Steve Bruce praised his Villa players for their resilient display and felt it was important to keep a clean sheet and take an advantage into the second leg.
Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce has warned his players not to start dreaming of Wembley despite taking a priceless lead into their Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-final with Middlesbrough.
Mile Jedinak’s 15th-minute header at the Riverside handed the Midlanders a 1-0 lead to take into the return leg at Villa Park on Tuesday, but Bruce is taking nothing for granted.
He said: “We are pleased. Listen, all the cliches are going to come out, aren’t they? Of course. We know the Championship is riddled with strange things.
“We have given ourselves a little advantage, a small advantage, but we’re winning 1-0 at half-time.”
Jedinak’s effort, as he glanced home a Jack Grealish corner, ultimately won the day but it was Villa’s game-management, led by vastly-experienced skipper John Terry, which saw them home.
Highlights from the Sky Bet Championship play-off semi final first leg between Middlesbrough and Aston Villa.
Only a fingertip save by Boro keeper Darren Randolph denied Robert Snodgrass a second goal.
Bruce said: “That would have been crucial. That was a great save. I think if that had gone in, it might have been all over.
“I made that decision to try to get experienced players in the door so they could handle what Aston Villa throws at them. I thought it was vitally important that they can handle Aston Villa.
“That was the reason for going for the experience of [Glenn] Whelan, [Ahmed] Elmohamady, John Terry, of course, Mile – they all handle playing under pressure for a big club.
“When you’re asking them to play in big semi-finals like tonight, then you need them to come to the party and, to a man, they did. I thought they were terrific.”