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Aston Villa

Grealish attacker pleads guilty to assault

16:10 EAT 11/03/2019
The Aston Villa captain was attacked during Sunday's derby with Birmingham City before netting the winner for Dean Smith's side

The Birmingham City supporter who attacked Jack Grealish during Aston Villa's 1-0 win at St. Andrew's has pleaded guilty to pitch invasion and assault.

Villa captain Grealish was punched from behind by the pitch invader in the early stages of Sunday's derby.

West Midlands Police confirmed Paul Mitchell, 27, was charged after the game and he appeared at Birmingham Magistrates' Court on Monday.

Birmingham City confirmed Mr Mitchell has been banned from the Championship club for life.

Grealish showed no ill effects from the incident and went on to score the only goal in his side's 1-0 victory before leaping over the advertising hoarding to celebrate with the away supporters.

The police made four arrests in total for suspected assault or violent disorder offences.

Former Birmingham forward David Cotterill, meanwhile, believes that armed police may be required to ensure repeats of the incident are avoided.

Manchester United defender Chris Smalling was approached by an Arsenal fan during the Gunners' 2-0 win over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, and ex-Wales international Cotterill believes players require more protection.

"It's a disgrace; very dangerous for the players because the pitch invader could have had a weapon or anything really, we need to stamp down on this as soon as possible," he told BBC Radio Wales.

"The guy who ran on the pitch has gone there to cause havoc, not watch the football.

"We need more security. I am not condoning guns at games but if the police are going to be armed, I think that is the way forward.

"It needs to be top-end stuff, the players need protecting more than anything else.

"Otherwise we are heading back to where we were years ago with giant fences, and that isn't good for anyone who wants to enjoy the game."