The Sky Bet Championship Play-Offs get underway tonight as we make the trip to the Vitality Stadium to take on AFC Bournemouth. Both sides will be looking for an advantage to take into Saturday's Second Leg in West London and we have all the match build-up below.
After seven straight wins propelled them into the Play-Off picture, Bournemouth somewhat stumbled over the line with three consecutive defeats to end the campaign. 1-0 reverses to Thomas Frank's Bees and Wycombe Wanderers, before a 2-0 final day loss at home to Stoke City, saw Jonathan Woodgate's side end the campaign in sixth to set up this week's Semi-Final.
That seven game run through March and April showed the talent that Woodgate has at his disposal. The Cherries won those games, which included victories over Swansea City and Norwich City, by a combined 21-5 to ensure their participation in the end of season showdown.
Only Brentford (79) and Norwich City (75) scored more than Bournemouth (73) this campaign, 51 of those goals coming from open play, while only the top three of The Canaries, Watford, and The Bees had a better goal difference than The Cherries.
Bournemouth were also the only side in the league to have three players reach double figures for goals this term in Dominic Solanke (15), Arnaut Danjuma (15), and Junior Stanislas (10).
The January addition of Ben Pearson from Preston North End added steel to their midfield, alongside Jefferson Lerma, allowing the exciting front four of David Brooks, Philip Billing (above), Danjuma, and Solanke the freedom to express themselves higher up the pitch.
Thomas Frank declared Rico Henry fit in yesterday's press conference but there will still be no Shandon Baptiste, Henrik Dalsgaard (both knee), and Josh Dasilva (hip).
Lewis Cook (knee) is out for the season while Junior Stanislas (hamstring) is definitely out of tonight's game and may miss Saturday's return leg.
Sacked by hometown Club Middlesbrough last June, it was a whirlwind return to football for Woodgate at the start of Febuary. Appointed on the Monday as a senior first team coach, by Wednesday he was the caretaker manager after Jason Tindall's departure, and three weeks later he had the job until the end of the season.
Woodgate's playing career began with Boro before moving to Leeds United at the age of 16. He made his debut at the age of 18 and amassed 142 appearances over the next five seasons before moving to Newcastle United. As injuries began to take their toll, he made just 37 appearances before an ill-fated spell at Real Madrid. He returned to the UK and Boro in 2006 but managed just 178 appearances over his final ten seasons with Boro, Tottenham Hotspur, Stoke, and then again on Teesside. The central defender also played eight times for England over a nine-year spell.
After a brief spell as an international scout for Liverpool in Spain and Portugal, Woodgate was appointed assistant coach to newly-appointed Middlesbrough caretaker manager Steve Agnew, following the dismissal of Aitor Karanka. After the club were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the season, Woodgate vacated his position and joined the club's Academy coaching staff. In December 2017, Woodgate returned to his previous position as first team assistant coach, under the management of Tony Pulis, whom he then replaced in June 2019.
LAST TIME OUT
HOW TO FOLLOW
Tonight's game is exclusively live on Sky Sports.
Only audio passes are available to buy on ifollow.