Belfast Telegraph

Collins claims Villa derby point

James Collins rescued a precious point for Aston Villa in a pulsating 1-1 relegation clash with locals rivals Birmingham at St Andrew's.

Blues defender Roger Johnson put Alex McLeish's side in front early in the second period. But Collins made no mistake from close range to salvage a share of the spoils for Villa.

Villa made a positive start and Stewart Downing was only just wide with a powerful 20-yard drive as the home side looked nervy.

John Carew hit the top of the bar after he flicked on a header from Gabriel Agbonlahor following a cross by Kyle Walker, and the Birmingham goal was living a charmed life and Ciaran Clark's cross from the left flank rattled against the crossbar with Ben Foster stranded.

Villa were also the first to threaten at the start of the second half and Carew had a shot deflected wide by Liam Ridgewell from Agbonlahor's low cross.

But in the 49th minute Johnson put Blues ahead after Collins had brought down Alexander Hleb 30 yards out. Craig Gardner failed to make full contact on his low drive but David Murphy flicked the ball on and Johnson applied the finishing touch.

After 73 minutes Collins brought Villa back on level terms. Marc Albrighton's centre found its way to the Welsh international and his shot took a deflection of Ridgewell before beating Foster.

Foster made a fine save to deny Downing after Nathan Delfouneso rolled the ball into his path.

Ridgewell came to City's rescue when he cleared Richard Dunne's header off the line from an Albrighton centre.

Villa were now in control and Foster tipped a dipping drive from Delfouneso onto the bar but they could not find a winner.


From Belfast Telegraph