The 1990/91 season was a decent one by City’s standards. After surviving a battle against relegation the previous season, City spent almost all of the new campaign in the top half of the table. They even prospered after their saviour Howard Kendall, who had arrived at City in December 1989, left the blues after 11 months to re-take charge at Everton, leaving Peter Reid as the new City manager.
And when City went to Villa Park in April 1991, the blues were 4th in the league, 1 point ahead of United in 5th and had a golden opportunity of finishing above their neighbours for the first time since the 70’s. Villa though, had swapped placed with City. After challenging for the title 12 months earlier, the Midlands club found themselves three points above the relegation zone, and a home match against City didn’t help their cause.
The blues had won 2-1 a year earlier and after just five minutes on the clock, they looked in the mood for improving on that scoreline. Niall Quinn and Mark Brennan played the ball nicely in midfield, with the latter releasing David White, who finished with his left foot, firing across Nigel Spink in the Villa goal.
Route One football brought City their second goal. Tony Coton’s long punt upfield was headed on by Quinn and White out-muscled the Villa defender and produced a delicate lob over Spink to make it 2-0 to City and have the visiting supporters in dreamland.
City were dominant, however Villa did miss a couple of chances through Ian Olney, who was denied by Coton before David Platt put wide of the goal when clean through.
And the bleus made them pay in the second half with a devastating attacking display that could have yielded more goals than the match did. Mark Ward thumped a powerful shot against the post with Spink well beaten, before White tore the Villa defence apart again.
Ward played the winger onside and White’s pace left the defender in his wake, and his cross was met on the run by Brennan, who fired home to make it 3-0. Villa were gifted an opportunity to reduce the deficit when Steve Redmond was judged to have handled on the line and Platt just about squeezed it past the diving Coton.
But any chance of a Villa comeback were snuffed out by White. Quinn’s ball through the defence found White in acres of space and his right foot shot from the edge of the penalty area went in off the post to complete his hat-trick.
Villa will have been glad for the full time whistle, not least to see the back of White, but the winger still had a final part to play in the match. Another Quinn header found White on the left and, after cutting inside the defender, hit another right foot shot that beat Spink at his near post to claim his fourth of the night.
City won 5-1 but with 4 goals and an assist, the night firmly belonged to David White.