Cairney coolly slotted home in the 23rd minute after a through-ball from Ryan Sessegnon but Villa overcame that disappointment to create a number of opportunities after the restart.
Find out how all of the action unfolded in North London courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates below.
ASTON VILLA SUBSTITUTES: Bunn, Bree, Whelan, Bjarnason, Onomah, Hogan, Kodjia
FULHAM SUBSTITUTES: Button, Kalas, Christie, Norwood, Ayite, Piazon, Fonte
The likes of Sessegnon, Mitrovic and Ayite have the potential to cause real problems for Villa, although Bruce's men have been defensively astute so far this term, with the likes of Terry and Chester enjoying standout seasons at the back.
Fulham have tended to struggle in the history of Championship playoffs and they will now be facing a manager in Bruce who has already gained four promotions from post-season finals. The former Manchester United centre-back might just have the required nous to upset the applecart. Villa to prevail by a 2-1 margin.
In the reverse fixture in February, second-half goals from Sessegnon and Ayite earned Fulham a relatively comfortable 2-0 triumph.
ASTON VILLA XI: Johnstone; Elmohamady, Chester, Terry, Hutton; Jedinak, Hourihane; Snodgrass, Adomah, Grealish; Grabban
FULHAM XI: Bettinelli; Fredericks, Odoi, Ream, Targett; McDonald, Cairney, Johansen; Kamara, Sessegnon, Mitrovic
If you would like to read our on-the-whistle report, you can do so by clicking here. Goodbye for now.