By Jake Hartley-Moore – Reporter
Preston North End produced a great performance to comfortably beat Aston Villa 2-0 at Deepdale.
The Lilywhites showed a dominant first half performance against Villa as they started in the perfect way as Ben Pearson got the opening goal just 5 minutes in as he latched onto a loose ball in the middle of the Aston Villa box to coolly slot into the bottom corner past Mark Bunn.
North End very nearly doubled their advantage a few minutes later as McGeady played a low ball from the right hand-side across Villa’s goal for Robinson’s shot to be blocked on the line.
From the resulting corner Preston’s captain Tom Clarke glanced a header wide of the left hand post
PNE continued to dominate as McGeady once again played a low cross into the Villa six-yard area for Hugill to have two efforts saved by Mark Bunn and then Callum Robinson’s follow up blocked behind for a corner.
Preston once again registered another effort on goal as Robinson lofted a ball up into the box for Hugill under pressure to head over which was followed by a chorus of Aston Villa fan boo’s directed at boss Roberto Di Matteo.
The visitors did start to show signs of promise as Kodjia found himself in acres of space on the left hand side of Preston’s half only for his inviting ball to be narrowly missed by Grealish.
Villa started to slowly get into the game as Kodjia met Ayew’s free kick with a header which then went just wide of the North End goal.
Preston however continued to show great attacking promise as Callum Robinson shifted the ball onto his right foot for him to curl an effort just over the Villa goal from 20 yards out.
McGeady continued to show his class as he managed to fire a low 25-yard effort towards Mark Bunn’s goal only for the keeper to smother it after some nice footwork from McGeady.
Jordan Hugill missed a great chance to put Preston 2-0 up as he took down Cunningham’s lofted ball exquisitely only for his curling effort just outside the six-yard box to go wide.
Preston doubled their advantage six minutes before half-time after a ball into Johnson’s path only for him to be intercepted and then bounced invitingly into Hugill who slotted the ball into the empty net.
As the second half got under way it was the ex-Premier League side who had a great opportunity to half the deficit in the opening two minutes of the half as Rudy Gestede a half- time substitute headed over from a corner 6 yards out.
Villa again came close again early on into the second half as Rudy Gestede low header from Jordan Ayew’s corner veered across Preston’s goal and wide.
Preston came close to adding a third as Callum Robinson’s powerful left footed strike on the edge of the box was pushed behind by Mark Bunn for a corner only for Tom Clarke’s looping header to be gathered by Bunn from the resulting corner.
The ex-Premier League side tried to break down Preston’s resilient defence as Ross McCormack chanced his arm from 20 yards out with a low left footed volley only for it to be charged down and cleared away.
Villa’s lack of composure going forward continued to show as Albert Adomah strike from 30 yards out ventured wildly away from Preston’s goal creating no threat once again as Preston maintained their control in the game.
As the final 10 minutes commenced Preston were dealt with a blow as Aiden McGeady appeared to limp off with what looked to be a hamstring injury which Simon Grayson will hope is not too serious.
Ross McCormack came agonisingly close as his 25 yard free-kick just drifted past the left hand post into the side netting.
The visitors did gain a penalty as Cunningham pulled Kodjia in the box for McCormack penalty to be saved by Maxwell as the keeper got down well to his bottom left hand post to push it away.
The win sees the Lilywhites go up to 17th place as Aston Villa drop down to Preston’s previous position before the game to 19th to remain on 10 points after 11 games.