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West Brom fans should bottle up this one element from the Villa defeat and use it next season



The Championship play-offs have been an absolute thrill ride so far and after two pulsating semi-finals we are left with Aston Villa and Derby County to battle it out for a place in the Premier League.

But let us spare a thought for those fallen teams and in particular, West Bromwich Albion.

Jimmy Shan’s side went into the second-leg of their play-off semi-final with Villa 2-1 down and without their star attacker Dwight Gayle.

They were well and truly up against it with Dean Smith’s side never likely to show any sympathy, being in the rampant form they are.

But, the Baggies were spirited and they gave everything they had. Craig Dawson’s early headed goal levelled the tie and until the 80th minute, they looked like the team most likely to score.

A stupid challenge from Chris Brunt, however, saw them reduced to ten men, making the final 30 minutes far simpler than they needed to be for Smith’s men.

And, with the likes of Jay Rodriguez, Stefan Johansen and Brunt now all off the field, Villa strolled to a shoot-out victory.

It is a loss that will hurt the fans for a while and who can blame them? But once the pain has passed they need to realise what this match showed.

When the teams walked onto the pitch at 8pm on Tuesday night they were met by a raucous Hawthorns crowd.

The atmosphere fizzed throughout the match with the vocal away fans barely heard over the bellowing masses of the home support.

With key players missing, you could see just how much this helped the players. It put an extra yard of pace into their legs and took one out of their opponents.

The likes of Leeds and Sheffield United have both shown just how much an electric home atmosphere can carry a side and push them through tough spells this season.

At times, the West Brom faithful have been guilty of moaning, groaning and getting on the players backs – feeling that they should be in the top-two comfortably.

But Tuesday night showed that positive reinforcement from the fans can have a very, very big impact on the players.

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