Aston Villa fans would have been forgiven for thinking they had a crucial three points all wrapped up when they were leading Preston North End 2-0 at half time on Tuesday night, but few could have expected the chaos to follow.
After one win in eight, under-fire boss Steve Bruce desperately needed a positive result to slow down the questions about his future, and it all started so well at Villa Park as strike duo Jonathan Kodjia and Tammy Abraham struck in the first half to put Villa 2-0 up against bottom of the table North End.
However, the game completely changed in the second half. James Chester brought down striker Lukas Nmecha for a Preston penalty, and the Welsh defender was given a straight red card before Daniel Johnson stepped up to score against his former club.
Substitute Paul Gallagher then scored from a free kick to put Preston level, and Louis Moult's header appeared to have given Preston an unlikely win as he put the Lilywhites into a 3-2 lead with just three minutes to play.
However, North End can't stop leaking goals at the moment, and did so again as Yannick Bolasie equalised for Villa from close range, and Villa then won a 95th minute penalty after Johnson brought down Birkir Bjarnason – only for Chris Maxwell to save Glenn Whelan's spot kick in a staggering end to the second half.
Preston's come back was unlikely, and appeared to start even before Chester's red card, as they were far more composed on the ball, pushed higher up the pitch and looked more creative, which was largely down to the introduction of midfielder Johnson at half time.
A £50,000 signing from Villa's reserves in January 2015, Johnson has been in and out of the Preston side over the last year, but came back to haunt his former club with a superb second half showing.
Villa fans took to Twitter to react to his performance, suggesting that he was made to look like Andrea Pirlo as he controlled the game in the middle of the park, whilst praising the Villa academy graduate for running the show for North End.
Preston supporters - a little more used to Johnson's inconsistency - were pleased to see Johnson change the game on Tuesday night but called on him to improve further and prove fans wrong, noting that he was 'awesome and 'superb', but admitting that it's performances like this that make him so frustrating.
We made Daniel Johnson look like Pirlo second half. Subs, baffling. Glen Whelan to take a last minute penalty, baffling. #avfc— Andrew Jerina (@AJ_ay_it) October 2, 2018
It wasn’t even the sending off. We got torn apart by Daniel Johnson, oh the irony #avfc— There or thereabouts (@iamsneade) October 2, 2018
Poor 1st half against an even poorer Preston. 2nd half they brought Johnson on and he controlled the game just like bannan. Why when down to 10 take Abraham off when he's better than kodjia at holding the ball up #avfc #bruceout— Lewis Dunn (@lewisdunn96) October 2, 2018
Preston started the 2nd half on the front foot and were well on top with Daniel Johnson running the show. Yet still Bruce/some fans say the sending off was a turning point. Cobblers! #AVFC— Gareth Marsh (@GMarsh79) October 3, 2018
Daniel Johnson impressed me tonight. Ran the show for Preston. #AVFC— Sam McAllister (@SupersizedSam) October 2, 2018
Daniel Johnson is RUNNING the middle of the park, another Villa academy product we let go... #AVFC— Dan Ball (@BallDanielJames) October 2, 2018
Fair play to DJ tonight - I'm his biggest critic but he helped change the game. Hopefully he can go and prove me wrong #pnefc— Gary B (@shabbagaz84) October 2, 2018
Saturday is a must win and DJ has to start, he was a catalyst for the massive (lets be honest it couldn't get any worse) improvement in the 2nd half tonight. #PNEFC— Steven Nicholson (@ste_nic) October 2, 2018
Never thought I'd say this this season but DJ has changed this game massively #pnefc— Gordie Moss (@gordielad) October 2, 2018
Daniel Johnson was awesome when he came on. Well deserved. Start him from now on please.— Richard Gilmour (@Youseethatdot) October 3, 2018
Also, Daniel Johnson was superb from the minute he came on. Got us playing forward and massively changed the game. So much talent and that’s why he frustrates #pnefc— Tom (@tom_pne4) October 2, 2018
Have something to tell us about this article?