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Result: Mile Jedinak header gives Aston Villa semi-final advantage

Result: Jedinak header gives Villa advantage
© Offside
Mile Jedinak's 15th-minute header earns Aston Villa a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough in the first leg of their Championship playoff semi-final.

Aston Villa have earned a 1-0 victory against Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium in the first leg of their Championship playoff semi-final tie.

The only goal of the match on Teesside was scored 15 minutes in by Mile Jedinak, who climbed highest from a corner to send the ball flying past Darren Randolph.

Boro had a few half-chances to level things up but were unable to take them, meaning just a third defeat in 15 outings to leave their promotion hopes looking bleak ahead of the return match at Villa Park on Tuesday.

The decisive moment of the first leg arrived early on as Jedinak flicked a front-post header into the far corner after being given time and space to meet Jack Grealish's inswinger.

The Villans took control of the match for the next 15 minutes, coming close to a second through attempts from Grealish and Jedinak, the latter having another header saved by Randolph.

With 10 minutes of the first half to play momentum swung Boro's way, however, with Britt Assombalonga - preferred to 13-goal Patrick Bamford - wasting three decent opportunities.

The striker twice got between two defenders, only for his left-footed finishes to end off target, before directing a close-range header right at Sam Johnstone in the opposition goal.

Villa managed to hold firm and it was they who would have gone into the break with a two-goal lead if not for Randolph, who produced a stunning fingertip save to help Robert Snodgrass's curler onto the frame of the goal.

Boro dominated possession for large parts of the second half without truly troubling the visitors, waiting 20 minutes before creating their next opening.

Moments after coming off the bench for the injured Daniel Ayala, Fabio Da Silva was played in behind but failed to pick out a player in red with his squared pass.

When the Smoggies did get a rare shot on target, Ben Gibson did not know a great deal about it as the ball bounced off him and trickled towards the goal-line, where Johnstone was waiting to collect.

No team in the English Football League have conceded fewer goals than Villa in the final 15 minutes of games this term, but it was their net that looked more at threat of being breached late on.

Ryan Shotton headed a corner back across goal for Fabio to force Johnstone into a routine save, and the Brazilian full-back had a shot blocked behind soon after.

In the end, though, Villa were able to see things through to match their 1-0 win here during the regular campaign, giving them a big advantage heading into next week's second leg.

MIDDLESBROUGH (4-2-3-1): Randolph; Shotton, Ayala (Fabio 65'), Gibson, Friend; Clayton, Besic; Traore, Howson, Downing; Assombalonga (Bamford 76')

ASTON VILLA (4-2-3-1): Johnstone; Elmohamady (Whelan 88'), Chester, Terry, Hutton; Hourihane, Jedinak; Snodgrass, Grealish, Adomah (Kodjia 71'); Grabban (Bjarnason 81')

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Baggies boss Tony Pulis reacts on September 10, 2016
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Leeds UnitedLeeds28166647301754
2Norwich CityNorwich28158552361653
3West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom28148657352250
4Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd28155846291750
5Middlesbrough281211531201147
6Derby CountyDerby2813784035546
7Bristol City2812883529644
8Hull City28117104135640
9Swansea CitySwansea28117103732540
10Blackburn RoversBlackburn28101083741-440
11Birmingham CityBirmingham2891274033739
12Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest2891273932739
13Aston Villa2891275145639
14Queens Park RangersQPR28116113439-539
15Stoke CityStoke2891183335-238
16Sheffield WednesdaySheff Weds2898113345-1235
17Brentford28810104339434
18Preston North EndPreston2889114345-233
19Millwall2878133444-1029
20Wigan AthleticWigan2885152841-1329
21Rotherham UnitedRotherham28510132746-1925
22Reading2858153143-1223
23Bolton WanderersBolton2857161842-2422
24Ipswich TownIpswich2839162248-2618

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