Will Wembley experience be a factor in the play-off final?
- Matt Stanger
- 18 May 2018, 10:37
It might not be the biggest factor in the Championship play-off final, but the Aston Villa squad’s experience of playing at Wembley before could help ease their nerves on May 26th.
Steve Bruce has assembled one of the most seasoned sides in the division, with many of the team enjoying big occasions at Wembley over the past few years.
Villa certainly hold an advantage over Fulham in that respect, with the Cottagers having relatively few players who have turned out at the national stadium, and the club making its first Wembley appearance in 43 years.
Villa will hope their opponents are overawed in the surroundings of the 90,000-seater stadium, while their own experience could be telling.
Here’s the team that lined up against Middlesbrough, with details of when they last played at Wembley…
Johnstone has fond memories of his last match at Wembley. The Manchester United goalkeeper spent the 2014/15 season on loan at his hometown club Preston, helping them reach the League One play-off final.
Simon Grayson’s side were tipped for a tough game against Swindon, but a Jermaine Beckford hat-trick helped fire them to a 4-0 win, with Johnstone a spectator in goal for much of the afternoon.
A Bruce favourite, Elmohamady made two Wembley appearances under the manager during his time at Hull.
The first came in the 2014 FA Cup final, when the Tigers were narrowly beaten by Arsenal despite taking a 2-0 lead inside the first 10 minutes.
The second occasion brought more joy for Elmohamady, as he helped Hull return to the Premier League with a 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the 2016 play-off final.
Chester was one of the goalscorers in that incredible opening quarter for Hull in the 2014 FA Cup final.
The 29-year-old left for West Brom before the Tigers’ play-off success, but he’s backing Villa’s Wembley experience to help them against Fulham.
“With our experience of big games and playing at Wembley hopefully it’ll put us in good stead,” said Chester this week.
The national stadium has almost been a second home to Terry throughout his illustrious career.
He was on the bench for the 2000 FA Cup final at the old Wembley - when Chelsea defeated Villa 1-0 to lift the trophy - and since then he has returned dozens of times with the Blues and England.
Of his recent trips, the 37-year-old will have fond memories of the 2015 League Cup final, when he opened the scoring in a 2-0 win over Spurs.
Hutton was left out of the Villa squad that beat Liverpool 2-1 in the 2015 FA Cup semi-final, but he has still tasted success at Wembley before.
The full-back played every minute of Spurs’ extra-time triumph over Chelsea in 2008, in the first League Cup final to be played at the national stadium since redevelopment work began in 2000.
Another player in the Villa squad who has won promotion via the play-offs in the past, Jedinak captained Crystal Palace to a 1-0 win over Watford in 2013.
He also suffered defeat with the Eagles in the 2016 FA Cup final against Manchester United, but will be looking to make up for that setback after scoring the goal to send Villa through to the final.
Snodgrass lined up alongside Elmohamady in Hull’s 2016 play-off final victory, with Bruce hoping the duo can inspire Villa’s hopes this time around.
The day after Snodgrass helped Hull back into the Premier League at Wembley, Hourihane was captaining Barnsley to promotion on the hallowed turf.
It was the midfielder’s second appearance at the national stadium that season, having led the Tykes to victory in the Football League Trophy final in April.
We all remember Jack Grealish’s last Wembley appearance, when he pulled the strings in Villa’s FA Cup semi-final win against Liverpool.
That match was the making of the youngster and, with the form he’s in at the moment, he’ll be confident of delivering another impressive display against Fulham.
Adomah won’t want to dwell on Middlesbrough’s 2-0 defeat to Norwich in the 2015 Championship play-off final but, having enjoyed automatic success the following year, he’ll be hoping to secure another promotion with Villa next week.
Grabban came off the bench for the Canaries in the closing stages of their victory over Boro in 2015, but he’s likely to play a much bigger part at Wembley when Villa take on Fulham.