Match report: Aston Villa 2 PNE 2

Jordan Hugill led a second-half comeback as Preston North End recovered from going two goals behind to earn a draw against Aston Villa at Villa Park.

Saturday, 21st January 2017, 10:05 pm
Updated Saturday, 21st January 2017, 11:42 pm
Jordan Hugill celebrates scoring PNE's equaliser at Villa Park

Hugill scored twice in 12 minutes, his first an excellent solo effort then the equaliser a powerful header into the roof of the net from an Aiden McGeady cross.

It turned the game on its head after North End had played second fiddle to their hosts in the first half.

Villa were well worth their 2-0 lead at half-time, although there was much controversy about the penalty which led to the second goal.

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Albert Admoah tapped them ahead in the 22nd minute, then McGeady was harshly adjudged to have fouled the winger nine minutes before the break.

It was former Middlesbrough man Adomah who picked himself up off the floor to score from the spot.

As the teams trooped off at half-time, there was little to suggest that a comeback would be on the cards.

But credit to North End, they were the better side in the second half and no one could begrudge them a share of the spoils, the performance and character delighting the 2,700 travelling supporters.

PNE manager Simon Grayson had made two changes to the starting line-up, Tommy Spurr replacing the suspended Greg Cunningham and Daniel Johnson returning at the expense of Daryl Horgan who dropped down to the bench.

North End were very much second best to Villa throughout the first half, with them unable to get to grips with the home side's movement.

They looked especially exposed on their right side, there seemingly little protection for Marnick Vermijl against Andre Green and Jordan Amavi.

In the 12th minute, Green headed wide of an empty net after Gabriel Agbonlahor had lifted the ball to the far post..

Jack Grealish got behind the North End defence and put a low cross into middle which travelled across the six-yard box without any Villa getting near it.

In a bid to stop Villa's flow, North End switched to a 4-1-4-1 system from the 4-4-2 they had started with, Paul Gallagher moving inside into a deeper role.

Villa took the lead in the 22nd minute, Agbonlahor running beyond the PNE back line to chase Grealish's chipped ball into the box.

Chris Maxwell seemed a little hesitant coming to meet it initially, colliding with the Villa striker with the loose ball falling to Adomah who tapped in from close range.

Both the keeper and Agonlahor needed treatment amid the celebrations around them.

Villa's pressure continued with Gralish's shot clipping off Gallagher and going behind, then Ashley Westwood volleyed over after a clearance had fallen to him.

North End fell further behind in the 36th minute and rather controversially.

McGeady looked to have won the ball when tackling Adomah in the box but referee Andy Madley pointed to the spot.

He was persuaded to go over to speak to his assistant on that side of the pitch and there was a long consultation before Mr Madley again signalled a penalty.

Adomah stepped-up to slam the spot-kick high into the net.

PNE's first chance of real note did not arrive until two minute into time added on at the end of the first period, Paul Huntington meeting a Gallagher free-kick but looping his header too high.

Three minutes after the break, McGeady's low shot from 20 yards skimmed wide of the near post.

North End grew in confidence from there, looking much better than they had done in the first half.

Horgan joined the action just before the hour, replacing Callum Robinson who had been quiet against his former club.

The deficit was halved in the 64th minute, PNE breaking up a Villa attack with Johnson feeding a pass out to Hugill on the left channel, just over the half-way line.

Hugill drove forward through the Villa half, cut inside before pulling the trigger with a right-foot shot on the edge of the box, one which flew into the roof of the net.

A fine block from home keeper Sam Johnstone denied Hugill at close quarters in the 70th minute, but the front man was not to be denied an equaliser six minutes later.

McGeady was the creator, beating Alan Hutton on the left-wing and sending over a cross which Hugill rose to head home from six yards.

That was Hugill's last contribution, a knock to his right knee taken between the goals forcing him, with Jermaine Beckford taking his place.

North End came close to a third goal, Spurr's long throw in headed on my Browne at the near post, Johnstone grabbing it on the line.

At the other end, Maxwell dived to parry Adomah's low shot at the near post.

Five minutes of stoppage-time produced a few skirmishes around the edge of the Preston box but little to worry them and they saw it out to claim the point.

Villa: Johnstone, Hutton, Chester, Baker, Amavi (Gardner 88), Adomah, Lansbury (Bacuna 77), Westwood, Green, Grealish (Davis 90), Agbonlahor. Subs (not used): Richards, Elphick, Tshibola, Bunn.

PNE: Maxwell, Vermijl, Clarke, Huntington Spurr, Gallagher, Browne, Johnson, McGeady, Robinson (Horgan 59), Hugill (Beckford 78). Subs (not used): Boyle, Grimshaw, Pringle, Makienok, Lindegaard.

Referee: Andy Madley (West Yorkshire)

Attendance: 32,415 (2,700 PNE)