Bet Championship.
Both sides had a number of chances to score and win the game at St Andrew's, Jota missing a one-on-one for the Blues and Villa hitting the bar twice late in the second half.
Tensions were high, Glenn Whelan left bloodied after being caught in the face and a host of fan clappers - later denounced by Steve Bruce - thrown onto the pitch, but the result moves Birmingham two points clear of the relegation zone, while Villa stay sixth.
Jota came in to start for Birmingham while Aston Villa had an unchanged line-up.
Villa started brighter but Birmingham grew swiftly into the game and created most of the big chances in the first half. They were nearly gifted the opener after 34 minutes by Sam Johnstone, who booted a clearance straight at the onrushing Isaac Vassell, but the ball flew just wide of the post.
Birmingham continued well after the break and had another glorious opportunity to take the lead after 48 minutes as Conor Hourihane's weak pass was intercepted by Jota. He then raced through on goal but could only blaze over the bar from 12 yards.
The next big chance fell to Aston Villa as Jonathan Kodjia came within inches of opening the scoring. His header from Albert Adomah's cross after 63 minutes seemed destined for the top corner, but Tomasz Kuszczak got across brilliantly to deny him with a flying save.
Birmingham: Kuszczak (7), Colin (7), Morrison (7), Roberts (7), Grounds (7), Davis (7), Ndoye (7), Kieftenbeld (6), Jota (6), Adams (5), Vassell (6)
Subs: Boga (n/a), Gallagher (6), Jutkiewicz (n/a)
Aston Villa: Johnstone (5), Elmohamady (7), Chester (7), Terry (7), Hutton (6), Snodgrass (5), Whelan (7), Hourihane (5), Onomah (5), Adomah (6), Kodjia (6)
Subs: Jedinak (n/a), Hogan (n/a), Davis (n/a)
Man of the match: Glenn Whelan
That chance seemed to shift the momentum towards Villa, and they had several more fantastic opportunities to take the lead. John Terry sent a Conor Hourihane free-kick just wide, before both Keinan Davis and Jonathan Kodjia rattled the crossbar in the space of two minutes.
Villa then had a great chance to nick the win with the last kick of the game, but Adomah could only hit his free-kick over the bar.
Man of the match - Glenn Whelan
In a fiercely-contested derby game in which he was left bloodied by a flailing arm at one point, Glenn Whelan's experience and composure in midfield shone through for Aston Villa, particularly at times in the game when they were under real pressure from Birmingham.
Steve Cotterill: "I just said to [the players] that I love them all. I didn't like them last weekend but I still loved them, now I'm back to loving them all again. We could have [won it], I know they've hit the bar with a couple of chances but they were on the counter-attack, I thought we were the better side in the second half but the stoppage in the game slowed us down a bit.
"But we caused them problems today and hopefully we can carry on doing that to other teams. I've said to the lads that it's all well and good getting yourself up for Cardiff at home when they're top of the table and for a local derby, but we had that blip in the middle there at Millwall. The Brentford and Barnsley games are very important now before the international break."
Steve Bruce: "I think we were better when we made the changes. Physically it was important we stood up to the barrage they had, then the longer the game goes on you're hoping you can produce a bit of quality at the top end of the pitch.
"We've had a really big, big chance in the game, and they did as well just after half-time, but you're hoping you can take that and come away with the win, which is always nicer than a draw."
Both sides are back in Sky Bet Championship action on Wednesday night. Aston Villa travel to Preston for a clash which is live on Sky Sports, while Birmingham host Brentford.