Any hopes of Aston Villa sneaking an automatic promotion spot ended yesterday following a 1-1 draw with Derby County and Cardiff City beating Hull.
Villa will now have to go through the playoffs, as many supporters fully expected and could meet yesterdays opponents in them.
Despite dominating the majority of the game, it was the home side who were forced to come from behind when former Birmingham City striker, Cameron Jerome gave Derby the lead after 14 minutes.
Former Villan, Andreas Weimann robbed a poor Neil Taylor out on the right and then crossed for Jerome to score his third goal in a week.
It was poor from Villa, in particular, Taylor who was soon replaced by Alan Hutton. Steve Bruce’s men did have chances and probably should have got back on level terms before half-time.
Albert Adomah beat Richard Keogh and found an unmarked Lewis Grabban but he could only head the opportunity over the bar. Former Villa goalkeeper Scott Carson also saved a low effort from Jack Grealish.
Villa continued to apply pressure on the visitors in the second half. Grealish has another effort but he fired over. Carson then claimed a Conor Hourihane free-kick before the midfielder missed the home sides best chance.
Hourihane was in the right place after a scramble in the box and took his time to volley the ball but he somehow miskicked the ball and volleyed it wide.
Substitute Matej Vydra nearly made Villa pay when he broke through against the run of play but he was unable to punish Villa. Jonathan Kodjia then came close himself with 15 minutes left on the clock but his header came back off the bar.
Villa eventually punished Derby with eight minutes left on the clock when Grabban pounced after Carson had denied Hourihane.
It was a very impressive performance from Villa, in particular, the second half and on another day probably could have scored a handful. I guess we would rather talk about missed opportunities now than when we go into the playoffs.
Colin Calderwood (Ass Manager): “We’re clear where we are, we’re not going to have the disappointment of missing out. Whichever way you dress it up, you have to deal with the situation in front of you and there can be no negatives in our thoughts. I think Middlesbrough are in better form than us, but the pleasing thing today was the rhythm of our game and how we looked powerful in the second half.”
Gary Rowett: “We’re not fearful of it. We’ve just played Cardiff and soundly beaten them and we’ve just played Villa and dealt with a lot they threw at us – but for us, it’s about getting in playoffs.”