Villa’s run of draws is finally over - but not in the way we would have liked. Instead of a victory over fellow strugglers Preston North End, Villa succumbed to defeat for the third time in the league this season. Preston North End took the lead almost from the beginning as after just 4 minutes, Ben Pearson beat Mark Bunn to put Preston ahead. Preston could have made it 3-0 in the minutes immediately following, but a combination of Bunn saves and Preston misses kept Villa in striking distance until the 38th minute. Just when it looked like Villa might be able to hold out until half time and make a renewed run at Preston in the second half, Preston made it 2-0 through Jordan Hugill after a sloppy giveaway from Ashley Westwood.
After leaving the pitch under a chorus of boos at halftime, Roberto Di Matteo tried to reinvigorate his side at half time by entering Rudy Gestede and Ross McCormack for Jack Grealish and Ashley Westwood. Gestede and McCormack helped inject a little more energy into the Villa side, but as the minutes ticked on without a goal, morale continued to drop and defeat became clear. Villa managed only one shot on target until stoppage time, when Villa’s second shot on target, in the form of a Ross McCormack penalty kick, was saved. Chants of “you’re being sacked in the morning” rang around Deepdale as the pressure on Di Matteo builds. In a squad so painfully lacking in confidence, morale, and tactical adeptness, it’s difficult to see a path to promotion as it currently stands.
Villa now head into an international break until October 15th, when they will take on Wolverhampton Wanderers.