Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Villa Will Be Favourites in Play-Offs - Boro Boss; IPSWICH TOWN 2 MIDDLESBROUGH 2

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Villa Will Be Favourites in Play-Offs - Boro Boss; IPSWICH TOWN 2 MIDDLESBROUGH 2

Article excerpt

TONY Pulis believes Aston Villa will be "big favourites" for their Championship play-off games against his Middlesbrough side.

The Boro boss was speaking after his side grabbed a draw at Ipswich in their final regular season game with a 96th-minute strike by substitute Patrick Bamford.

The result kept the Teesside club's four-match unbeaten run intact and retained their momentum ahead of the two games against the West Midlands side.

Ipswich's goals came from a wonderful Freddie Sears strike in the eighth minute and a penalty by Martyn Waghorn after 83.

The visitors replied through Stewart Downing in the 71st minute and an equalizer deep into injury time from substitute Bamford in a frenetic period when Daniel Ayala had a goal disallowed for offside and chances by Bamford and Britt Assombalonga were denied by the Ipswich defence.

Pulis said: "If you had given me a play-off position when I took over the football club I wouldn't have cared who we were playing so I can't be judgmental or care or worry about who it is.

"We have got Villa who most probably have the strongest squad in the Championship and it will be a real tough game. They will be big favourites I'm sure."

Reflecting on the game against Ipswich, he said: "I thought it was a real good game.

"I thought they looked dangerous more so second half on the break than what they did first half and we had loads of opportunities and chances and never created enough shots on goal if I was going to be critical.

"But they kept going and have got good spirit."

He claimed that Ayala was onside when he put the ball in the net towards the end of the game and added: "He is in an onside position when it comes off the bar and he taps it in. He shouldn't be offside.

"People make decisions and you have to get on with them. We have got more things to concern ourselves about than the linesman getting it wrong. …

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