Last Updated: 16/01/11 1:53pm
So it's honours even on a day that the defenders take the plaudits, not least Johnson and Collins for getting the goals! Thanks for your company and don't forget to follow the report and reaction next! For now, it's goodbye from me!
CASUAL! Blues pump the long ball into the box and it should be Friedel's but he is far too casual and Zigic beats him to the ball but he nods it inches wide!
Ferguson winces in pain after taking studs to the chest from Albrighton, while it looks like a flare has been let off in the ground. Lets hope we don't get the scenes of the Carling Cup!
Bentley tries his luck from long range but it's no repeat of the goal his scored against Arsenal for Spurs!
Bannan delivers to the back stick but Dunne has his hands all over Gardner and Blues win a free-kick!
Blues have the ball in Villa's area with Bowyer but he can't find a team-mate and Villa win a free-kick...
YELLOW: Collins is unfashionable late on his challenge on Ferguson and he gets a booking for his troubles!
BLUES SUB: It's Derbyshire who makes way for Bowyer and it looks like McLeish is settling for a point!
CHANCE! Albrighton stands a ball to the back post and Dunne heads goal wards! Ridgewell clears but only as far as Collins who hits it wide!
Blues have had Villa penned back in the last five mins but an error from Ridgewell invites pressure onto the hosts.
I'm surprised Bentley has lasted this long, I saw Bowyer getting ready for action moments ago, perhaps he will be replacing the on-loan man?
Bentley eyes up the free-kick but he's not going to be the hero on this occasion as he fires it over!
...BLOCK! Gardner turns the ball goalwards and Derbyshire tries to poke it home but Dunne puts his body on the line and Villa survive!
CHANCE! Agbonlahor finds Delfouneso in the area, who tees up Downing for the shot but Foster gets his angles right and he makes a super stop!
The ball comes into the box and Collins gets on the end of it and he powers the ball past Foster with the aid of a deflection off Ridgewell! Game on!
VILLA SUBS: Bannan comes on for Reo-Coker, while Carew makes way for Delfouneso. So youth replaces experience!
Blues fail to muster a chance from the set-piece but Clark is equally wasteful with his cross which sails out for a Blues goal kick.
Blues enjoy a respite from Villa's pressure as Collins commits a bookable foul on Bentley but escapes without caution.
Interestingly I've just learnt that Johnson is the sixth defender/midfielder to score for Birmingham since a striker last did! That's what you call utility!
Not if Foster has anything to say as he prods the ball behind for a corner and then holds onto Downing's long ranger!
YELLOW! Carr goes into the book after seemingly winning the ball in his challenge on Clark! Will this be costly?
CHANCE! Blues rampage again and Carr's ball is deflected into Gardner's path and he smacks it on the volley but gets it horribly wrong!
...SAVE! Derbyshire drives a low shot but Friedel makes an exceptional save and Villa clear their lines! What a save from the 39-year-old!!
Just saw a replay of Clark's chance - it actually hit Johnson's arm but Clattenburg was unsighted! A let off for Blues!
CHANCE! Clark wins his latest tussle with Bentley and he gets into Blues' box before seeing his cross-cum shot go inches wide!
Walker wins Villa a free-kick but Blues are resolute in defence and Murphy makes the block from Albrighton's cross!
Johnson is down the other end doing some defending but Foster helps his team-mate out and holds onto the ball!
Gardner's free-kick is going wide but Murphy deflects it into the path of Johnson and he slots it home! First blood to Blues!
Collins hangs a leg out as Hleb tries to wriggle past him and Blues win a free-kick in a useful position...
Downing leads the charge but he tries to play a cute ball which is easily cut out. Blues gift possession back to Villa and Carew is found in the box but Ridgewell makes a the block and benefits from the decision. Goal kick to Blues.
Right, I'm going to wolf down a banana and hopefully I'll be done by the time the second-half is with us!
It seems you can't please some people as Dave emails in to say: "Most people would say you are doing a good job on commentating the Brum derby but not me...I'm trying to study for an exam. Make it seem boring so i can get some work done!"
Villa fail to capitalise from the free-kick and it's goalless at St Andrews. Both teams had chances to open the scoring in what was an absorbing first-half.
CHANCE! Albrighton's ball causes problems in Blues area and Carr gives away a cheap foul on the left by line to give Villa one last chance...
Clark is starting to win his head-to-head with Bentley as he makes another good decision in blocking the midfielder's shot! Is Bentley tiring?
Bentley tries to buy a corner but Clark does his job and Villa win a goal kick. Not much time left in this opening period.
Carr makes something happen as he bombs down the right and he picks out Hleb who shoots first time but Collins makes the block and Blues have a corner!
So perhaps expect the giant that is Zigic to come on in the second-half, or the maybe former Villa front man and PL goal machine Phillips might make an appearance?!
Bentley plays a first-time through ball aiming for Derbyshire but the striker is still showing signs he is feeling that ankle knock!
I think that Albrighton is breathing a sigh of relief there - interestingly the only penalty Blues have won was in the Carling Cup game!
PENALTY SHOUTS! First Gardner's cross hits Walker on the arm but it's too to give it. The move continues as Murphy gets into the box and goes down under pressure from Albrighton but Clattenburg says no penalty!
...Carr finds Fahey in support and he plays a clever ball to the far post aiming for Gardner but Walker manages to hook it away for a throw-in.
...it opens up for Hleb but he fails to pull the trigger, opting to lay it off to Bentley who is closed down by Clark and the chance goes amiss.
While this one has failed to deliver goals yet, it's being played at such a good tempo and I've been really impressed with Bentley so far. You wouldn't have guessed he's only started one PL game before today's this season!
...Downing's corner is kept alive by Dunne but Carr is on the line and he manages to head it clear! Dunne is winning his aerial battle with Ridgewell on set-pieces.
...CHANCE! And Ferguson lays the ball off to Fahey on the edge of the area but he doesn't catch it properly and Friedel gathers.
It looks like Derbyshire twisted his ankle when jostling with Reo-Coker. He's trying to run it off but it doesn't look too promising for the former Blackburn man.
Villa fail to threaten from the free-kick and Blues look to break but Reo-Coker comes to his side's rescue with a ball-winning challenge on Derbyshire.
Clark does superbly to make an interception as Bentley collects the ball. The same cannot be said of Murphy who is struggling at left-back as he fouls Albrighton!
BAR! Villa come on the attack and Clark's cross hits the bar before Blues get the ball away to safety!
MISS! Walker is caught in possession by Gardner who picks out Derbyshire in the six yard box but he makes an air shot in his attempt! What a chance!
BAR! Walker is the source as he gets the better of Murphy and he spots Carew at the back stick. The striker powers a header against the cross bar but it wouldn't have counted with Carew penalised for pushing.
Friedel, making his 250th successive appearance in the PL hoofs one long but it bypasses his team-mates and Foster collects.
Birmingham are looking inventive on the ball today with Hleb and Bentley at the heart of another spell of possession.
There's been a lot of probing so far by both sides but neither have carved out genuine chances since the opening minutes.
Fahey leads Blues latest attack and he plays a neat one-two with Hleb before skiing his shot. Good move until the finish!
Agbonlahor comes on the attack and runs at Carr but the Blues skipper uses all his experience to force the Villa striker wide and Blues win a goal kick!
Bentley turns away from Clark with a clever flick but Blues' attack peters out. Blues new boy Bentley has looked bright at the start of this match!
Young Villa defender Clark will be one to watch today with Bentley attacking him down the wing. Clark is helped out by Reo-Coker on this occasion, who wins back possession for the visitors.
Gardner, the lifelong Blues fan who spent five seasons at Villa, gets no love from his old team-mates as he takes one in the face and he requires treatment on the touchline.
Blues enjoy some territorial advantage until Hleb loses out and Gardner is goaded into committing a foul.
BAR! Walker enjoys his first roam into Blues' area and he stands a superb ball to Agbonlahor who nods it goalwards and Carew flicks it on strikes the bar!
I have to say, I was not expecting such a frenetic start to this derby. But fair play to both sides for setting the stalls out early!
Birmingham have a corner and Fahey picks out Johnson at the backpost but he can't direct his header on target! Blues are dangerous from set-pieces!
CHANCE! Bentley takes the free-kick and Gardner is found on the edge of the area and he goes for goal but he can't keep his effort down!
YELLOW! Bentley leads Birmingham's first attack but he is recklessly taken out by Dunne who gets an early booking.
CHANCE! Villa come on the attack again and Carew sets up Downing who hammers a low shot but it travels narrowly wide of the goal. What a start by the visitors!
CHANCE! Foster dwells on the ball with Downing harassing the Blues goalkeeper and his clearance falls to Agbonlahor who beats Johnson and blasts a shot goalwards but he somehow skies it with the goal gaping!
Villa have won just one of their last nine Premier League games and have gone 11 matches without a clean sheet.
Rich, did you know that no Birmingham striker has found the net in any of the Blues' last eight league games! Maybe this is why Derbyshire has been given the lone front role?
Rich from Solihull sends his thoughts: "After last season's finishes of 6th and 9th, It's killing me too currently see the Midlands teams in such disarray and in a relegation battle. As a Blue, I think we need a striker who'll give you 15 goals a season, as Cameron and Zigic just don't fit the bill. Anyway, I'm going 1-1: Johnson and Agbonlahor."
Chris is on the charm offensive as he writes: ''Hello Elliot, good morning to a great commentator! This is going to be an absolute cracker for us today, very tough to predict! I'm disappointed with Villa this season, they just haven't been at the races! While Birmingham have been OK but still not is what is expected of them! I don't understand why Downing is a striker in this match while he is really a winger, don't get it? I'm happy to see Derbyshire get a starting place, he is a good man and can be great at times! I'm also expecting Bentley to shine today as well, he is pacey, has decent delivery and can nick a goal at times! I'm backing Birmingham today and saying a 2-0 win will happen. I think Villa will have plenty of chances but will be very wasteful with them!''
Andy in Hull drops me a line: "I'm Villa and proud but this season we have been dreadful, too many insipid performances and unless we show some real backbone at St Andrews we will get rolled over. Blues are not free scorers but by the same score not easy to get past. Defensively they are very hard to break down. By contrast Villa's defence is one of the worst and unless we boss the midfield and keep possession they will cut through us. Walker is in for a baptism of fire and we will need our back 4 to be fully focused on their runners out wide. Surprised that Blues appear to be playing a lone frontman and not Jerome who must be injured, and with Zigic and Phillips on the bench. But given Villa's poor record on the road this season I can see at best a draw but if I was pushed for a winner I'd not bet against a home win and that isn't easy for someone to say who has followed Villa for more than 30 years. I really want a Villa win but I can't see how unless we start converting the chances we create during games. Come on Villa."
And speaking of Agbonlahor Martin, the England international has scored three goals in five league games against Birmingham, and also netted in this season's Carling Cup tie between the sides.
In response to Cian's comment, the last time Birmingham beat Aston Villa in the league, current Villan Emile Heskey was on the scoresheet for the Blues!
Martin from Cork lends his thoughts: "I'm really happy Houllier went with Carew today rather than play Gabby up top on his own. I just hope we play 4-4-2 rather than playing Gabby on the left where he is wasted."
Cian kicks off proceedings: "Hello, With David Bentley starting I think Birmingham will win 2-1 with Gardner and Fahey for Birmingham and Carew for Villa." A very precise prediction there!
SKY BET's Tom Davies emails in to say: "Were in the second city for the first of today's derbies and it's a game both sides will want to win. It looks like it'll be a tight game, with under 2.5 goals being backed at 8/13. Birmingham will take a defensive approach and the Blues can be backed at 13/2 to win 1-0. David Bentley could make his debut and is 14/1 to open the scoring. For Villa Agbonlahor is 7/1."
The last time these two sides met, it was the Carling Cup cracker and I was also on commentary duty for Blues' 2-1 win over Villa. Both sides are much-changed from that game but I'm still hoping for an open contest, unlike the Villa Park clash earlier in the season which was a dour 0-0!
For those who have the privilege, Sky Sports HD1's Super Sunday Hat Trick is getting under way with none other than Richard Keys hosting the triple-bill. But who's needs Keys when Ball is at the helm!!
So I'm sure you are itching to let me know your thoughts ahead of today's Midlands derby. You can get in touch with me throughout today's coverage either at email@example.com or @ballell on Twitter.
Aston Villa: Friedel, Clark, Dunne, Collins, Walker, Albrighton, Petrov (c), Reo-Coker, Downing, Carew, Agbonlahor. Subs: Marshall, Pires, Delfouneso, Cuellar, Bannan, Hogg, Baker.
Birmingham: Foster, Carr (C), Johnson, Ridgewell, Murphy, Bentley, Ferguson, Hleb, Gardner, Fahey, Derbyshire. Subs: Taylor, Bowyer, Phillips, Zigic, Beausejour, Mutch, Jiranek.