Match: Aston Villa v Birmingham City
Date: April 23, 2017
Venue: Villa Park
Weather: 12C, partly cloudy
Gabriel Agbonlahor (68)
Gabriel Agbonlahor made a sensational return to action with the goal which settled the Second City derby in Villa’s favour.
It was the first of the season for the experienced striker, who has been sidelined by injury for the past three months, but it was one he will treasure.
A frequent thorn in Blues’ side down the years, he smashed home a rising shot at the Holte End to send the claret-and-blue faithful into raptures.
After a rousing pre-match minute’s applause for Ugo Ehiogu, who died on Friday, the opening 45 minutes were tentative in the extreme.
It was the 38th minute, in fact, before we witnessed a serious attempt, home fans breathing a sigh of relief as Che Adams volleyed well over from an inviting position.
Villa’s response was immediate, Leandro Bacuna driving hard and low across the face of goal, with no-one on hand to capitalise.
Although James Chester headed not far over, it was the 64th minute before either keeper had to make a save, Sam Johnstone tipping away a low shot from David Davis.
But by then the complexion of the game had altered dramatically.
Within three minutes of his arrival, Agbonlahor was booked for an altercation with Blues defender Ryan Shotton.
And in the 68th minute he smashed the ball into the roof of the net from close range when it fell to him following a goalmouth scramble.
VILLA: Johnstone; Hutton, Chester (c), Baker, Taylor; Lansbury, Jedinak; Adomah (G Gardner 75), Bacuna, Grealish (Agbonlahor 59); Hogan (Hourihane 83). Unused subs: Bunn, Elphick, Bree, Amavi.
BIRMINGHAM: Kuszczak; Nsue, Shotton, Robinson, Grounds; Adams, C Gardner, Kieftenbeld (Kieta 89), Davis, Maghoma (Stewart 84); Jutkiewwicz. Unused subs: Legzdins, Tesche, Gleeson, Dacres-Cogley, Blelik.
Referee: Simon Hooper
Assistant Referee 1: Adam Crysell
Assistant referee 2: Neil Davies
Fourth Official: James Linington