Preston 2-0 Aston Villa: Roberto Di Matteo's side struggle again
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 01/10/16 7:19pm
First-half goals from Ben Pearson and Jordan Hugill earned Preston a 2-0 win and extended struggling Aston Villa's winless streak to nine matches.
Pearson's early strike was added to by Hugill's tap-in as Preston jumped above Villa, who missed a late penalty through Ross McCormack, to 17th in the Sky Bet Championship table.
It was the first meeting between these Football League founder members since 1974. Preston snatched their early lead in front of the huge travelling Villa support after just four minutes. The ball broke loose to Pearson inside the area and the midfielder calmly slotted past Mark Bunn.
The hosts, who have now racked up three successive home wins, passed up a great chance to double the lead four minutes later as Alex Baptiste headed Aiden McGeady's corner wide from six yards.
Villa, seeking their first league away win in 14 months, had their first chance after 24 minutes but Jonathan Kodjia, the most expensive signing in Championship history, headed wide from 12 yards.
Preston continued to dominate and deservedly doubled their advantage after 39 minutes. Pearson robbed Ashley Westwood of possession and played in Daniel Johnson, but the ball broke off Bunn and fell to Hugill who tapped in from three yards.
Rudy Gestede was introduced at half-time for Villa, who have now won just one of their last 24 league games stretching back to last season. He should have pulled one back after 48 minutes, heading over unmarked from Jordan Ayew's corner. And Gestede passed up another opportunity from a corner seven minutes later, glancing across the face of goal.
Roberto Di Matteo's side pushed for a goal that would have given them hope but were struggling to break down a resilient Preston defence, as Albert Adomah launched an optimistic effort in the 76th minute well over the crossbar.
But they did come within inches of a lifeline after 82 minutes when McCormack's 20-yard free-kick rippled the side-netting. And all hope was extinguished for Villa when McCormack had a penalty saved by Chris Maxwell with virtually the last kick of the game, after a foul by Bailey Wright in the area.
Preston manager Simon Grayson:
"Money brings you good players which is what Aston Villa have got. We have players who want to make careers in the game. They worked, pressed and made it very uncomfortable for Aston Villa.
"If that penalty had gone in at the end it would have been an unfair reflection of how the game went, we were worth a two-goal lead.
"We asked questions of Villa from start to finish. It was a good way to end the busy schedule that we've had.
Aston Villa manager Roberti Di Matteo:
"There's a team here that is good, it will come good for us. We will keep working. I have faith in the team, I believe in the team and I think that come the end of the season they will be up there.
"It's been a bad day at the office for sure. We are 10 points from sixth place so it's still all possible. It's normal that when the results of the team aren't what you expect, the results will be questioned. That's part of our job."