Sky Live: West Brom vs Aston Villa
West Brom welcome Midlands rivals Aston Villa to The Hawthorns on Tuesday evening, looking to overturn an aggregate deficit in order to reach the Championship play-off final (1-2 agg.).
Dwight Gayle gave Jimmy Shan's side an early lead in the first leg at Villa Park on Saturday, before a quality Conor Hourihane strike and a Tammy Abraham penalty in the space of four minutes turned the tie on its head.
Villa make the short trip safe in the knowledge they are in control of the tie, with potentially just 90 minutes separating them from a second successive trip to London for the Wembley showpiece; their hosts finished as runners-up in 2007, and will be looking to stay on course for an immediate Premier League return.
West Brom will be without top-scorer Dwight Gayle for the second leg of their Championship play-off semi-final against Aston Villa at the Hawthorns. The striker, on loan from Newcastle, scored his 24th goal of the season at Villa Park, but was then sent off late on. His suspension will also rule him out of the final at Wembley, should Albion get there.
Highlights from the first leg of the Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-final between Aston Villa and West Brom
With Hal Robson-Kanu also suspended following his red card at Derby on the final day of the regular season, Jay Rodriguez will likely play as a lone striker on Tuesday night in a 4-5-1 formation. That might mean a recall for attacking midfielder Rekeem Harper, who was left out of the squad altogether on Saturday for tactical reasons.
Villa boss Dean Smith expects to have a full squad available. Villa's defensive unit looks virtually set in stone, but Smith faces some selection dilemmas in midfield and attack as his side look to preserve their 2-1 lead from the first leg.
W Brom vs A Villa
May 14, 2019, 7:30pm
Midfielder Conor Hourihane came off the bench to inspire the comeback on Saturday, replacing Glenn Whelan, whose mistake led to West Brom taking the lead. His impact, together with the prospect of a second game in four days for 35-year-old Whelan, could see Hourihane get the nod. Smith must also consider who lines up alongside Anwar El Ghazi and Tammy Abraham up front. Albert Adomah could keep his place, but Andre Green and Jonathan Kodjia are options.
West Brom caretaker boss Jimmy Shan: "There was definitely some positive signs from our performance, and with just one goal in it, we have got 90 minutes to take them back to a packed Hawthorns, and hopefully the environment on Tuesday night will spur us on.
Jimmy Shan has called on Baggies fans to create a 'hostile' atmosphere on Tuesday night
"When they [the fans] are behind us, there is no better place - they can really, really get the place rocking. When I've spoke to Albion fans, they keep throwing back to me the game in 1993 against Swansea. Same scoreline and the atmosphere there, people tell me, is the best it's been for years, and it has not been bettered.
"We have seen it many, many times this season. The local rivalry is hopefully going to fuel the intensity of that atmosphere and make it hostile to ensure that they get right behind us. It is of vital importance, and I'm sure that it will be an incredible atmosphere on Tuesday night.
"We need however many fans we have got in the stadium to become heroes. I think the football club needs to be united. I think this football club, when it is united, special things can happen, and I am expecting something special to happen on Tuesday night."
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith: "We'll be going for the win. That's how we want to approach games and how the players know I want to approach games. We've got used to winning football games, so we don't want to stop that.
Villa boss Dean Smith says his team's recent club-record winning streak will aid their all-action approach
"Albion's approach might be different. The supporters will want them to play differently, I expect. It might make it a good game. If we can go and win the game again, we will get through. The tie is not over after 90 minutes.
"Mistakes happen in games and unfortunately they capitalised on the mistake [to take the lead in the first leg]. Glenn Whelan didn't shy away from the ball and tried to make things happen. So it was just one of those things.
"It was a massive decision [to leave Conor Hourihane out]. I've been having tough decisions for the last four months. I've got four quality international midfielders there, and unfortunately three doesn't go into four, so one of them will miss out. It's nice to have that quality, and Conor has gone on to answer me in the right way possible."
16 of the last 18 sides to win the first leg of a Championship play-off semi-final have gone on to progress through to the final, with the only exceptions being Derby County last season (vs Fulham) and Leicester City in 2012/13 (vs Watford).
The only previous occasion of West Brom losing the first leg of a play-off semi-final came against Swansea City in the third-tier play-offs in 1992-93 (1-2), progressing 3-2 on aggregate courtesy on a 2-0 victory in the second leg at the Hawthorns.
West Brom have never previously lost the home leg of a play-off tie, beating Swansea 2-0 in the 1992-93 third tier semi-final, drawing with Bolton (2-2) in the 2000-01 second tier semi-final and beating Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 in the 2006-07 Championship semi-final.
Aston Villa ended a four-game winless run against West Brom with their 2-1 victory at Villa Park in the first leg - they last won back-to-back matches against the Baggies in all competitions back in March 2015, winning 2-1 in the Premier League and then knocking them out of the FA Cup four days later (2-0).
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West Brom are unbeaten in their last seven games against Aston Villa at the Hawthorns in all competitions (W2 D5), since a 1-2 defeat in the Premier League back in September 2008.
Aston Villa ended the 2018-19 Championship season with a seven-game unbeaten run on the road (W5 D2), with their last away defeat coming against Brentford in February (1-0).
West Bromwich Albion will be without their top goalscorer Dwight Gayle following his red card in the first leg. The Baggies have just a 33% win rate without Gayle in all competitions this season (four wins from 12 games), compared to a 54% win rate with him in the side (22 wins from 41 games).
Conor Hourihane came off the bench to score a brilliant equaliser for Villa in the first leg
Tammy Abraham has found the back of the net with four of his last five attempts on target in the Championship (including play-offs), with each of those goals coming against different opposition (Sheffield Wednesday, Bristol City, Bolton and West Brom).
Villa obviously came from behind to win the first leg at Villa Park, and, after his sending off, there will be no Dwight Gayle for West Brom, which will be a big miss.
I fancy Villa to see this one through and win on the night as well. Then it will be about whether they can go one better than last year and win at Wembley.
David Prutton predicts: 0-1 - Aston Villa progress 3-1 on aggregate (9/1 with Sky Bet)
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