Jack Grealish’s goal in the 67th minute was enough to see Villa collect three very valuable points against fierce local rivals Birmingham City at St. Andrew’s.
However, the only thing that the game will be remembered for is the disgusting attack on Grealish. The Villa captain had helped earned his side a corner in the 11th minute, and then, when his back was turned, a Birmingham City fan ran onto the pitch and punched him in the back of the head, knocking him to the floor.
The man was immediately arrested and led away, but it left a dark cloud hanging over the remainder of the match. Hopefully he will spend some time in jail to think about his cowardly actions and will be banned from football stadiums all over the country.
Grealish, to his immense credit, brushed himself down and got on with the game, and should have had an assist to his name in the first-half, but Anwar El Ghazi couldn’t find the net.
The second-half was an even affair until Dean Smith brought on John McGinn and Andre Green. These two players turned the game in Villa’s favour and four minutes later, Grealish fired home the winner from the edge of the box.
Birmingham had a couple of late chances to nick a point, but they fluffed their lines.
Here are our player ratings for today’s derby:
Jed Steer - 7
Didn’t really have much to do the whole game, but he did what was needed of him when he was called into action.
RB: Ahmed Elmohamady - 6
Put in a solid defensive display and made sure that the man he was marking couldn’t have much of an impact on the game.
CB: Tyrone Mings - 8.5
Mings was outstanding once again. He marshalled his troops extremely well, won every header that came his way, and was calm on the ball.
CB: Kourtney Hause - 7
Played at centre-back due to Villa’s injury list, but put in another solid defensive display. In the last three matches he has shown that he has the quality to play for Aston Villa.
LB: Neil Taylor - 6
He only played due to Villa’s long injury list, but, to be fair to him, he put in a solid defensive performance and rarely made a mistake.
RM: Albert Adomah - 4.5
Had a quiet game and when he had the ball he just couldn’t get around his defender.
CM: Glenn Whelan - 5
Couldn’t keep up with the pace of the game and too many passes went astray, especially in the second-half.
CM: Conor Hourihane - 5
Went missing for large portions of the game, but was unlucky not to find himself on the scoresheet when his fierce shot rattled the crossbar.
CM: Jack Grealish - 9
Ran the show in the midfield and the only way Birmingham could stop him most of the time was to foul him. Didn’t let that cowardly attack in the 11th minute phase him, and scored the winner to rub salt into the wounds of Birmingham City fans.
LM: Anwar El Ghazi - 4.5
Missed the best chance of the first-half, and was relatively quiet in the second.
ST: Tammy Abraham - 6
Stuck at it, but he didn’t have the impact that he would have liked. Missed a good chance in the first-half.
SUB: John McGinn - 7.5
Came on for Whelan in the 63rd minute. He made a huge impact and swung the game in Villa’s favour.
SUB: Andre Green - 7
Came on in the 63rd minute for Adomah and had a header cleared off the line within minutes. He added impetus to Villa’s attack, but he did give the ball away a bit too much late on.
SUB: Birkir Bjarnason - N/A
Only played the last 10 minutes or so.