Aston Villa have earned themselves a shot at Sky Bet Championship promotion following a 1-0 aggregate win over Middlesbrough in the Play-Off Semi-Final.
The hosts started brightly, with Jack Grealish having an effort blocked and James Bree flashing a fierce effort wide. Middlesbrough’s first opening came just before the quarter of an hour mark when George Friend got in behind, but he overran the ball and collided with Sam Johnstone when a good passing opportunity was on.
Friend was involved again 10 minutes before the break, this time producing a vital block to deny Conor Hourihane from tapping home. The biggest opportunity of the first half fell to James Chester, but he fired wide when the Villa Park faithful were expecting to net the bulge – and that was the final goalmouth action of a scrappy first half.
After the break, Middlesbrough threatened first with Mo Besic’s low drive skimming just wide of the far post, but then it was wave after wave of Villa pressure. Lewis Grabban came close not once, not twice, but three times, and a curling effort from Grealish with 15 minutes to go was clawed to safety by the excellent Darren Randolph.
Middlesbrough did rattle the woodwork in the closing stages from Stewart Downing’s free-kick, but Steve Bruce’s men would not be denied a place at Wembley, holding on to the first-leg advantage given to them by Mile Jedinak.
The Villans will now meet Fulham under the arch on Saturday 26th May 2018, with Premier League promotion the prize on offer.