We’re going to Wembley! It was 90 minutes of nerves, but Villa’s 0-0 draw at home to Middlesbrough sets up a meeting with Fulham and a chance to get into the Premier League.
Cagey is probably the best word to describe the opening exchanges. James Bree’s long shot which flew high and wide the only piece action of real note.
Then, George Friend, who had given Sam Johnstone a war wound moments earlier, made an excellent last ditch tackle to prevent Conor Hourihane from profiting from Albert Adomah’s square ball.
Our final chance of the half came when James Chester took down Lewis Grabban’s nod down in the area before half volleying the ball wide.
Despite having most of the possession, Middlesbrough didn’t create much, Muhamed Besic dragging a long shot wide of Johnstone’s post – one of their few attempts.
And Villa used the away sides dominance to their advantage on the counter. Adomah’s low ball found its way to Grabban in the box, but Darren Randolph was on hand to foil the Bournemouth loanee.
Then Grabban made space for himself before hitting 40 yard shot which Randolph had to tip over. It was all Villa at this point despite Boro being the side needing the goal.
Soon after Jack Grealish cut inside before curling a shot which had to be tipped onto the post.
However, this is Aston Villa football club, and as you know, we never do things the easy way. Johnstone had a rush of blood to the head and ran out of his area to save an Adama Traore shot. In fairness, the goalkeeper had been having a solid game up until then, but still Johnstone was lucky to just receive yellow.
Then from the resulting free-kick, Stewart Downing smacked the crossbar. The metal bar stopping the ball like Villa stopping Middlesbrough’s Premier League dreams.
And Villa held out, once again the defence a huge part of the result. Even James Bree who had a steady game filling in for Ahmed Elmohamady.
It’s funny how so much can rely on one game, but Villa versus Fulham on the 26th of May really is make or break for both sides. Up the Villa!
Words by Harry Trend (@HazaTrand) // Follow us on Twitter (@claretandview)