Memory match: Preston's victory over Aston Villa in October 2016

Twice in the space of two years Aston Villa managers have perished after matches against Preston North End.

Thursday, 27th December 2018, 12:39 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 5:20 pm
Preston midfielder Ben Pearson celebrates giving his side the lead against Aston Villa at Deepdale in 2016

Steve Bruce’s exit from the Villa hot seat in October made the headlines – a cabbage had been thrown in his direction before a 3-3 draw at Villa Park.

But that was so 2016, with North End having been the last opponents for Roberto Di Matteo.

The Lilywhites beat Villa 2-0 at Deepdale on October 1, 2016, with the axe falling on Di Matteo a couple of days later.

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Ben Pearson scores for PNE against Aston Villa at Deepdale

First-half goals from Ben Pearson and Jordan Hugill gave PNE victory.

Pearson’s goal early in the game remains his only one competitively in club colours.

Victory was a thoroughly deserved one, with North End playing some great football on the day.

Not even the award of a late penalty against them would spoil the day – Chris Maxwell saved the spot-kick from Ross McCormack.

Jordan Hugill scores Preston's second goal against Aston Villa

More than 17,500 were at Deepdale to see Preston’s first win over Villa since 1969.

Mind you, meetings in the intervening period had been few and far between.

North End went in front inside five minutes, the ball breaking off a Villa defender into the path of Pearson on the edge of the box.

The midfielder took a touch, moved into the box and tucked a low shot past goalkeeper Mark Bunn as he came off his line.

Preston goalkeeper Chris Maxwell is congratulated after saving a penalty against Aston Villa

Much of the first-half play belonged to Preston, a cross from Aiden McGeady to the near post finding Callum Robinson whose shot was deflected behind.

McGeady put the resulting corner into the middle where Alex Baptiste got up highest but headed wide.

An almighty scramble at the quarter-hour mark saw Daniel Johnson, Hugill and Robinson all have shots blocked.

A rare Villa attack saw left-back Aly Cissokho put in a centre which evaded Jack Grealish and Albert Adomah in the box before going out of play at the far side.

Back at the other end, a PNE corner was cleared as far as Greg Cunningham.

The Irishman delivered the ball into the middle, Hugill controlling before scooping a shot too high.

PNE’s second goal arrived six minutes before the break, Pearson wrestling possession off Ashley Westwood in midfield and driving forward.

His pass played in Johnson who was tackled in the box, the ball falling into the path of Hugill who finished from close range.

Villa made a double change at the break, with strikers McCormack and Rudy Gestede introduced.

An early second-half chance fell Gestede’s way, his 48th minute powerful header from Jordan Ayew’s corner flying just over the top.

The Lilywhites appealed loudly for a penalty in the 57th minute when the ball struck a Villa arm to prevent a cross reaching Hugill but referee Peter Bankes waved play on.

Robinson’s shot from just inside the box was parried behind by Bunn.

McGeady delivered the corner deep, skipper Tom Clarke rising to loop a header goalwards, one which Bunn managed to pluck out of the air.

Deep into stoppage-time, Villa were awarded a penalty when Bailey Wright tugged back Jordan Amavi.

McCormack stepped up to take it, Maxwell going the right way and diving to push it behind.

The PNE fans celebrated, with the 5,400 travelling Villa supporters calling for the head of their manager – they got their wish.