Coventry City 0 Preston North End 1 match report: Alan Browne on the spot to ensure Championship safety for PNE
Preston North End guaranteed themselves Championship football with victory over Coventry City at St Andrew's.
Alan Browne's 67th minute penalty settled this clash in the Lilywhites' favour, the skipper scoring after Ched Evans had been fouled by Sky Blues goalkeeper Ben Wilson.
It would have taken a big swing in results anyway for North End to have been in danger, however this victory coupled with defeats for Derby and Rotherham, ensured their Championship status for another campaign.
The game had plenty of action although quality was thin on the ground at times.
Both sides had good chances to score in the first half once the game warmed-up, Max Biamou missing a sitter for the home side while Sean Maguire put a header wide which he should have found the net with.
It was left to Browne to keep his cool from the spot, the successful penalty delivering a 10th away win of the season.
The North End starting XI had shown just one change to the side which had beaten Derby last Tuesday night, Maguire replacing Greg Cunningham.
That meant another switch in position for Tom Barkhuizen, with him moving to play at left wing-back.
The opening stages of the contest were a non-event, neither side able to get into any sort of rhythm on a pitch which looked snd sounded on the hard side.
Coventy should have scored with the first chance of the game in the 21st minute, Bimou somehow lifting a shot over the bar on the stretch from three yards after he had darted forward to meet Gustavo Hamer's clever low ball into the six-yard box.
Sixty seconds after that chance, Sam McCallum's shot from 20 yards clipped first off Ryan Ledson's boot and then flew off Ben Whiteman's head over the bar.
North End came to life at the other end of the pitch, having their first chance in the 27th minute.
It came from a Barkhuizen long throw in which was cleared out of the box as far as Ben Whiteman who let fly from 25 yards, Wilson diving to parry with Evans first to the rebound but unable to get it under control.
Soon after it was the turn of Ledson to go close, his shot from just inside the box following a poor clearance from Kyle McFadzean, pushed behind superbly by Wilson diving to his right.
PNE should have taken the lead in the 38th minute, Barkhuizen's long throw from the right hand side flicked on by Jordan Storey across goal to find Maguire who guided a header wide of the far post.
Just before half-time, former PNE loanee Matty James saw a first-time shot from 20 yards dip inches over the bar.
North End should have had a penalty nine minutes into the second half.
Maguire made a good run through the Coventry half before sliding the ball through to play Evans behind the home defence down the right hand side of the box.
Wilson dived at the striker's feet and didn't seem to get anything on the ball, sending Evans to the floor.
Referee Andy Woolmer looked towards his assistant who signalled for a goal kick.
However, Mr Woolmer was to point to the spot 13 minutes later and had absolutely no choice on this occasion.
Daniel Iversen launched a free-kick from the PNE half into the Coventry box which Wilson came out to try and claim.
But he misjudged the flight of the ball, it bounced over him and Evans nipped in ready to put it into the net - Wilson jumping on his back to take him to the floor.
Browne stepped up to roll the spot kick low into the net, the keeper going the wrong way.
The game got niggly for a spell, Ledson and Sky Blues sub Fankaty Dabo both booked for a bit of 'afters' following the award of a free-kick PNE's way.
North End went close to wrapping the game up in the 85th minute after substitute Emil Riis won a free-kick on the left-wing.
Ledson delivered it right-footed into the box, Evans meeting it and glancing a header across goal, it dropping inches wide of the far post.
Coventry: Wilson, Rose, McFadzean, Hyam, Dacosta (Dabo 74), James, Hamer (Eccles 61), McCallam, O'Hare (Bakayoko 74), Gyokeres (Tyler 61), Biamou (Godden 61). Subs (not used): Allen, Shipley, Burroughs, Marosi.
PNE: Iversen, Storey, Lindsay, Hughes, van den Berg, Whiteman (Potts 78), Ledson, Browne, Barkhuizen, Maguire (Riis 65), Evans (Bayliss 90). Subs (not used): Molumby, Huntington, Sinclair, Cunningham, Gordon, Ripley.
Referee: Andy Woolmer (Northampton)
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