Villa to book Wembley date
One down in the tie, West Brom have it all to do if they’re to make it to Wembley, especially without top scorer Dwight Gayle. Will this galvanise the Baggies or will Villa hold on to reach their second successive play-off final?
Villa finding a way to win
After going behind early on courtesy of fatal mistake from the normally reliable Glenn Whelan, it felt like Villa were going to be in for a frustrating afternoon on Saturday.
An early goal would’ve been exactly what Jimmy Shan had called for pre-match and Dwight Gayle’s sweet strike allowed them to follow through with their gameplan of playing on the counter and defending in numbers.
But Villa have grown in stature under Dean Smith and even the huge disappointment of falling behind wasn’t to deter the hosts from making sure they carry an advantage through to Tuesday.
The Villians have been finding a way to win for some time now as their late season run has proved and led by Smith and his assistant John Terry, it seems this side have the strength of character to overcome whatever comes their way.
Cometh the hour, cometh the Grealish
Having the ability to win is certainly helped when you possess a player as talented as Jack Grealish. The best player outside the Championship has been instrumental in helping Villa reach the play-offs and it seems he’s not stopping there.
At a time in the game on Saturday when the hosts were running low on ideas, it was Villa’s number 10 who had the presence of mind to keep an attack alive and square the ball back to Conor Hourihane’s rifle of a left foot.
Then, not satisfied with helping to restore parity, Grealish roamed into the penalty area and won his side the penalty from which Villa won the game.
As captain in the absence of James Chester, Grealish is clearly relishing playing with the armband and the prospect of playing for his boyhood club in the Premier League is one he isn’t going to let go of anytime soon.
Baggies up against it
Given how the game panned out, I think Jimmy Shan would’ve been quietly satisfied with a narrow loss with the home leg to come.
But the late (and must be said harsh) dismissal of Dwight Gayle has changed the complexion of this tie and left the Baggies with a mountain to climb.
Gayle’s opener on Saturday, his 24th goal of an impressive campaign, demonstrated his prowess in front of goal. So often the Newcastle loanee needs only a sniff to get a shot away and is as lethal as you get at this level, as he proved not only this term but when the Magpies won promotion also. He will be sorely missed, there’s no doubt about that.
West Brom vs. Aston Villa betting tip
The Baggies still have 22-goal man James Rodriguez in the ranks so they’ll have hope of getting the goals the need to turn things around and can’t be discounted completely. Let’s remember though they need to win the game outright to progress with away goals not counting as extra in the play offs.
Don’t know about you but I just can’t see that happening and so backing the Draw or Villa win with both teams to score @ 13/10, is more than a worthy runner here.