London (AFP) – Steve Bruce remains unbeaten as Aston Villa manager but his side were unable to get the better of one of his former clubs Birmingham City as their Championship match ended 1-1 on Sunday.

Bruce, who played for Birmingham and had a six year stint as manager before upping sticks in 2007, has so far guided Villa to two draws and a win since replacing Roberto di Matteo, who was sacked after a poor start to their second tier campaign.

Villa took the lead through an excellent header by Gary Gardner, in the first derby between the two sides since 2011, but his goal in the first-half was cancelled out by David Davis’ effort with less than 20 minutes remaining.

Brice offered former fans’ favourite Gabriel Agbonlahor a chance at redeeming himself — after his off the field antics alienated him from the supporters and the club in their relegation battle last season — and sent him on late in the second-half.

The draw sees Birmingham move above Sheffield Wednesday into seventh spot, 10 points adrift of leaders Newcastle, whilst Villa are four points above the relegation zone having played 15 matches.

Newcastle chalked up a sixth successive victory as the Championship leaders cemented their position with a 2-1 win at Preston on Saturday.

Second placed Brighton are three points behind Newcastle after they hammered promotion rivals Norwich 5-0.

The Seagulls are unbeaten in nine league games thanks to Glenn Murray’s hat-trick and further goals from Lewis Dunk and Anthony Knockaert.

Huddersfield, who led the table for several weeks, are third after a dismal 5-0 defeat at Fulham.

The Terriers have now lost three of their last four games and are three points adrift of Brighton.