The two managers reflect on Sunday's game.
CHRIS HUGHTON believes the disappointed reaction from Brighton & Hove Albion’s players after missing out on winning the Sky Bet Championship showed just important finishing as champions was to them.
Jack Grealish’s 89th-minute goal prevented the Seagulls from finishing in first position, and Hughton felt the timing of Villa’s equaliser was cruel.
He said, “The response from the players afterwards showed what it meant to them. You want them to have that disappointment and feel that way, because that’s when it really matters.
“If Villa had scored earlier, then we’d have been pushing and pushing; but at that late stage of the game, it made it even tougher for the players to take.
“We’ve finished behind a Newcastle side that spent massive amounts in the summer, and are a Premier League outfit. We’ve also managed to finish a good few points ahead of the team below us.
“We’ve managed to do that for two years. Today’s a negative day, because it’s difficult, but there are far more plusses. What these lads have achieved this season has been fabulous.”
Hughton finished by thanking Albion’s supporters for their tremendous backing throughout the season, and believes the appreciation has gone both ways, as they pushed the Seagulls towards promotion.
“They’ve been brilliant all season for us. One thing they have done is really appreciate what the players have given.
“They were very good last year when we came very close; the atmosphere in the second leg of the play-offs against Sheffield Wednesday was the best atmosphere I’d seen at the club.
“From then, they’ve got even better. This is a club that’s not been in the Premier League, so I think they appreciate how tough it is, especially having watched Championship games week-in week-out.”
STEVE BRUCE reflected on Albion’s disappointment at not winning the league title, but congratulated the Seagulls on achieving promotion, as he looked at the bigger picture.
The Villa boss spoke about a previous experience of his own, and believes Albion’s players will remember the main achievement from this season, before getting ready to compete in the Premier League next season.
He said, “I can sympathise with them because it happened to me when I was at Birmingham. We had been top of the league for so long and went to Preston trying to win the league.
“We came away from Preston with a defeat and Sunderland put six past Luton. It feels like it puts a dampener on it, but they will go on holiday, look back and think ‘job achieved’.
“Yes they would have liked the title, I’m sure of that, but they have been promoted. Congratulations to them.”
Nathan Baker received a straight red card for tripping Sam Baldock inside the area, which led to Glenn Murray’s opening goal from the spot, but Bruce felt his team deserved a penalty of their own.
“He’s missed a stonewall penalty from Keinan Davis. He got their penalty right – it looked a penalty and a red card to me.
“But the one on Keinan five minutes before that was a big point in the game. Up until we went down to 10 men, we had the better chances. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take one at that point.
“I think we showed today just what the Championship is – it’s tough and even with 10 men we didn’t give it up. We got our reward."