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2017/18 English League Championship, 2017/2018 English League Championship

Birmingham City and Aston Villa in derby stalemate

Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Birmingham and Aston Villa fought out a goalless draw in an entertaining Championship derby at St Andrew's.

With Villa chasing promotion and Birmingham battling to pull away from the relegation zone, there was a lot more than local pride at stake.

The arch-rivals both had excellent chances to win the game, Jota wasting Birmingham's best opportunity while Villa's Jonathan Kodjia was denied by goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak and Keinan Davis hit the City bar.

Birmingham, who have failed to beat Villa in their last 11 league meetings, are now two points clear of the relegation zone while sixth-placed Villa are level on points with Leeds in fifth.

Villa dominated the opening stages but struggled to really test Kuszczak, with Kodjia's long-range drive comfortably dealt with before Glenn Whelan saw his shot deflected wide.

From the resulting corner, delayed after Villa's Robert Snodgrass was bombarded with cardboard clappers thrown by Birmingham fans, John Terry had a weak header easily collected by Kuszczak.

Birmingham finally managed to get a foothold in the game with record signing Jota, making his home debut after being hit by hamstring problems following his switch from Brentford, trying his luck from 20 yards in the 29th minute.

David Davis' cross was dealt with by Villa goalkeeper Sam Johnstone only for the on-loan Manchester United man to see his clearance charged down by Isaac Vassell, with the ball flying narrowly wide.

There was more relied for Johnstone in the 38th minute when Cheikh N'Doye headed a cross straight at him from 12 yards.

Birmingham carried that momentum into the second half and should have taken the lead in the 49th minute after a mistake by Villa's Conor Hourihane.

Hourihane's misplaced pass was collected by Jota, who raced towards goal but, with just Johnstone to beat, lifted his shot wildly over the bar.

The Villa goal continued to live a charmed life as substitute Sam Gallagher stabbed narrowly over the top from six yards after 59 minutes.

Having soaked up so much Birmingham pressure, Villa then came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 63rd minute when only a wonder save at his near post by Kuszczak kept out Kodjia's header.

Terry then flicked a free-kick from Hourihane agonisingly wide three minutes later.

Now it was Birmingham's turn to ride their luck and they needed the woodwork to come to their rescue after 77 minutes when the ball broke off Kuszczak to Davis, who saw his angled drive cannon back to safety.

English League Championship Standings

POS Team GP GD PTS
1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 18 +19 41
2 Cardiff City 18 +12 37
3 Sheffield United 18 +11 36
4 Aston Villa 18 +9 32
5 Bristol City 18 +9 31
6 Middlesbrough 18 +9 29
7 Derby County 17 +6 29
8 Nottingham Forest 18 -1 27
9 Ipswich Town 17 +4 26
10 Leeds United 18 +3 26
11 Sheffield Wednesday 18 +2 25
12 Preston North End 18 +1 25
13 Brentford 18 +2 23
14 Fulham 18 0 23
15 Norwich City 18 -6 23
16 Queens Park Rangers 18 -6 21
17 Barnsley 17 0 20
18 Millwall 18 0 19
19 Reading 17 -3 19
20 Hull City 18 -2 18
21 Birmingham City 18 -18 15
22 Burton Albion 18 -23 14
23 Bolton Wanderers 18 -16 13
24 Sunderland 18 -12 11

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