The two men Martin O'Neill mentioned as possible names to shake up the Ireland squad for next month's World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Wales had contrasting nights.
Sean Maguire scored the second goal of his Preston career - his second goal in the last two Championship games - as his side hammered Cardiff 3-0 at Deepdale.
Over at Villa Park, Scott Hogan - recently declared for Ireland - was in search of his first Championship goal of the season.
Late in the game, with the score at 0-0, Conor Hourihane had a chance for Villa. A Jonathan Kodja header was saved by Darren Randolph in the Middlesbrough goal.
The goal gaping as Randolph lay against the post, Hourihane sent his shot goal-bound only to see Hogan inadvertently stop the ball crossing the line. It surely would have been a winner had it hit the net.
Hogan had entered the action at half-time as a replacement for Mile Jedinak with Boro down a man after Adama Traore was sent-off just four minutes into the game. Villa would also find themselves down to 10 men following a red card for Henri Lansbury with a little over 25 minutes remaining.