Home Sports Football Gayle’s absence gives Villa the edge
Gayle’s absence gives Villa the edge

Gayle’s absence gives Villa the edge

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Aston Villa’s dramatic comeback in Saturday’s first leg against West Brom could give them the psychological edge heading into the return clash as the two Midlands rivals attempt to reach the Championship play-off final.

Dwight Gayle’s first-half goal had given the Baggies the lead at Villa Park but two goals in the last 15 minutes has tipped the tie in favour of Dean Smith’s side.

Exact Score 2-2 @ 8/1

Villa finished the season well and, although they picked up four more points fewer than Albion, they did draw 2-2 at The Hawthorns in December when the home team needed a last-gasp equaliser from Jay Rodriguez to ensure the spoils were shared.

A repeat of that scoreline would confirm Villa’s place at Wembley on May 27.

However, Villa have not won at The Hawthorns in their last seven attempts although they will be more than happy to settle for a draw this time, available at 12/5.

Over 4.5 goals @ 9/2

The first leg was an entertaining affair and both teams seem to be better going forward than defending. Only champions Norwich City scored more goals than Albion (87) and Villa (82) but the Midlands rivals conceded on more occasions than almost every team in the top half of the Championship table, as well as 17th-placed Birmingham City.

The second leg looks set to be a high-scoring affair but Gayle’s late red card at Villa Park means he is suspended for the second leg and that could swing the tie in Villa’s favour.

The 28-year-old has scored 23 Championship goals for Albion during his season-long loan switch from Newcastle United and will be badly missed.

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Mark Race Having worked in the media for nearly 30 years, Mark knows his sport inside out and at all levels. An avid football fan, Mark also has serious knowledge of the tennis world and is quick to point out value bets in a number of other sports.

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