FULL TIME: Coventry 1-1 PNE

Preston North End's Manager Graham Westley
Preston North End's Manager Graham Westley
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Lee Holmes earned Preston North End a draw in their clash with in-form Coventry City at the Ricoh Arena.

The winger ran clear in the 77th minute to slot home his first goal for PNE, the left-foot strike bringing Graham Westley’s men level after John Bailey had given the Sky Blues a first-half lead.

It was no more than North End deserved after bossing the second half, Holmes’ goal delighting the 638 travelling fans.

Preston had been forced to change their side after the publication of the team sheet, with Stuart Beavon pulling out through injury and replaced in the starting XI by David Amoo.

It meant a late call-up to the bench for Todd Kane who had travelled with the squad but hadn’t been in the original 18.

The game’s first chance fell to Andy Procter, the midfielder letting fly with a shot from 25 yards which Sky Blues keeper Joe Murphy dived to parry away.

At the other end, Blair cut inside from the left and screwed a low shot across the face of goal which former PNE midfielder Adam Barton slid to try and reach but couldn’t get a touch to.

Amoo’s cross after quarter of an hour was sliced high towards his own goal by William Edjenguele, forcing Murphy to come out and gather under pressure from Graham Cummins.

Coventry took a 21st minute lead, its origins being a powerful shot from David McGoldrick which was blocked by Chris Robertson and bounced out to the insde-left channel.

Gary McSheffrey was first to the loose ball, taking it to the byeline and pulling back a low cross for Bailey - on loan from Derby - to sweep home a first-time shot from 10 yards.

On the half hour mark, Holmes got beyond the Coventry defence on the left and put over a peach of a cross which the incoming Procter got on the end of but couldn’t direct his header on target.

McGoldrick drove a shot from the right side of the PNE box just wide of the far post in the 35th minute.

Within sixty seconds, North End were on the attack, Amoo’s cross nodded down by Procter into the path of Cummins who could only roll a shot straight at the keeper.

The visitors were were the width of the woodwork away from a 44th minute equaliser, Amoo latching on to a ball over the top and running clear on the left.

As he got into the box he lifted a shot over the advancing Murphy but saw it clip the top of the bar and bounce over.

A minute into the second half, Procter’s low shot from the edge of the box lacked power and enabled Murphy to save comfortably.

To be fair to Procter, he had done well to even be on the pitch because of illness - he was physically sick by the touchline moments before the second half started.

And it was no surprise to see him replaced by John Welsh in the 52nd minute, part of a double change with Chris Beardsley coming on for Cummins.

With North End still adjusting to the switches, Coventry almost added a second goal when McSheffrey lifted a free-kick into the visitors’ box, McGoldrick stealing behind the defence and looping a header over the bar.

In the 63rd minute, Welsh seized on a stray pass out of the home defence and struck a low drive which forced Murphy into a diving save.

Soon after that, a weaving run from Joel Byrom finished with him shooting over the bar from 20 yards.

North End’s decent spell of pressure continued as a Jack King cross flashed across the penalty area, evading three in-rushing PNE players.

Then Holmes miscontrolled inside the six-yard box after getting himself on the end of a Byrom centre.

But the winger showed far more calmness to bring North End a deserved equaliser in the 77th minute.

Thorsten Stuckmann launched a big kick forward, the ball bouncing over the Coventry centre-backs under pressure from King and Beardsley.

Holmes stole in behind them to run into the box and slot a low left-foot shot past Murphy.

North End then almost took the lead five minutes later, King - by now pushed up to support the attack - connecting with a David Buchanan cross and heading inches wide.

There was a scare at the other end in the 88th minute, Stuckmann failing to get to a deep cross from the right, presenting substitute Stephen Elliott with a free header at the back post.

But with the goal at his mercy, Elliott could only direct his effort over the bar, much to Stuckmann’s relief.

Coventry: Murphy, Christie, Wood, Edjenguele, Adams, Bailey, Barton (Elliott 79), Jennings, Moussa (Baker 65), McSheffrey, McGoldrick. Unused subs: Clarke, Cameron, Fleck, O’Donovan, Dunn.

PNE: Stuckmann, King, Robertson, Wright, Buchanan, Amoo (Monakana 69), Mousinho, Procter (Welsh 52), Byrom, Holmes, Cummins (Beardsley 52). Unused subs: Kane, Foster, Elding, Simonsen.

Referee: Mike Jones (Chester)

Attendance: 12,230