Aston Villa set to face Fulham at Wembley in Championship Play-Off Final

Aston Villa set to face Fulham at Wembley in Championship Play-Off Final

samstraw
Sam Straw
Aston VillaJohnstone, Bree, Chester, Terry, Hutton, Jedinak, Snodgrass, Hourihane (Whelan, min. 85), Grealish, Adomah (Bjarnason, min. 90+1), Grabban (Kodjia, min. 79).
Middlesbrough Randolph, Shotton (Fabio, min. 82), Fry, Gibson, Friend, Howson (Gestede, min. 73), Clayton, Besic, Traoré, Assombalonga (Bamford, min. 68), Downing.
REFEREEMike Dean. 40,505 Spectators.
INCIDENTSChampionship Play-Off Semi-Final Match Played At Villa Park Stadium.
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I'll be back soon - stay tuned for the match report, and much more to come on VAVEL UK as the football never stops!

I've been Sam Straw, and I hope you enjoyed following tonight's events in the Championship play-offs. 

21.45. As for Boro, their travelling supporters will go home very disappointed. They did not do enough over the two legs, especially attacking wise, to secure a place in the final. They will have to settle for at least another season in the Championship. 

21.44. That's it then. Aston Villa secure their progression through to the Championship play-off final on May 26 where they will face Fulham at Wembley. A superb defensive display by the Villans yet again. 

FULL-TIME: Aston Villa (1) 0-0 (0) Middlesbrough - Villa are on their way to Wembley! 

90' Aston Villa Substitution: Birkir Bjarnason replaces Adomah. 'Oooh Albert Adomah' rings round Villa Park. 

89' CROSSBAR! Downing hits the crossbar from the free-kick! Is that a sign that it is not going to be Boro's night?

87' BIG CALL! A long ball from Boro causes chaos and Johnstone handles the ball outside of his area. However, he has only been booked by the referee. Free-kick now for Boro on the edge of the area...

86' Fabio delivers a teasing ball into the area but neither Gestede or Bamford could get on the end of it. Nervy moment for the hosts. 

85' Aston Villa Substitution: Glenn Whelan replaces Hourihane. 

84' Time is slowly running out for Boro here. They simply do not look like scoring. 

?82' Middlesbrough Substitution: Fabio is on in place of Shotton. Final roll of the dice from Pulis. 

79' Aston Villa Substitution: Jonathan Kodjia replaces Grabban. 

78' Snodgrass fires a free-kick in a dangerous position straight into the wall. 

75' CLOSE! Grealish tries his luck with a curling strike from range but Randolph reads it well and keeps it out. 

73' Middlesbrough Substitution: Gestede is on in place of Jonny Howson. Boro are finally going for it now. 

70' A long-range strike from Grabban is tipped over by Randolph. 

68' Middlesbrough Substitution: Patrick Bamford replaces Assombalonga. 

65' Boro yet to have an effort on target in this second leg. They need to change that statistic to have any hope of securing a trip to Wembley on May 26. 

63' Surely Pulis will have to start thinking about making a change soon. Time to throw on Gestede? 

60' HUGE SAVE! Randolph keeps his side in this tie. Grealish feeds Adomah down the left with a delightful pass, before the winger's cross is met by Grabban but his prodded effort is kept out by the Boro keeper. 

57' Superb period of play for Villa here as they attack towards the Holte End. Boro surviving the storm for now...

56' Adomah gets the better of Shotton and delivers a great ball into the box but no-one is on the end of it.

52' CHANCE! Muhamed Beši? has an opportunity to charge towards goal for Boro. However, he fires a shot just wide of the right-hand post when the better option was perhaps to play Downing in down the left. Greedy. 

51' Downing plays a ball across the area but no-one in a Boro shirt is there gambling to get on the end of it. 

49' Just a reminder for you all. The away goal rule does not apply in the Football League play-offs. For example, if Boro win tonight's match by a 2-1 scoreline, it would only force extra-time. 

48' In my opinion, the first goal of this second leg is going to be hugely important. If Villa can get it, it is difficult to see a way back into the game for Boro. However, if Boro can find one, they may then have the momentum to go on and win the tie. 

46' We're back underway in the second half of this intriguing contest. Can Boro find a way back into this tie? We will soon find out...

As expected, it has been a very tight and cagey affair between these two with no clear-cut chances in the first half. Boro have looked dangerous on a number of occasions but will have to improve their end product if they are to get back into this tie. 

HALF-TIME: Aston Villa (1) 0-0 (0) Middlesbrough

Three minutes of added on time at the end of the first half...

45' The Hutton vs Traoré battle has been an interesting one tonight. Hutton has just picked up a yellow card for fouling Traoré on the right-hand side after the winger got the better of him. 

43' Superb individual run by Britt Assombalonga on the counter attack for Boro but he is stopped by a last ditch challenge. He has been isolated for the majority of this first half but that provided a glimpse of what he is capable of. 

42' Adomah gets the better of Ryan Shotton before the Boro defender brings him down. Free-kick in a dangerous position for Villa coming up here.

38' A corner from Grealish causes a scramble in the area as Boro fail to clear, with the ball eventually falling to centre-back James Chester who could only fire wide.

37' Stewart Downing whips a cross into the area but it is gathered by Johnstone. 

34' WHAT A CHALLENGE! Adomah gets a chance to run at the Boro defence again before playing the ball across to Hourihane. However, just when it looks like the midfielder is going to prod home, Friend comes across with a superb challenge to deny him. 

33' The home crowd are urging their side to move further up the pitch. They have been dropping deeper and deeper in this first half and have been living very dangerously. 

29' Decent spell that for the away side. However, it ends with a poor cross which goes straight out of play from Traoré. He has been frustrated so far here tonight. 

But it is again cleared, this time by Alan Hutton

28' Another Boro corner...

26' John Terry may need to receive some treatment here. He got caught in the air by Traoré and fell awkwardly. 

23' Boro manage to get a couple of dangerous balls into the area, firstly from Traoré and then Friend. However, both are dealt with by the hosts. 

22' As many expected, this one looks like it is going to be a very tight and cagey affair. 

18' Adomah runs at the Boro defence before laying it off for Hourihane but his shot is tame and straight at Randolph. 

16' First corner of the game goes the way of Boro but it is cleared away.

15' Some great link-up play by Grealish and Albert Adomah there down the left. However, Lewis Grabban could not get on the end of Adomah's cross and Boro clear their lines. 

12' Friend again finds himself in space down the left-hand side. However, he takes far too many touches and catches Villa keeper Sam Johnstone with a strong challenge after a bad touch. He has been given a yellow card by tonight's referee, Mike Dean

10' Oooh! Nervous moment there for Boro. Darren Randolph is closed down quickly by Conor Hourihane and the midfielder manages to block the keeper's clearance. That could have gone anywhere. 

9' Both teams just trying to settle into this game at present. 

6' Jack Grealish's corner falls to Bree just outside the area. He tries his luck but his shot goes well wide of the target. 

3' Stoppage in play as Snodgrass receives treatment. He is now up and ready to return to the action. 

2' George Friend finds himself in space on the edge of the Villa box but he is dealt with well by Villa defence. Superb atmosphere here this evening.

1' We're underway here at Villa Park. Can Boro defy the odds and secure a place at Wembley?

And now Pulis faces the television cameras: "They (the players) have been positive. The performance (in the first leg) was better than the result. We know it is going to be tough but they have got to go out and give everything they have got."

Bruce speaking to Sky Sports ahead of tonight's game: "I would not say we are in charge. We have got an advantage. That is all it is. Let's go and enjoy the match and see if we can win it."

Just 20 minutes to go until kick-off...

Villa Park will pay tribute to ex-Villa defender Jlloyd Samuel ahead of kick-off with a minute's applause following the news that the 37-year-old died in a car crash earlier today in Cheshire. 

Could Rudy Gestede make an impact off the bench for Boro tonight? (picture: Getty Images)
Could Rudy Gestede make an impact off the bench for Boro tonight? (picture: Getty Images / Soccrates Images)

Here is an interesting statistic. Throughout Championship play-off history, all 15 sides who have won the first leg away from home, have gone through to the play-off final...

As for Boro, Pulis has also opted to make one change to his starting line-up. Dael Fry comes in for Daniel Ayala. One positive for Boro supporters is that striker Rudy Gestede has managed to secure a place on the bench after missing the last few weeks through injury. Could he play a big part in the outcome of this play-off semi-final second leg?

Just the one change made by Bruce in his starting line-up for this one then and it was forced. James Bree comes into the team in place of Ahmed Elmohamady who misses out through injury. 

?Middlesbrough Substitutes: Konstantopoulos, Fabio, Cranie, Leadbitter, Harrison, Bamford, Gestede. 

Middlesbrough Starting Line-Up: Randolph, Shotton, Fry, Gibson, Friend, Clayton, Besic, Howson, Traoré, Downing, Assombalonga.

Aston Villa Substitutes: Bunn, Samba, Whelan, Bjarnason, Onomah, Hogan, Kodjia. 

Aston Villa Starting Line-Up: Johnstone, Bree, Chester, Terry, Hutton, Snodgrass, Jedinak, Hourihane, Adomah, Grealish, Grabban. 

We'll have some team news coming your way in the next five minutes or so...

Each side is looking to return to the top flight at the first time of asking, both having suffered Premier League relegation in the 2015-16 season. They've met four times now this season in total, Villa winning away in the league whilst Boro won a Carabao Cup tie at Villa Park in September. The league game at Villa was drawn.

Boro boss Pulis know that there's a tricky challenge facing his side tonight, but isn't refusing to give up hope of making a comeback: “Villa are in the ascendency in the tie, we’ve got to go to Villa Park in front of a full house so that gives them the advantage. There’s still 90 minutes to play and anything can happen," he said.

The two teams will be competing for a chance to play Fulham in the final at Wembley after the Cottagers overturned a first leg deficit to beat Derby County 2-1 on aggregate, winning 2-0 at home on Monday evening. Teenage starlet Ryan Sessegnon was again on the scoresheet. 

It's Villa who hold the advantage after a 1-0 away win in the first leg, Mile Jedinak's header enough for Steve Bruce's side to bring a slender lead back to Villa Park. Boro winger Adama Traoré was shackled particularly well by a Villa side determined not to let those in red past them. Manager Tony Pulis isn't giving up on Traore ahead of the second leg, saying: “I think there were times today when Adama had good patches, he’s a terrific player he’s a fantastic talent and on his day he can win things. It’s still all to play for on Tuesday.”

Good evening everyone and welcome to VAVEL UK's live minute-by-minute commentary of this evening's Championship play-off semi-final second leg between Aston Villa and Middlesbrough. I'm Sam Straw and I'll be taking you through proceedings as the two teams battle it out for a place at Wembley

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