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Tykes late show another blow for Villa

UNDER PRESSURE: Villa manager Roberto Di Matteo

CHAMPIONSHIP FOOTBALL can be a great leveller and so it proved when League One play-off winners, Barnsley shared the spoils with last season’s Premier League whipping boys, Aston Villa.

The home side earned a 1-1 draw after late on with a scrappy equaliser by substitute Sam Winnall and so consigned Villa to a seventh draw in eight matches – it is now 417 days since Villa managed a victory on the road.

Despite being starved of any success on the road for so long, 5,000 fans made the trip from Birmingham to Yorkshire and for the large point remained in good voice until the 90th minute sucker punch by the home side, who gleefully arrested a run of back-to-back defeats to give confidence ahead of their derby against Leeds at the weekend.

Barnsley have carried forward their buoyancy after a spirited promotion campaign, while Villa – despite wholesale changes to their squad – remain in a malaise.

Villa, who were classier throughout, should have buried their hosts, but they struggled to turn possession into goals though did eventually wear down Barnsley with a Jordan Ayew effort on the hour in the the bottom corner.

Barnsley boss Paul Heckinbottom clearly had factored going a goal down into his gameplan. “Villa had spells when they were breaking with pace and power. We got stretched, but recovered quickly. We knew that after conceding that if we changed the shape then we could get back into it,” said the Tykes boss.

Three substitutions did the trick – they stilted Villa’s desire and desperate need to push on for a second and as nerves jangled late on, the Midlanders once again crumbled leaving manager Roberto Di Matteo perplexed.

“It’s difficult to understand why we don’t manage to kill the games off. We continually put ourselves under pressure by not finding a second or third goal. We had excellent opportunities in this game.”

The Italian has yet to complete 100 days in the Villa hotseat, but remains confident that he won’t join the managerial merry-go-round. What happens at Preston North End on Saturday may be telling however.

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