Aston Villa were held to a 3-3 draw at Villa Park by the Championship’s bottom side Preston North End in a dramatic encounter under the lights. Villa boss Steve Bruce came into the contest under pressure, with his side winning just one of their last eight games heading into the game.
It looked as though that run would come to an end as Aston Villa dominated the first half and led 2-0 at the interval, with goals from Jonathan Kodija and Tammy Abraham.
However, the game changed just after half time as Bruce’s side were reduced to ten men, as Villa’s captain James Chester brought down Lukas Nmecha as the Preston striker went clean through on goal. Preston pulled a goal back from the resulting penalty, coolly converted by Daniel Johnson. Paul Gallagher then scored with a curling free kick to draw the visitor’s level with eleven minutes remaining, before Louis Moult headed in Gallagher’s corner with four minutes to play and looked to have secured a vital win for Alex Neil’s side.
However, there was still plenty of late drama still to come, as first substitute Yannik Bolasie equalised in the 91st minute finishing well under pressure. Remarkably the ten men of Aston Villa had the opportunity to secure the win that looked so assured at half time, Johnson brought down Birkir Bjarnasson in the box but Glen Whelan’s 96th minute spot kick was saved by Preston keeper Chris Maxwell.
That late penalty miss could have severe repercussions for Bruce, who is coming under more and more pressure the longer Villa’s poor goes on for. A win could have moved Villa on level points with Brentford and Swansea, who currently occupy the final two play-off places, but Bruce’s side are now two points behind them and sit in 12th place on 15 points. However, it was evident given their late fightback with ten men that the players are still playing for Bruce, and if they can get that much-needed victory quickly they may be able to turn around their fortunes and climb up the table.
For Preston meanwhile, it could be considered both two points dropped, and a point gained, given they were two goals behind at halftime but also in front heading into stoppage time. Neil’s side remain routed to the bottom of the table and have now won just one of their opening 11 Championship matches. Preston’s main problem is the amount of goals they are conceding, with the three goals conceded against Villa meaning they have now conceded 24 so far, by far the worst in the division, until Neil’s side improve defensively they will continue to struggle for wins.