Aston Villa player attacked by fan at Birmingham Express News

Birmingham’s Championship match at home to rivals Aston Villa (live on ESPN+) was marred by disgraceful scenes early in the first half as a supporter ran onto the pitch and threw a punch at the back of Jack Grealish’s head.

The match at St. Andrews was barely 10 minutes old when a fan came onto the field of play and approached Grealish, the Villa midfielder.

The fan then swung a punch from behind and caught Grealish, who fell to the ground. A steward then managed to restrain the supporter and marched him off the pitch. West Midlands police later confirmed the supporter had been arrested. Grealish later scored to make it 1-0 to Villa on 66 minutes.

An EFL spokesman said: “The EFL condemns the mindless actions of the individual who encroached on to the pitch at St. Andrews on Sunday afternoon. It’s a situation no player should ever be faced with.

“In all circumstances the playing surface is for players, not supporters and those playing in the game must be able to do so safe in the knowledge they will not be subjected to this type of behaviour.

“Whilst this incident falls within the remit of the Football Association, we will work with all the relevant parties to addeess the issue of player and match officials’ safety on the pitch and ensure the appropriate action is taken.”

Grealish did not require treatment and was able to resume play in the Second City derby, with Aston Villa starting the day in 14th place and Birmingham sitting 10th, five points off the playoffs.

Sunday’s act of violence was not the first time the Midlands derby had witnessed a flash point. In 2002, a fan was jailed for four months after entering the field of play and taunting Peter Enckelman, the Aston Villa goalkeeper who had conceded a goal in Birmingham’s 3-0 victory at St. Andrews.

Michael Harper, 26, from Solihull, was sentenced at Birmingham Magistrates Court after admitting to running onto the pitch before the clash with Enckelman.

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