Aston Villa moved into the automatic promotion spot following a 2-0 win over local rivals Birmingham City in the 126th Birmingham derby.
Steve Bruce returned to the dugout after experiencing some personal problems over the past week and opted to bring in Mile Jedinak for Birkir Bjarnason in the only change for the home side.
Villa started off the better side in the first half with Jack Grealish running the show and causing problems for Cheikh N’Doye and the Birmingham defence.
Despite dominating the game, Villa failed to cause any real problem until Scott Hogan broke into the box and watched on as his shot smashed off the bar.
In fact, it was Birmingham who has the best chance in the opening 45 minutes. Sam Gallagher got onto the end of a through ball from Jacques Maghoma after John Terry slipped but his shot found the post and on the rebound, he hoofed it over the bar.
Villa once again started brightly in the second half and found the woodwork again when Terry got on the end of a Robert Snodgrass cross but his chance reflected off Marc Roberts and Harley Dean before hitting the crossbar.
The home side finally took the lead on the hour mark and it was no real surprise to see Grealish involved.
Bruce’s men then doubled their lead with nine minutes left on the clock when Conor Hourihane was first onto Dean’s clearance, sending a dipping shot from 20 yards over a clueless David Stockdale.
Birmingham’s day was summed up in the final minutes when Ndoye was sent off after clashing with Jedinak and Terry but Villa’s victory was well and truly in the bag.
We all love a derby win but I am sure all of us are glad its done and dusted now. We have the bragging rights and can continue with our surge in the Championship with a trip to the capital to take on Fulham next weekend.
Colin Calderwood: “After we scored we really took control of the game. We found our rhythm better than Birmingham and we were able t create some good openings. The passing of Jack Grealish was excellent and played a leading role in this important game.”
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.”