Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Villa hold off Boro to reach Championship playoff final

Villa hold off Boro to reach Championship playoff final

"It irks me a little bit but the teams who finished third and fourth are going to Wembley and that's justification of what they've done over the season".

Boss Tony Pulis, who replaced Garry Monk in December, was upset Villa goalkeeper Sam Johnstone was not sent off by referee Mike Dean after he handled outside the area with three minutes left. Villa should win but don't be surprised if we're in for a long evening.

But in the final analysis a lame performance in the final third was the main reason for Boro's limp elimination last night.

He said: "I think it's a disappointing decision from one of our top officials". Mind you, Villa will be hoping for no amusing business this evening.

As expected, key defender Daniel Ayala's knee problem ruled him out for Boro, with young defender Dael Fry handed his first start since February 20.

The clubs will pay tribute to former Aston Villa defender Jlloyd Samuel, who sadly passed away at the age of 37 following a auto crash in Cheshire this morning.

Villa centre-back James Chester wasted the best chance of the first period when he hooked his shot wide from close range.

In truth, the Villans had the game in control and deservedly progressed to the final, but it's another season in the Championship for Boro.

From then on, Villa comfortably held out to make it to the final.

But the pattern of play on the restart followed the first with Boro unable to prey upon the nerves of their unconvincing, below-par hosts.

There was a lack of goals here but no shortage of drama on a raucous night at Villa Park, with Stewart Downing's 88th-minute free-kick coming within the width of the crossbar of forcing extra-time.

Villa entered the playoffs having conceded 42 and are now in the final, still having conceded 42 as their defence put on two wonderful displays against Middlesbrough in the semi-finals.

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