Much-needed derby victory for Sherwoodas Villa beat local rivals Birmingham
Aston Villa 1 Birmingham City 0
Rudy Gestede settled a scrappy Second City derby as Aston Villa edged past rivals Birmingham in the League Cup.
The striker's second-half header sealed a 1-0 win to lift some of the building pressure on boss Tim Sherwood.
Villa had lost their last two games, and their last two derbies, to West Brom and Leicester before being booed off at the break here. But the introduction of Jack Grealish at half-time helped turn the game in Villa's favour following a pedestrian first half.
Sky Bet Championship side Birmingham came closest through Jacques Maghoma and more than matched their hosts until falling behind but could not live with Villa's renewed energy in the second half.
Maghoma, one of three Birmingham changes, dragged the game's first chance wide after Clayton Donaldson made a nuisance of himself before the returning David Davis denied Villa after eight minutes.
The midfielder threw himself infront of Gestede, on his first start in almost a month, and then Ashley Westwood in the area but rather than build on the opening Villa wilted.
Frustrated, the home fans jeered Villa off and Sherwood responded by replacing Joleon Lescott and Agbonlahor, who seemed to pick up a first-half injury, with Grealish and Jordan Ayew.
It gave the hosts much-needed impetus, and their improved invention was rewarded after 62 minutes as Gestede grabbed his second of the season.
The striker had failed to make a lasting impact in the first half but brilliantly dispatched Jordan Amavi's cross into the bottom corner from eight yards.
Afterwards, Sherwood hailed Grealish - who has yet to decide on his international allegiances to either Ireland or England as "excellent when he came on."