DCSIMG

PNE 2 Coventry City 2 full-time

 

Goals from Graham Cummins and Nicky Wroe helped Preston North End earn a draw against Coventry City at Deepdale and halt a three-game losing run.

Cummins, a surprise starter up front, put PNE in front against the run of play in the 29th minute, finishing off a Jeffrey Monakana cross from close range.

Until then, Thorsten Stuckmann had stood between the Sky Blues and an opening goal, pulling off a string of fine saves.

The visitors eventually found a way past Stuckmann seven minutes before the interval, former Preston loanee Leon Clarke netting against them for the third time this season.

And they took a 53rd minute lead, Carl Baker’s cross coming off both Chris Robertson and debutant Paul Connolly on its way over the line.

North End equalised on the hour mark, Nicky Wroe driving home a powerful finish from Jack King’s knock down.

While their run in the league without a home win stretched to a 10th game and to four months, the point on a difficult pitch was a welcome one for Graham Westley’s men.

Westley handed a first-team debut to 17-year-old defender Ben Davies, the youngster preferred in the left-back slot to David Buchanan who was among the substitutes.

Joe Garner and Stuart Beavon also moved down to the bench, Cummins coming into the attack where he was initially partnered by Monakana.

Another debutant was right-back Connolly after his arrival on loan for the rest of the season from Leeds United.

North End’s groundstaff had worked from 6.30am this morning to ensure the game went ahead, clearing snow off the pitch covers and from the car parks and surrounding areas.

The weather and recent training sessions had certainly taking their toll on the playing surface, with the central areas looking devoid of grass.

Early on, Cummins got on the end of a Connolly free-kick at the back post but headed high and wide.

Stuckmann produced the first of a series of good saves, getting a touch to Franck Moussa’s shot to take it beyond the post.

North End almost took a sixth minute lead, King steaming in to meet a Wroe corner and send a header goalwards, only for Stephen Jennings on guard duty by the post to clear off the line.

At the other end, Carl Baker’s 20-yard shot was tipped over by Stuckmann, the German keeper a few minutes later doing likewise with a Clarke header from John Fleck’s centre.

James Bailey lifted as shot over the bar from 10 yards when played in from the right by the impressive Baker.

Then it was Baker’s turn to be denied by Stuckmann, the former Morecambe midfielder’s low shot saved low by the post.

King was too high with a shot from the edge of the box, Monakana setting up the chance after some good play on the right.

A powerfully-struck angled shot from Baker was parried out by Stuckmann diving to his left, the keeper almost single-handily keeping North End in the game at this stage.

For all Coventry’s pressure, it was PNE who broke the deadlock in the 29th minute, Monakana the creator with Cummins supplying the finish.

Davies lifted the ball forward to the edge of the box, the ball breaking out to Monakana on the right.

He drove a powerful low centre across the face of the six-yard, Cummins stretching out a foot at the far post to guide it into the net.

Coventry responded with Bailey getting in front of the home defence but he put his shot too close to Stuckmann.

Their equaliser arrived in the 38th minute, Moussa unlocking the PNE defence with some good work down the left side of the box.

His cross fell to Clarke who brought it under control before slotting a low finish past Stuckmann from close range.

Lee Holmes almost restored North End’s advantage moments later, a weaving run taking him to the edge of the box from where he dragged a shot inches the wrong side of the far post.

Four minutes into the second half, Wroe whipped a free-kick round the wall and just wide as Sky Blues keeper Joe Murphy scrambled across.

The visitors went ahead in the 53rd minute, getting a helping hand from two PNE boots along the way.

Baker skipped into the box from the right-wing and crossed low, the ball bouncing off Robertson’s out-stretched foot and then appearing to clip Connolly on its way over the line.

Within seven minutes North End had pulled level, Joel Byrom’s cross from the left won by King in the air.

His knock down fell into the path of the inrushing Wroe who drove a first-time shot past Murphy from 10 yards.

The game developed into something of a midfield battle after that, with clear-cut chances few and far between - North End looking the stronger as the half went on.

A Wroe corner cleared everyone in the box and dropped behind at the back post, then a few minutes later, the midfielder floated over a cross which found Cummins.

But the Irishman could only direct his header wide of the target.

PNE: Stuckmann, Connolly, Wright, Robertson, Davies (Buchanan 84), Wroe, King, Byrom (Procter 71), Holmes, Monakana, Cummins (Garner 84). Subs not used: Huntington, Beardsley, Beavon, Taylor.

Coventry: Murphy, Christie, Wood, Edenguele, Adams, Jennings, Bailey, Moussa, Baker, Fleck (Barton 90), L Clarke. Subs not used: J Clarke, Thomas, Cameron, Bell, O’Donovan, Dunn.

Referee: David Cotte (Nottingham)

 

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