BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND // James Collins scored a second-half equaliser to earn a point for Aston Villa in their 1-1 draw at Birmingham City in an entertaining Second City derby.
The Wales defender pounced eight yards out to volley home a deflected shot in the 72nd minute to help lift Villa out of the relegation zone.
Roger Johnson had put Birmingham ahead in the 49th minute but the hosts were on the back foot for most of the match at St Andrew's.
Villa's fifth point from last nine games leaves them fourth from bottom. Birmingham is a point and a place above its local rival.
Both sides created a host of clearcut chances in an open first half.
Villa hit the bar twice — through Norway striker John Carew and left-back Ciaran Clark — while Gabriel Agbonlahor also came close with a curling effort.
At the other end, Alexander Hleb had a shot cleared off the line, who also gave David Bentley a debut after the right winger's loan move from Tottenham last week.
The free-flowing action continued in the second-half, and Johnson gave Birmingham the lead when he volleyed in from 10 yards for his second goal of the season after Craig Gardner's skewed free kick was helped on by David Murphy.
The centre-back almost scored an own goal five minutes later when he deflected Clark's cross just wide of the home goalkeeper Ben Foster's left-hand post.
Villa laid siege on the Birmingham's goal in the final 30 minutes and was rewarded by Collins' close-range strike, which deflected off Birmingham defender Liam Ridgewell and into the bottom corner.
Villa was denied in a late winner when Foster saved from Stewart Downing, Ridgewell cleared Richard Dunne's header off the line and the substitute Nathan Delfouneso crashed a 25-yard shot against the crossbar.