By Will Butcher

Jack Grealish has lauded teammate Gary Gardner after the midfielder scored his first Aston Villa goal against rivals Birmingham.

The midfielder gave his boyhood club the lead midway through the first half, connecting with a Jordan Ayew free kick to send a wonderful looping header out of the reach of Blues goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak.

Gardner’s goal was not enough to secure all three points though, as David Davis struck in the second half to earn a 1-1 draw for Gary Rowett’s men.

Grealish, who is currently out injured after being substituted against Preston earlier this month, revealed his delight on his personal Twitter account as Gardner struck.

Solihull-born midfielder Gardner has failed to score in 27 league and cup appearances before he struck against rivals Birmingham, after making his Villa debut against Chelsea back in 2011.

Starting alongside Australia international Mile Jedinak and former Crewe Alexandra star Ashley Westwood, Gardner has become a key figure in manager Steve Bruce’s short tenure after starting the last three matches.

Bruce’s side have maintained their unbeaten run since the 55-year-old took over from axed boss Roberto Di Matteo, but will be disappointed not to have been able to hold onto the three points.

Villa next face Blackburn at home on Saturday, as they look to continue their rise up the table.

In other Aston Villa news, Ian Taylor posted this verdict on Twitter after Bruce’s men moved to 16th position with a draw.