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Exclusive Daniel Johnson Preston North End column: Thrills and spills of Villa Park trip

Scoring the penalty against Aston Villa in midweek
Scoring the penalty against Aston Villa in midweek

The drama and the intensity of our 3-3 draw at Aston Villa on Tuesday night was something I had not experienced before.

It was absolutely crazy, at times I couldn’t believe what was going on.

We all went through the whole range of emotions, from being on a high after coming back from 2-0 down to get back level and then take the lead, to the despair of conceding the equaliser in stoppage time.

Once we made it 2-2, I thought there was only going to be one winner – you could see a third goal coming and we got it.

For myself, there was that scary moment right at the end when I gave the penalty away.

What happened was that their lad was pulling the back of my top and I was using my arms to keep my balance.

When I looked back at the footage, it did look like I had swung my elbow but that honestly wasn’t the case.

In that situation I didn’t really know what to think, I feared us losing the game.

Looking at our goal I could see Chris Maxwell stood there and I know how good a keeper he is.

I had to put my faith in him and Maxi stepped up to the plate and saved the 
penalty.

We got a point but it should have been all three.

A big talking point from the Aston Villa game was that our goals were scored by substitutes – myself included.

When I was told I was coming on at half-time, the main instruction from the gaffer was that he wanted me to get on the ball and get us playing forward more.

He told me to try and make an impact on the game and the instruction would have been the same for Paul Gallagher and Louis Moult.

For all three of us to find the net was nice and I think that shows the depth and the quality we have got here.

We showed in the second half how good a team we can be when we click.

Even before Villa went down to 10 men with the red card, we had controlled the second half and were on the front foot much more.

When we got the penalty, all my focus was on scoring and getting us back into the game – it wasn’t about the fact I used to be an Aston Villa player and that we were at Villa Park.

It was quite early in the second half and there was lots of time after that to push on for more if I scored.

After the penalty went in, we looked like we were going to score every time we went forward.

Gally came on and scored with the free-kick to pull us level and he played a massive part for us.

He assisted Moulty’s goal with the corner and what a great header it was.

There had been plenty of other chances for us, Lukas Nmecha hit the post with a great shot, Paul Huntington had two or three headers and Callum Robinson had shots saved.

However, our problem at the moment is conceding goals and that is why we only came home with a point.

It is up to us to change that and put things right.

For some reason, and I can’t put my finger on it, we are leaking.

That is our downfall and has been costing us results.

I think scoring the first goal in a game is going to be crucial.

It seems that in the vast majority of games recently we have gone behind and have had to chase the game.

If we can score first it would give us something to build on.

We have to stick together as a group and that is what we’ve been doing – look at how we did on Tuesday by doing that rather than letting our heads drop.

The three goals we scored should give us something to move forward with.

It is largely a young squad here, a lot of the lads are aged between 22 and 26.

As they play more and with the help of the older and more experienced players, we will improve and start to get the results we want.

It is back to Deepdale on Saturday and a game against Wigan Athletic.

There will be a familiar face in their squad in Joe Garner who was a big player for us.

I always got on well with Garns and it will be good to see him.

But our focus is not on the Wigan players, it has to be on what we are all about.

We have to get three points at the weekend, that is the main objective.

Then we have got the break, so a win would set us up for the Hull game later in the month.

Our aim has to be to get up the table as quickly as we can, put a string of results together.

As the season goes on we don’t want to be involved in a relegation battle and it is up to us to get out of it.