With an a league and cup double header coming up, I have looked back at Boro’s best matches against Aston Villa. I’ve focused on the last 30 years because I was actually alive, but if you can remember any older matches please leave a comment.
Aston Villa 1-2 Boro – 9/11/2008
The last time Boro played at Villa Park it was a Tuncay master class. The mercurial Turkish forward took advantage of two defensive errors to grab both goals in a crucial away win following a poor start to the season. It was one of the few bright spots in a desperately poor season that ended in relegation from the premier league.
Boro 3-3 Villa – 10/12/1988
Both teams had just been promoted back to the top flight with near identical records so it was no surprise they couldn’t be separated in an entertaining draw at Ayresome Park. Andy Gray’s long range strike and Alan McInally’s scrappy goal saw Villa fly into an early 2-0 lead before Gary Hamilton bundled home and Tony Mowbray seemingly completed the comeback. But there was still time for Villa to regain the lead with another scruffy strike, before Mark Brennan headed home a late equaliser. The two teams would also finish this season just one point apart – with Boro relegated and Villa narrowly escaping.
Villa 2-3 Boro – 2/10/2005
Steve McClaren’s last season at Boro was a weird season for Boro. Inconsistent league results were offset by that amazing UEFA Cup run and an FA Cup semi-final appearance. The results against Villa that season perhaps encapsulated the season as a whole. They fought their way to a 3-2 win at Villa Park thanks to two goals from Yakubu and a rare George Boateng strike, but Villa would get their revenge later in the season with a shambolic 4-0 win at the Riverside, during which a fan famously ran on the pitch and threw his season ticket at McClaren in disgust!
Boro 3-2 Villa – 3/5/1997
The final home game of Boro’s infamous 96-97 season was a typical Bryan Robson performance. Ravanelli and Beck gave the home side a perfect start to race to an early 2-0 lead, but future Boro player Ugo Ehiogu pulled one back before Savo Milosevice equalised. There was still time for one more twist as Craig Hignett was brought down in the area. Ravanelli smashed home the resulting penalty to secure victory and give Boro hope in their relegation battle. It would all end in tears though as Boro drew their last 3 matches to drop into Division 1. Another interesting fact is that the Villa side that day featured four future Boro players.
Boro 2-1 Villa – 6/2/1990 (ZDS Cup Area Final 2nd Leg)
The Zenith Data Systems Cup may be a long-lost memory of football, but it did give Boro their first taste of a Wembley final. But before they lost 1-0 to Chelsea in the final, they had to overcome top flight side Aston Villa in an epic ‘area final’. Boro were leading 2-1 from the first leg, but fell behind to a scrappy goal at Ayresome Park. The match then went to extra time where Bernie Slaven scored a trademark six-yard poacher’s effort before Paul Kerr’s long range strike made sure of the win.