Fulham defeat Aston Villa in Championship play-off final to reach Premier League

Arnold Nichols
May 27, 2018

Beating Fulham would see them back in the Premier League and on the way back...but defeat could very well see them doing a Leeds. Whilst the likes of John Terry and Jack Grealish would nearly certainly exit as well.

While a Villa side that featured the silky talents of Ireland midfielder Conor Hourihane and the impish skills of Jack Grealish, who famously turned down the chance to play for Ireland, failed to catch fire amid a deflated first half display, they had a chance to draw level five minutes before the break.

Villa looked ripe for the taking as skipper John Terry struggled but Bruce, a man who knows a thing or two about promotion, got them firing in the second half.

The West Midlands outfit will take on Fulham on Saturday in the play-off final, with a spot in next season's top flight up for grabs.

Terry had initially turned down Premier League clubs because he never wanted to face his former side Chelsea but he has a 12-month extension written into his deal at Villa Park should they go up.

Villa will also be without Axel Tuanzebe and Jed Steer as both remain unavailable for the massive fixture, however, Bruce has also stated that he has no other concerns and will be able to choose from an nearly fully fit squad. "Can we now top it off by getting where we want to be?"

"Expectation is huge here but that's why I went for experience", Bruce told BBC WM. "We must try to dominate the situation and put them under stress".

"We have to have a healthy respect for Fulham but not be fearful of them", Bruce, 57, added.

"We're probably the team with more energy".

"I've been playing the whole season not fully fit".

Another blank in front of goal, Grabban has now gone seven Championship play-off games without scoring including runs to the final in 2015 with Norwich City and last season at Reading. I do believe the supporters have enjoyed seeing what we have got at the moment. The first year we were fighting not to be relegated and in the second year we started to build the team.

"It's a really important victory for us and I think we deserve it after the last couple of years".

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