The Latest Aston Villa FC Transfer News, Stories and Updates have been added below for 2017 – 2018
- Tue, 15 May 2018 22:34:00 +0000: Aston Villa survive late Stewart Downing scare to reach Wembley final - Aston Villa | The Guardian
A long, traumatic season for Steve Bruce could yet deliver a happy ending of sorts as Aston Villa moved to within 90 minutes of a return to the Premier League. For Bruce, who has been through such a distressing time after losing both parents in the last three months, it would be a remarkable achievement if he can see this gruelling campaign through and mastermind his fifth promotion to the top flight.Continue reading...
- Tue, 15 May 2018 21:08:39 +0000: Aston Villa v Middlesbrough: Championship play-off semi-final – as it happened - Aston Villa | The Guardian
Aston Villa will face Fulham in the Championship play-off final on 26 May after beating Middlesbrough 1-0 on aggregate
I’ll leave you with this expert take from Stuart James from Villa Park. Next stop: Wembley on 26 May for the Championship play-off final between Aston Villa and Fulham. It’s bound to be a good one. That’s all from me for now. Thanks for reading and emailing. Bye.
Steve Bruce speaks! “We’ve shaded it over the two games. They haven’t had a shot on target. That stood us in good stead. First half, we gave the ball away a bit. Second half, we controlled it. It was agony towards the end. But it means so much. Thankfully it seems we’ve turned the club round a bit. We have to beat a very good team in Fulham. We need a few days to rest.”
Paul Merson is tearing into that game on Sky. What a man.
Looking at the replay of Johnstone’s handball outside the box, it does look like Traore’s shot was going to go in. The Villa goalkeeper was lucky not to see red.
Tony Pulis, though. What was the plan there? Middlesbrough didn’t have a shot on target tonight.
A lot of Villa fans are still on the pitch. Hope they’re having fun.
Having listened to John Terry speak just now, it must be said that he deserves a lot of credit for his form and leadership this season. You hear a winner like that talk about getting ready for the final and realise that Villa will really benefit from his experience as they prepare for the challenge of playing Fulham. A lot of his peers haven’t bothered dropping into the Championship but Terry has embraced it.
Jack Grealish speaks about playing Fulham in the final. “It’s going to be a hard game. We’ve played them twice this season and won one and lost one. It’s a one-off game. We have a lot of talent in our team.”
John Terry’s praising Jack Grealish. Jack Grealish responds by praising John Terry.
Jack Grealish speaks! “It means the world. It was always going to be a hard game and now we’ll look forward to the final.”
John Terry speaks! “Two very good performances. The boys were different class. It was important in the first half we didn’t concede. It was quite tense. Our plan worked perfectly so the manager deserves credit. We have great team spirit. One more step and it will be the dream. Traore was a big threat for them. We’ve been the best side over two legs.”
The Villa fans have invaded the pitch. That game did not merit a pitch invasion.
Aston Villa will play Fulham at Wembley! They’re into the play-off final at Middlesbrough’s final. Although don’t feel too bad for the losing team. Tony Pulis will be delighted with a clean sheet!
90 min+6: Traore’s shot from 20 yards is blocked. And..
90 min+5: The ball has disappeared into the Holte End.
90 min+4: Villa have surely done enough.
90 min+2: Middlesbrough whack a long ball into the area. Gestede’s height causes bother but Fabio can’t make clean contact with his shot and Villa clear their lines.
90 min+1: Villa make their final change, Birkir Bjarnason replacing Albert Adomah. There will be four added minutes.
90 min: “This is pathetic,” says Luke Nicholas. “Can we please sack Pulis after this debacle. Two legs, no courage, no ideas, no actual football.”
89 min: A long buildup to the free-kick. Downing, against his former side, can save his current one. It’s made for his left foot and he whips a fine effort over the wall - and against the top of the bar! That’s agonising for Middlesbrough.
87 min: A long ball over the top. Villa don’t deal with it. Bamford makes a nuisance of himself, Chester unsettled and Johnstone out of his area, and the ball breaks to Traore. He tries to lob Johnstone, who handles the winger’s effort. Mike Dean awards a free-kick and books the Villa goalkeeper. He’s lucky not to be sent off.
86 min: Johnstone claims Traore’s cross. No Middlesbrough player was in the area. Traore has had a poor night.
85 min: Glenn Whelan replaces Conor Hourihane. Middlesbrough probe down the right but Fabio’s cross drifts over Bamford and Gestede.
83 min: Hourihane sweeps a shot straight at Randolph from 20 yards.
82 min: Fabio replaces Shotton. Middlesbrough have no more changes to make.
80 min: Besic picks up a yellow card for one foul too many. Middlesbrough are 10 minutes away from earning the 0-0 draw they came here for. This would be a decent point for the visitors.
79 min: Jonathan Kodjia replaces Lewis Grabban.
75 min: Grealish drops a shoulder and tries to bend one into the far corner from 25 yards. Randolph flies to his left to palm it away.
73 min: Chester’s shirt is torn. There’s been a fair bit of jostling at set-pieces tonight. Good old Tony Pulis.
73 min: Rudy Gestede replaces Jonny Howson. Middlesbrough now have two strikers up front.
72 min: Middlesbrough attack for the first time in a while but Howson’s inviting cross eludes Bamford.
71 min: Adomah cuts inside and sees his deflected shot spin just over. Randolph was beaten.
70 min: Grabban lets fly from distance. Randolph tips it over. Snodgrass will need treatment before the corner is taken. Especially as he’s the one taking it. He recovers soon enough but his inswinger’s headed away by Traore.
68 min: Patrick Bamford replaces Britt Assombalonga.
67 min: Grabban bursts through and sees his shot brilliantly turned wide by Randolph. Offside, though.
65 min: Middlesbrough haven’t had a shot on target yet. Bamford will be on soon.
63 min: The cameraman picks out Patrick Bamford warming up. When will Pulis turn to the forward? Middlesbrough aren’t doing much at all.
61 min: Grealish has been booked for something or other.
60 min: Villa are pressing here. Middlesbrough are struggling. Grealish slips a pass through to Adomah, who sends a first-time cross into the six-yard box. Grabban prods it goalwards but Randolph saves with his legs!
58 min: Hourihane sends a free-kick straight into the wall.
55 min: Both sides try counterattacks. Both fizzle out because of poor final balls.
53 min: Besic ignores Downing to his left and drags a slow shot just wide from 20 yards.
50 min: “Didn’t Middlesbrough sub Rudy Gestede play for Aston Villa a few seasons ago?” says Peter Oh. He sure did!
49 min: Downing takes the corner. Mike Dean immediately blows for a Villa free-kick after spotting some pushing.
48 min: Assombalonga, looking to give Middlesbrough some urgency, wins a corner on the left.
46 min: Middlesbrough get the second half underway.
That was like a game of chess.
45 min+1: There will be three added minutes.
45 min: Traore skips past Hutton, who pulls him back. It’s an obvious yellow card.
43 min: Assombalonga, who has done nothing, suddenly wakes up, surging past Terry and powering into the Villa area. It takes two Villa defenders to stop the striker before he can shoot.
40 min: Bree heads Traore’s dangerous cross behind at the far post, with Howson on his back. Can Middlesbrough make one of these set-pieces count? Downing sends the corner to the far post but Shotton’s header comes to nothing.
38 min: A corner to Middlesbrough on the left. It’s headed away but Villa keep the ball alive. Grabban nods the ball down to Chester, who swivels and shoots wide. He should have scored.
37 min: Downing, who isn’t exactly popular round these parts, crosses to no one in particular. The Holte End jeers their former player.
34 min: Adomah dribbles down the left, cuts outside and pulls the ball back into the middle. Hourihane runs on to it and looks certain to score, only for Friend to read the danger and hack clear at the crucial moment! Moments later Snodgrass scythes Clayton down and picks up a booking.
30 min: It’s time we accept the facts: this is a terrible game.
29 min: Aston Villa and Middlesbrough seem to trade players a lot. I’ll start with Paul Merson, Gareth Southgate, George Boateng, Ugo Ehiogu, Albert Adomah, Stewart Downing and Albert Adomah. What an interesting fact. Any more?
25 min: Middlesbrough are seeing quite a lot of the ball in Villa’s half. The home team are defending well, although they’ll want to see John Terry recover quickly after jarring his knee. He’s down for a moment or two, but eventually he’s back on his feet. So, so brave.
22 min: Traore gets his first chance to run at Hutton. “Take him on!” Pulis bellows. And that’s what Traore does, bursting past the Scot and sending a deep cross to the far post. It’s too high for Downing, though.
19 min: This is tense.
16 min: Downing swings in a corner from the left. Howson’s corner is hoofed clear by Terry, who has so cruelly been left out of England’s World Cup squad.
15 min: Adomah heads down the left but his cross is easy for Randolph. This is very tight.
12 min: Friend, persistent and tenacious, bustles down the left, beats Bree and bursts into the area. He darts along the byline, towards goal and looks for someone to pick out in the middle. With nobody making a run, the left-back overruns the ball and clatters into Johnstone. Villa are furious with him. He’s booked and Johnstone gingerly gets back to his feet.
10 min: Randolph takes too long to boot the ball away and his clearance is charged down by Hourihane. The Middlesbrough goalkeeper is very lucky the ball heads away from goal.
9 min: A bit of a scrappy start. There’s no real flow. A lot of misplaced passes, though.
6 min: Grealish’s shot takes a deflection and runs to Grabban. He combines with Adomah, who cleverly backheels the ball back to the striker on the left. Grabban’s shot is deflected wide. Villa take the corner shot. Grealish dribbles inside and finds Bree, who swipes wide from 25 yards.
4 min: Snodgrass is back on his feet. David Sullivan’s sons will be relieved.
3 min: Snodgrass is down feeling his left foot. He will require some treatment.
Peep! Villa, kicking from left to right in the first half, get the game underway.
There will be a minute’s applause to remember Jlloyd Samuel. It’s impeccably observed. The Villa fans chant their former defender’s name. A poignant moment.
Here come the teams. Villa Park, a classic old ground, is a pit of noise. Villa are in claret and blue. Middlesbrough are in their white away strip.
A problem for Middlesbrough: no team has reached the play-off final after losing the first leg at home. They need to defy history tonight.
Tony Pulis speaks! “The players have been positive [since the first leg]. The performance was better than the result. Every game is different. It will be a fantastic atmosphere but they have to go out and give it everything they’ve got. In the final third they need to be more clinical. We need a break. A bit of luck. We didn’t have that in the first game.”
Steve Bruce speaks! “I wouldn’t say we’re in charge. We have an advantage. A slight advantage. That’s all it is. We have to have the mindset to win the match. If you just try to defend and play for the draw, it doesn’t work.”
The teams will wear black armbands tonight in memory of Jlloyd Samuel. The former Aston Villa and Bolton full-back died in a car crash earlier today.
Aston Villa only make one change from the first leg. James Bree replaces the injured Ahmed Elmohamdy at right-back.
Middlesbrough also make one change. Out goes Daniel Ayala, who has a knee injury, and in comes Dael Fry.
Aston Villa: Johnstone; Bree, Terry, Chester, Hutton; Hourihane, Jedinak, Grealish; Snodgrass, Grabban, Adomah. Subs: Bunn, Samba, Whelan, Onomah, Hogan, Kodjiah, Bjarnason.
Middlesbrough: Randolph; Shotton, Fry, Gibson, Friend; Howson, Clayton, Besic; Traoré, Assombalonga, Downing. Subs: Dimi, Cranie, Fabio, Leadbitter, Harrison, Bamford, Gestede.
Hello. Aston Villa and Middlesbrough could both be forgiven for throwing in the towel after watching Fulham overwhelm Derby County in the other play-off semi-final last night. Fulham really were excellent, thriving thanks to the teenage brilliance of Ryan Sessegnon and the brute strength of Aleksandar Mitrovic up front, and it is going to take something special to stop Slavisa Jokanovic from joining Cardiff City and Wolves in the Premier League next season. The neutrals’ favourites are looking strong.
Yet there’s no point in Villa and Middlesbrough feeling glum when there’s still so much to play for before this season’s done and dusted. The Championship play-offs are nothing if not gloriously unpredictable and even the most optimistic Fulham fan won’t be getting too giddy just yet. Mind you, Villa will be hoping for no funny business this evening. They’re in the driving seat here, having won the first leg of this semi thanks to a solitary strike from Mile Jedinak, and they’ve got play-off specialist Steve Bruce in their corner. Middlesbrough, however, could still make it an uncomfortable occasion for the locals at Villa Park. Tony Pulis sides specialise in being awkward (apart from when he hangs around too long and everyone gets bored). Villa should win but don’t be surprised if we’re in for a long evening.Continue reading...
- Tue, 15 May 2018 14:21:19 +0000: Jlloyd Samuel, former Aston Villa and Bolton defender, dies in car crash - Aston Villa | The Guardian
• The 37-year-old reported to be returning home from school run
• Former defender played 169 games during nine years at Villa
The former Aston Villa and Bolton defender Jlloyd Samuel died in a car crash on Tuesday morning.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of our former player Jlloyd Samuel at the age of just 37 in a car accident,” Villa said on Twitter. “Our players will wear black armbands as a mark of respect tonight [in the Championship play-off semi-final against Middlesbrough] and our thoughts are with his friends and family at this very difficult time.”Continue reading...
- Tue, 15 May 2018 08:00:52 +0000: Grown-up Grealish has found his focus, says Aston Villa’s Steve Bruce - Aston Villa | The Guardian
• Grealish had to deal with toxic dressing room, adds Bruce
• Villa lead Boro 1-0 from Championship play-off first leg
Until recently Jack Grealish was routinely pigeon-holed as a self-destructive, troubled talent but Steve Bruce believes his playmaker was merely a victim of Aston Villa’s once noxious dressing-room culture.
If there is no reason to doubt the Villa manager’s assessment, Grealish also seems to have done an awful lot of growing up. The 22-year-old would – if Villa go up – return to the Premier League as an infinitely more mature version of the midfielder who once drove managers to distraction.Continue reading...
- Sat, 12 May 2018 18:43:41 +0000: Middlesbrough 0-1 Aston Villa: Championship play-off semi-final – as it happened - Aston Villa | The Guardian
Mile Jedinak’s first-half goal gives Villa the advantage going into Tuesday’s second leg.
And here’s the view from the Riverside, where Louise Taylor was in attendance.
Steve Bruce speaks: “We had to defend very well. We went too deep in the second half. But the resilience! The second half was very difficult but we kept a clean sheet, we’ve got an advantage, coming to Middlesbrough’s never easy, so we’ll take that and look forward to Tuesday. It’s a small advantage. It’s half time. They’ve got to come to our place, but we all know the Championship, how ridiculous it is!”
The seven-time champions of England take a precious lead back to Villa Park for the second leg on Tuesday!
90 min +6: Traore skips in from the left, but can’t fashion space to shoot. That allows Grealish to scamper up the other end, eating up what’s left of the clock.
90 min +5: Well that’s all the added time used up, but with Terry having gone down seeking treatment, there’s more!
90 min +4: ... Terry goes down holding his neep. The referee blows up, as he has to for a head injury. The Boro fans don’t like this one either, assuming he’s trying it on. You know how these things go.
90 min +3: A chance! The ball’s sent into the Villa box, and breaks to Fabio on the penalty spot. He slashes a shot towards the bottom right. It’s deflected out for a corner, from which ...
90 min +2: Downing attempts a shot from 25 yards. Bloody hell.
90 min +1: Boro have all the possession ... but it’s in the middle of the park. There’s no way through Villa.
90 min: There will be five minutes of added time.
89 min: Whelan comes on for Elmohamady. Downing immediately romps into space vacated by the left-back. He crosses. Bamford eyebrows the ball on. It drops to Friend, who waits for an age for the ball to drop - then smashes it high into the stand. Too much time to think.
87 min: Elmohamady looks to have pulled a hamstring. He’s holding the back of his right leg, grimacing, having pulled up abruptly in a chase with Fabio. Or is it cramp? The Boro fans think he’s trying it on, with a view to running down the clock. He gets some treatment on the pitch, before limping off.
85 min: Traore skedaddles down the left and loops inside for Bamford, but Terry steps in to clear. Boro have total territorial dominance right now ... but Villa are holding firm.
84 min: Fabio has been busy since coming on. He earns a bit of space on the right, and sends a screamer of a ball through the six-yard box. Johnstone deals with it well.
83 min: Jedinak clears that second one. Both sets of fans are feeling the tension at a nervous Riverside: the next ten minutes or so are crucial to the balance of this semi-final.
82 min: Bamford and Howson one-two down the left, forcing Terry to intercept and concede a corner. The set piece is met by Fabio, on the left-hand corner of the six-yard box. Johnstone is forced to turn the ball round for another corner.
81 min: Grabban has been quiet. He’s replaced by Bjarnason.
80 min: Boro desperately need something to happen. But they’re up against it now. Villa have only conceded six goals in the last 15 minutes of all their matches in all competitions all season!
78 min: Traore turns on the jets and races past Snodgrass, who isn’t risking anything now he’s been booked. He earns a corner, from which Friend is penalised for grappling with Terry.
77 min: Downing lifts the free kick into the mixer. It hits Gibson, and harmlessly bounces through to Johnstone.
76 min: Snodgrass is booked for a fairly cynical check on Friend. It’ll be a free kick just to the left of the Villa box. But before it can be taken, on comes Bamford for the disappointing Assombalonga. Bamford’s arrival is met with great cheers.
75 min: Grealish dribbles with great intent down the middle of the park. He’s a very fine player to watch in full flight. He slips the ball to his left for Grabban, who sidefoots a lame first-time effort into Randolph’s arms from the edge of the box.
73 min: Howson crosses from the Boro left. Grabban volleys to the halfway line. Villa seem happy enough to let Boro come onto them, because they’re doing very little in the final third, and this scoreline will be more than acceptable for Bruce’s side going into the second leg.
72 min: Another cross by Fabio from the right, and again it’s easily snaffled by Johnstone.
71 min: Adomah is replaced by Kodjia. Formerly of Boro, the Villa man receives some warm applause as he departs.
69 min: Fabio crosses deep from the right. Johnstone rises to claim the ball, while Terry eases Assombalonga out of the road underneath. Boro make a half-arsed claim for a penalty, but that’s never going to happen.
68 min: A free kick for Boro out on the left and a chance to load the box. Which they do, but it’s a futile effort, because Besic blooters a wild free kick over everyone and out for a goal kick.
66 min: Howson and Besic one-two crisply down the middle of the park. It’s a lovely move, and Besic then slips the ball wide right for Fabio, who bursts into the box. Fabio might as well shoot, really, because there’s nobody bar the heavily marked Assombalonga in the middle, but he doesn’t fancy the tight angle and cuts it back instead. To nobody.
65 min: Ayala is replaced by Fabio. That was preposterous, really, it was obvious even to a quack watching on television that the player was in pain. I have no idea why Boro sent him back onto the field.
64 min: Ayala takes up possession 30 yards from his own goal. He’s in obvious distress, and it’s all he can do to swivel and hoick the ball straight out of play, lest he make some sort of dreadful mistake. He can’t put any weight on his leg.
62 min: He’s trying to continue, but it doesn’t look good. He grimaces in pain as he steps back onto the field, and immediately looks back to the bench with sad eyes. But for now, he limps on.
61 min: Ayala has injured himself in the process of stopping Grealish in his tracks. He’s hurt his knee, and looks in a lot of pain. For a second it looks like he won’t be able to continue, but eventually gets up, limps off, and is given a talking-to by Pulis on the sideline. He’ll try to continue.
59 min: Traore over-elaborates 30 yards from his own goal. He loses possession to Grealish, who should send a shot goalwards, but doesn’t. Ayala blocks him. Grabban has a whack as the ball runs loose, but Traore deals with that one. A rare second-half attack for Villa, and a let-off for Boro.
57 min: It comes to nothing. Boro have enjoyed the lion’s share of possession since the restart, but Villa look pretty comfortable.
56 min: Traore spins Hutton down the left. Hutton tries to drag him back. The whistle goes for a free kick, though as Traore had continued to run at, and get the better of, Snodgrass, Boro aren’t happy. Still, a set piece in Villa’s final third.
54 min: Boro continue to push Villa back. Downing shimmies along the right and wins a corner. He takes it himself, long. Ayala tries to guide a header goalwards, but it’s bundled clear. Besic probes down the right and curls towards the near post, where Shotton bundles out for a goal kick.
52 min: Howson runs at the Villa back line with great intent. It’s a determined run which gets the visitors looking concerned for the first time since the restart, but when he lays off to Besic, the thrust of the move dies. The ball’s recycled, but Villa have regrouped, and Assombalonga drags a fairly lame shot wide left from distance.
50 min: Traore bursts down the left, a fine run for a while, but it ends sadly with a heavy touch that forces him out of play for a goal kick. The Riverside is a bit subdued for the first time this evening.
49 min: Gibson is booked for a fairly agricultural lunge on Jedinak. He doesn’t bother complaining.
48 min: But otherwise, it’s been a slow start to the second half. Grealish tries to spark it into life with a run down the left, but he’s ushered out of play by Besic.
46 min: Friend immediately tears down the left wing. He goes nowhere, but that was hectic enough to suggest Mr Pulis has given his team a bit of a talking-to during the break.
And we’re off again! Middlesbrough get the party underway again, albeit after a false restart. No half-time changes. “Play offs should come with a government health warning,” writes the nanny state’s Simon McMahon. “After watching Dundee United bottle it at Livingston last night, was at Cowdenbeath, aka the Blue Brazil, today to see them preserve their league status with a crazy 3-2 victory over Cove Rangers. Shakespeare couldn’t script what happens in the play offs, and there’s more drama to come for sure.”
Half-time reading. There’s been some other meaningful end-of-season action today. In the League One play-offs, Scunthorpe forced a dramatic late draw with Rotherham. Meanwhile Tranmere Rovers are back in the Football League, despite having been reduced to ten men after a first-minute sending off in the National League promotion final against Boreham Wood. Barry Glendenning was at Wembley for that one.
And that’s that for the second half. Villa have the advantage thanks to Jedinak’s header; they’d be in total control had Randolph not made that wonder save from Snodgrass. Boro need something in the second half, or they’ll have a hell of a task turning this round at Villa Park.
45 min +1: Friend is booked for an out-of-control run and leap into Jedinak. That seemed a bit of an unnecessary and pointless challenge.
45 min: Traore dribbles in from the left and looks for the top-right corner of the Villa net. Not quite.
44 min: And then Snodgrass drops a shoulder to cut in from the right, curling towards the top left. It’s a wonderful shot, but Randolph stretches out and fingertips it onto the left-hand post. The ball rebounds away to safety. What a shot ... and an even better save! Happy birthday to the Boro keeper, then, 31 years old today.
43 min: Hourihane tries to release Adomah down the left. Ayala should tidy up, but he hesitates after intercepting and that allows Adomah to pick the ball up and consider a shot. He doesn’t have a go, but Villa stay on the attack, pressing Boro back.
41 min: Traore sees a shot from distance deflected out for a corner. Ayala flashes a header on target from the set piece, but Johnstone gathers. Good luck predicting who’ll score next, because both teams are doing their damndest.
39 min: Grealish embarks on another Gazza-style run, this time down the middle of the park from the halfway line. It’s a gravity-defying dribble, as he rides a couple of barges, and it showcases plenty of ball-glued-to-toe skill ... but the minute he enters the area, he’s blocked by Ayala before he can get a shot away. What a stunning run, though.
37 min: A cross curled into the Villa box from the left by Friend. Assombalonga stoops at the near post and tries to guide a header into the bottom left, but Johnstone drops to smother. Assombalonga has had three decent chances in the last six minutes. He should have done better with all of them.
36 min: Besic tees up Adam Clayton, 25 yards out. The ball sails off into the blood-red sky.
35 min: The first slight lull of the match. It’s been otherwise thoroughly entertaining, despite the high stakes, so let’s give the lads a break, they deserve it.
33 min: These teams are beginning to give up chances now. Howson dances through the middle of the park before sliding another fine pass down the inside-left channel for Assombalonga. This time the striker takes a touch before rippling the side netting from a tight-ish angle.
32 min: Adomah drops a shoulder to earn some space on the left, then whips high into the Boro box. Snodgrass rises over Friend, and should be planting his header on target, but over it goes from close range.
31 min: Howson, quarterbacking from deep, finds Assombalonga down the inside-left channel. The striker has a yard on Chester, but thrashes a wild shot high and left of the target when he really should have worked Johnstone.
29 min: As Terry continues to limp around, Traore wins a corner down the Boro right. The first corner leads to another, and then Hutton very nearly eyebrows one into the top left of his own goal. A third corner to come, this time from the left. And this time Hutton batters a clearing header off his own line, the corner having been swung in at pace by Traore.
27 min: Besic attempts to inject some life into Boro’s play, bursting down the inside-right channel but failing to find the nearby Assombalonga with a lay-off. Terry, chasing Besic, might have taken a knock or pulled something there. He’s hopping around a bit, anyway.
25 min: A stat on Sky which may give Boro pause: Villa are unbeaten this season after scoring the first goal.
23 min: Villa hit the right-hand corner deep. Terry rises at the far post, Randolph having been taken out of play, but can only bundle the ball wide left. Boro were living dangerously there, though, and Villa are very much on top now.
22 min: Traore slides in on Grealish. He catches the Villa man on the back of his leg. Accidental, but oof, ow, ooyah, etc. From the free kick, Jedinak’s backwards header threatens to loop into the top right. Randolph claims, but clatters into the post and drops the ball, out for a corner.
20 min: Grealish dribbles in from the left, Gazza style, but his shot from just inside the box isn’t up to the quality of the run. Randolph gathers the pea-roller.
19 min: Snodgrass falls over while dribbling down the right. He grabs the ball, wanting a free kick. But there was nothing wrong with the attention of Friend, and so that’s a free kick to Boro instead. There’s quite an edgy feel to this match; don’t be surprised if it boils over into a brouhaha at some point.
17 min: The Riverside took a while to process that goal, so absurdly simple it seemed. Boro try to respond immediately. A throw’s won deep in Villa territory down the left. Friend spends an age towelling off the ball to get extra purchase ... then flings it straight out of play for a goal kick.
Well this was simple! Adomah wins a corner for Villa down the left. Then Jedinak rises to meet Grealish’s corner at the left-hand corner of the six-yard box, guiding it into the bottom right. There’s nobody on the post, so in it flies!
13 min: Hourihane, who was pushing his luck in the first 30 seconds of this match, goes in the book. It’s for hanging an arm into the startled grid of Besic, as the pair contest a high ball. Terry critiques the referee’s work: he’s told in no uncertain terms to stop his yap.
12 min: Besic looks in the mood for this. Twice he runs at the Villa defence within the space of 20 seconds or so. On both occasions, the visitors look to be in a state of panic and only just manage to stop Besic in full flow from breaking through.
11 min: Shotton sends a Delap-style throw into the Villa box from the right. It’s half cleared, to Besic, who caresses a dipping screamer inches wide of the top-left corner. Le Tissier-esque. A pleasing 90s vibe to minute 11: one for the mums and dads.
10 min: The set piece is a waste of time.
9 min: But Boro respond to that period of pressure well, Besic dribbing at great speed down the inside-right channel. He’s crowded out of it before he can shoot. But they come again, Friend and Downing combining well to earn another corner, this time on the left.
7 min: Villa are beginning to dominate these early stages. Grealish is buzzing around with purpose. His prompting pushes Boro back. There’s a little space for Snodgrass on the edge of the box, but instead of shooting he tries to slide the ball forward for Grabban. Wrong decision. Boro intercept and clear their lines.
5 min: It’s high-octane stuff. And a little bit scrappy. Passing moves at a premium. A lot of tackles flying in. Howson crashes into Grealish, leaving the Villa man on the floor. No free kick. All very old-fashioned, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
3 min: ... Traore loops an obvious ball in from the right and it’s easily snaffled by Johnstone.
2 min: An ear-bothering noise at the Riverside. Howson bursts down the right and wins the first corner of the match. From which ...
And we’re off! Villa get the party started. Hourihane clatters into Clayton, and gets a good talking-to from the ref for sliding in studs showing, forcefully, not totally within reason. Had there been more than 15 seconds on the clock, that might have been a booking.
The teams are out! Boro are in their red shirts with famous white stripe, while Villa play in second-choice black. There’s a thundering atmosphere at the Riverside, ahead of this crucial match. And it’s been a tear-jerking one too: the popular Leo Percovich took to the centre circle to emotionally thank fans for their support in the wake of the recent tragic car accident that took the lives of the 50-year-old Uruguayan’s young daughters Antonella and Valentina. We’ll be off in a minute.
Tony Pulis speaks - and is asked about Boro’s record of only winning one game all season against teams who finished in the top six. “The game is the game, no two games are the same. We have to approach it in the right manner, make sure we do our best, and give everything. If we get the breaks, and things go our way, then fine. But if we don’t, we still have the second game to come. But the teams we have played recently - the Derbys, the Bristol Citys, the Millwalls - they’ve all been up there. We’ve won those games.”
Steve Bruce speaks! “People hit form and people drop out of form a little bit. Rotating in recent weeks has enabled me to make sure everybody is ready if needed. That’s been vitally important. We’ve cemented our place in the play-offs for a long time, so it’s enabled me to do that. But the team I have picked today are the ones that have predominantly got us into this position. I think it’s only fair that they’re the ones to try and take us a little bit further. No doubt Tony has sprinkled a little bit of his magic, and they’re the in-form team of the division. We’re two really good teams who have been competing against each other so it should be the makings of a classic game!”
The winners of this tie will face either Derby County or Fulham in the Wembley final in a fortnight’s time. The Cottagers have been everybody’s favourites to get through the other semi, though the odds on the Rams springing a surprise at the expense of the current hipsters’ choice have shortened considerably in the wake of their hard-fought victory in the first leg at Pride Park last night. Nick Miller was there to report on proceedings.
Pre-match reading: Our very own Louise Taylor previews the big game, on a day when Leo Percovich, Boro’s former goalkeeping coach, returns to the Riverside in poignant circumstances.
Tony Pulis always said he would name the same XI that started Boro’s last game, the 2-2 draw at Ipswich. And he’s done exactly that. It means Patrick Bamford, whose last-minute equaliser in that match was his 13th goal of the season, stays on the bench.
Steve Bruce rings the changes, having named an experimental Villa side for the 1-0 defeat at Millwall. Mark Bunn, Josh Onomah, Scott Hogan and Jonathan Kodjia drop to the bench, while James Bree and Henri Lansbury miss out altogether. In come Sam Johnstone, Ahmed Elmohamady, John Terry, Robert Snodgrass, Jack Grealish and Lewis Grabban.
Middlesbrough: Randolph, Shotton, Ayala, Gibson, Friend, Howson, Clayton, Besic, Traore, Assombalonga, Downing.
Subs: Konstantopoulos, Da Silva, Leadbitter, Bamford, Cranie, Fry, Harrison.
Aston Villa: Johnstone, Elmohamady, Chester, Terry, Hutton, Jedinak, Snodgrass, Hourihane, Grealish, Adomah, Grabban.
Subs: Samba, Whelan, Hogan, Onomah, Bjarnason, Kodjia, Bunn.
In January 1950, legendary inside-forward Wilf Mannion inspired Middlesbrough to a 3-0 FA Cup victory over Aston Villa. The tie had gone to a second replay, at neutral Elland Road, which meant the teams would play each other on five occasions that season. For the record, Villa had the better of it in the League, winning 4-0 at Villa Park just five days later.Continue reading...
Historical Transfer News and Team Gossip has been archived below:
- Fri, 23 Jun 2017 09:01:06 +0000: Villa wait on Terry contract offer - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Aston Villa | BBC
Aston Villa do not expect immediate progress in their bid to sign John Terry after making him a lucrative contract offer.
- Wed, 21 Jun 2017 08:00:34 +0000: Championship fixtures in full - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Aston Villa | BBC
Find out your team's fixtures in the Championship during the 2017-18 season.
- Fri, 16 Jun 2017 13:19:02 +0000: Sunderland to play Bury in EFL Cup - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Aston Villa | BBC
Sunderland will travel to Bury in the EFL Cup first round following their relegation from the Premier League.
- Fri, 02 Jun 2017 11:26:51 +0000: Villa chief executive Wyness suspended - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Aston Villa | BBC
Aston Villa chief executive Keith Wyness is suspended from football activity for three weeks for social media misconduct.
- Thu, 18 May 2017 12:51:32 +0000: CEO Wyness dismisses Villa budget fears - Latest Stories, Video, and Commentary about Aston Villa | BBC
Aston Villa chief executive Keith Wyness is confident of signing transfer targets within manager Steve Bruce's budget.
Aston Villa are now looking to strengthen their squad for the up coming season with a large number of new players touted to be on the clubs radar in the closed season. The club has been boosted lately by the resigning of goalkeeper Brad Guzan who left the club at the end of last season. The American keeper has now penned a new lucrative three year deal which will keep him at Villa park until the end of the 2015 season.
Another huge target for the club this season is Blackburns Steven N`Zonzi who is also a top target for Sunderland, Tottenham and Stoke City with the midfielder stating that he has no intention of playing football in the championship. The Frenchman is thought to be available for a fee of around five million pounds and would welcome the chance to play in the English top flight again.
Blackpool winger Matt Phillips is also believed to be on the clubs radar as the championship side looked doomed to lose their influential winger as a host of top flight clubs are now vying for his signature. The twenty one year old has had a brilliant season for his club and now looks set to move to the premier league with clubs such as Everton, Wigan, Reading and Sunderland all in for the winger.
Sheffield United defender Matt Lowton is another target for the Villa Park outfit as Paul Lambert looks to strengthen his back line for the new season and the player is thought to be his top target for his defence. Lowton is now regarded as one of the hottest prospects in English football but Villa will need to fight off stern interest from additional clubs such as feyenoord and Bersiktas.