Aston Villa 2-0 Birmingham: Albert Adomah and Conor Hourihane goals send Villa second
By Will Unwin
Last Updated: 11/02/18 11:51pm
Aston Villa moved up to second in the Sky Bet Championship after goals from Albert Adomah and Conor Hourihane secured a 2-0 win over fierce rivals Birmingham.
Adomah scored his 13th goal of the season on the hour mark and Conor Hourihane netted a second after 81 minutes as Villa chalked up their seventh successive league win to edge a point ahead of third-placed Derby.
Birmingham were reduced to 10 men at the death following Cheikh Ndoye's second yellow card but the game was long won, Steve Cotterill's side two points above the relegation zone in 20th and without a goal in their last five visits to Villa Park.
Aston Villa: Johnstone (7), Elmohamady (7), Terry (6), Chester (7), Hutton (7), Snodgrass (7), Jedinak (8), Hourihane (7), Adomah (8), Grealish (8), Hogan (7)
Subs: Whelan (6), Bjarnason (6), Grabban (6)
Birmingham: Stockdale (7), Jenkinson (5), Roberts (6), Dean (6), Colin (6), Davis (7), Kieftenbeld (7), Ndoye (5), Maghoma (6), Boga (7), Gallagher (6)
Subs: Jota (6), Adams (6)
Man of the match: Jack Grealish
The first half was a frenetic affair as Aston Villa dominated possession but struggled to create chances, until Scott Hogan broke into the box and volleyed a shot against the bar after the ball had ricocheted off a Birmingham defender and onto his arm.
Adomah should have done better when played in by a flick from Jack Grealish following good work by Robert Snodgrass, but the former Middlesbrough winger struck a shot straight at Stockdale from 10 yards.
Mile Jedinak was brought in to play in front of the back four in Aston Villa's only change. Birmingham made two changes from their last league game as Grounds and Jota missed out, with Colin and Maghoma starting.
Birmingham had the best opportunity of the opening period when Sam Gallagher latched onto a through ball from Jacques Maghoma after John Terry had slipped, but the striker struck his shot against the post and the rebound flew over.
Aston Villa showed their intent from kick-off in the second half as Snodgrass swung a cross in from the right which Terry challenged for, but it came off the head of Marc Roberts before Harlee Dean headed onto his own bar before clearing.
Grealish played a crucial part in the opening goal, holding the ball up on the left before cutting in and laying it off to Adomah, who shifted the ball into space and struck into the bottom corner from 18 yards.
The victory was confirmed with nine minutes to go as Hourihane was first onto Dean's headed clearance, sending a dipping shot from 20 yards over a helpless David Stockdale.
Ndoye saw red in the final moments of the game after clashing with Mile Jedinak and Terry, which resulted in a second booking, but Villa's victory by then was secure, Steve Bruce's side joining Wolves in the automatic promotion places.
Man of the match - Jack Grealish
The midfielder was a constant menace, ensuring Carl Jenkinson had a horrendous afternoon. Grealish created one goal but was key to most things positive for Villa.
Colin Calderwood (speaking on behalf of Steve Bruce): "After we scored we really took control of the game. We found our rhythm better than Birmingham and we were able to to create some good openings. The passing of Jack Grealish was excellent and played a leading role in this important game.
"We have to take care of staying where we are at the moment. That is more important than worrying about (league leaders) Wolves."
Steve Cotterill: "We didn't have the quality, experience and belief. I am not talking about an average Villa team. They are packed with quality and Premiership experience whereas I thought there were a few of my boys who didn't have the belief to play in the game.
"Our inexperience was exposed and after going two goals down it was an uphill task as the game looked a little too big for some of our young boys. It will be good experience but it is painful at the moment."
Aston Villa travel to Fulham for a 3pm kick-off on Saturday, while Birmingham will host Millwall at the same time.