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Result: Spoils shared at Deepdale between Preston and Villa

Result: Spoils shared at Deepdale between Preston and Villa
© Reuters
Bundled goal enough for North End to take a draw.

Preston sealed a valuable 1-1 draw against Aston Villa at Deepdale.

On-loan Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham's 14th goal of the season put Villa in front in the first half before Lukas Nmecha's close-range finish after the break – which took a deflection off Ahmed Elmohamady but the Lilywhites striker claimed as his own – ensured the shares were spoiled.

The result ends Preston's run of two defeats in Championship action over the festive period, as promotion-chasing Villa picked up a third draw in their last five league matches.

The hosts flew out of the traps, with Jordan Storey hitting the bar after just two minutes – as Villa failed to clear a corner – before Tom Barkhuizen lofted a half-volley over the bar a minute later.

Both sides struggled to generate any fluency in the opening 45 minutes, with Abraham frequently isolated for the visitors and Nmecha finding it difficult against an experienced Villa defence.

Graham Burke almost sparked the contest into life on 33 minutes, latching onto Daniel Johnson's chipped pass, but Orjan Nyland reacted well to tip his volley wide.

Abraham created a half-chance on 42 minutes, jinking past two Preston challenges and into the area before curling an effort over the bar.

But Dean Smith's side made the breakthrough on the stroke of half-time, as Glenn Whelan's whipped corner found its way to Abraham at the back post, who nodded home from close range.

The second period began with a flurry of chances, with Nyland saving well with his legs from Nmecha before Declan Rudd was called into action to repel Conor Hourihane's long-range strike.

Preston grabbed an equaliser on the hour mark, as Nmecha bundled home a cross from Johnson from a yard out – with the aid of Elmohamady.

The Manchester City loanee looked determined to score a second goal, curling wide from 25 yards on 65 minutes and being denied by a last-ditch James Bree tackle two minutes later.

Barhuizen then hit the post from just inside the area from Johnson's through ball before blazing the rebound wide from a tight angle, as Preston pushed for a winner.

Villa remained a threat in the closing stages and Anwar El Ghazi forced Rudd into a smart save on 79 minutes.

Smith's side almost stole all three points at the death as substitute Birkir Bjarnason lashed over the bar from close range on 90 minutes and Rudd then denied the Iceland international in added time.

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Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce pictured on May 15, 2018
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Leeds UnitedLeeds28166647301754
2Norwich CityNorwich28158552361653
3Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd28155846291750
4West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom27138655352047
5Middlesbrough281211531201147
6Derby CountyDerby2813784035546
7Bristol City2812883529644
8Hull City28117104135640
9Swansea CitySwansea28117103732540
10Blackburn RoversBlackburn28101083741-440
11Birmingham CityBirmingham2891274033739
12Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest2891273932739
13Aston Villa2891275145639
14Queens Park RangersQPR28116113439-539
15Stoke CityStoke2891183335-238
16Sheffield WednesdaySheff Weds2898113345-1235
17Brentford28810104339434
18Preston North EndPreston2889114345-233
19Millwall2878133444-1029
20Wigan AthleticWigan2885152841-1329
21Rotherham UnitedRotherham28510132746-1925
22Reading2858153143-1223
23Bolton WanderersBolton2757151840-2222
24Ipswich TownIpswich2839162248-2618

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