One could walk from Villa Park to The Hawthorns and back again in the time it took to complete Tuesday evening’s West Midlands Derby Round 4 / EFL Championship Second Leg. The next journey is to Wembley.
Jed Steer came up massive in a penalty shootout as Villa nipped West Bromwich Albion 4-3 on penalties to advance to the EFL Championship.
Villa arrived at The Hawthorns up 2-1 as Conor Hourihane’s left foot from just outside the box and Tammy Abraham’s penalty overcame Dwight Gayle’s opener in the first leg at Villa Park.
The lead lasted all of 28 minutes when a header from Craig Dawson from a Mason Holgate throw-in trickled in off the post past Ahmed Elmohamady and Tammy Abraham. Jed Steer looked caught out of position on the goal but a complete breakdown of the Villa defense took place inside the box. The goal was preceded by a questionable sequence in which Jay Rodriguez barged into the back of Tyrone Mings to win a corner. But nonetheless, Villa trailed 1-0 in the game and even 2-2 on the aggregate.
Villa’s only shot on target in the first half on a hopeful El Ghazi ball from 25 yards out. Albion’s found the back of the net and all was left to play for in the second half.
Villa began the second half nervy, unsure, and lucky to have not conceded. It was inexplicably the worst 30 minutes of Villa football all season. West Brom pressed and Villa stumbled, bumbled, watched, waited, and committed error after error. And for some reason Dean Smith did nothing until the 75th minute when he subbed off the ineffective Andre Green for Albert Adomah.
Villa weathered the storm until the 80th minute when West Brom’s captain and resident goon Chris Brunt picked up a deserved second yellow hacking down John McGinn outside the box. Abraham’s effort sailed wide.
Johnstone robbed Adomah and McGinn in consecutive attempts slightly thereafter as Villa peppered the West Brom net. Villa continued to press but failed to break the deadlock in regular time.
Ten minutes into AET, Jonathan Kodjia came on for El Ghazi. Villa failed to score in the first 15 minutes. In the second 15 minutes Villa brought on another striker in Keinan Davis and Villa had a penalty shout late and it went unanswered.
Regardless, it mattered not. Villa held their nerve and won.