28 October ~ This weekend sees the first Second City derby in the second tier since 1987. This season Aston Villa have struggled early on while Birmingham City have been challenging towards the top, but going into the match just under three decades ago their fortunes were different.
Villa went into the clash at St Andrew’s third in the table, just four points behind Division Two leaders Middlesbrough and three behind Bradford City. Birmingham, meanwhile, were plodding along in tenth place.
It took Garry Thompson 13 minutes to put the visitors ahead in front of 27,789, heading in a looping cross from Kevin Gage. Yet just five minutes later Birmingham were level, Andy Kennedy breaking clear before hitting a shot across Nigel Spink and into the bottom corner of the net – which the ball then went through and out the other side. On 52 minutes Gage again sent a high cross into the box and the ball was met with the head of Thompson, who directed it beyond the grasp of Tony Godden.
Villa’s victory kept them in touch with the top two and though three draws in a row followed this match, they won the five after that and moved top. Despite a wobble towards the end they secured an immediate return to the top division by finishing runners-up. Meanwhile Birmingham’s season went downhill and they ended up in 18th, avoiding a relegation play-off by just two points.