Aston Villa vs Middlesbrough preview, betting tips and prediction

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Steve Bruce can go a step closer to a fifth promotion

Aston Villa to win @ 6/5 with Betfair

Aston Villa take a one goal lead into the second leg of their Championship playoff semi final against Middlesbrough after a 1-0 win at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday evening. Mile Jedinak scored a crucial header, but it was the manner of their performance which really impressed. Steve Bruce set up his side to frustrate his opposite number, Tony Pulis, and he succeeded. While Boro dictated the play for most of the game, there weren’t too many clear-cut opportunities for them to get back into the game, and they are now left with an uphill battle to restore parity in the tie at Villa Park. Although their form against the top sides in the Championship, one win in just ten games in the regular season, they had won seven of their last eight at home, so they will feel disappointed not to win the first leg. Villa will look to play in the same manner, frustrating their opponents and hitting them on the counter attack, though they may hope to put the tie to bed early.

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For Boro, it will be a case of coming out of the blocks fast and attempting to cancel out Jedinak’s goal. Pulis took the bold approach of naming his side for the first leg in the press conference, namely the same side that drew at Ipswich on the final day. Top scorer Britt Assombalonga missed three golden chances in the first half, while Patrick Bamford, who ended the season strongly, was forced to sit on the bench. We are backing Villa to progress to Wembley.

Jonathan Kodja came off the bench for Lewis Grabban on Saturday, but he should start after the latter had an ineffectual game in front of goal. He like Grabban, is favourite to score anytime with Betfair at 2/1, so whoever leads the line on Tuesday will be worth backing. Bamford is a tip that could yield some value at 9/4, because we expect him to start over Assombalonga, who can be found at the same price.

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