So close, yet so far. With 90 minutes separating Aston Villa and a place in the Premier League for the coming 18/19 season, the Villans couldn’t get it done - with a single play being the difference. Fulham sliced open Alan Hutton to let in Tom Cairney, who placed beyond Sam Johnstone to seal the deal for Fulham.
Despite a late fightback, Villa couldn’t get it done. In truth, the match looked beyond them, despite their best efforts in the second half.
The Manager’s Thoughts
Steve Bruce cut a dejected figure after the final.
"There's nothing worse than losing. We're disappointed with the defeat.— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) May 26, 2018
"But we're a great, proud club with a smashing history. We'll take it on the chin and get ready to go again."#AVFC pic.twitter.com/GDvb32kw16
Steve Bruce then...— Matt Lynch (@mattlyynch) May 27, 2018
1. Squad has a togetherness that we’ve not seen for yonks.
2. Could be so easily ripped up in the summer so do you have a fresh slate?
3. I admire his courage in the face of adversity.
4. He’s failed at what he’s been asked to do.
We are all stuck within this awful conundrum
Come off it.
Expected goals can tell us a fair bit about a match. Here’s an explainer. In the long term we can judge how well a team is doing in front of goal. On a match-by-match basis, we can simply judge chances, and how well they are taken.
Villa: 1.11 (0)
Fulham: 1.14 (1)
Data provided by Infogol
Villa were good value for an equaliser, but Scott Hogan couldn’t bury his header. That being said, Villa only fought back when the chips were down, and were only allowed so many chances as Fulham were holding onto a lead.
Goalscorers: No goalscorer today for Villa. Tom Cairney scored for Fulham
Big winners: Jack Grealish. If this is to be his last game in a Villa shirt, he’ll still go down a hero. Fought across the pitch and would have scored one of the greatest goals in Villa history if his dribble paid off with a scoring shot.
Big losers: Who didn’t lose? John Terry’s career may be over, Mile Jedinak couldn’t spur Villa on. Sam Johnstone couldn’t stop the shot. Alan Hutton got burned for the goal. Josh Onomah and Jonathan Kodjia came on too late and Scott Hogan couldn’t get enough purchase on the ball for his chance. It just didn’t go well.
Best moment: Jack Grealish showing the world what he was about. Again.
Worst moment: After Tom Cairney bagged a goal for Fulham, you simply knew that this match was beyond Aston Villa
Man of the Match: Mr Grealish, once more. Thank you for the season Jack.