Preston North End v Coventry City - Dave Seddon's verdict: Big night and a big result for Frankie McAvoy
Preston North End’s German and Danish alliance combined to delight a Scotsman and several thousand Lilywhites supporters inside Deepdale.
Patrick Bauer and Emil Riis netted the goals which brought PNE their first win in the Championship since August 28.
The pair struck within eight minutes of one another, Bauer with a towering header and Riis finishing off a piece of quick-thinking from Alan Browne with a shot as emphatic as you’ll see.
It flipped the mood inside the ground on its head, North End having been booed off at half-time after Tyler Walker had fired Coventry ahead in the 45th minute.
For Frankie McAvoy it was a welcome win and indeed a much-needed one.
Six draws and a defeat in the last seven league games had seen flak come his way.
On Monday there had been Tom Barkhuizen’s colourful press conference which had fanned the flames.
Hence we saw another side to McAvoy when he stood and faced the media once the dust had settled on this win.
Criticism is part of the job, a big part in fact, but the head coach felt some of it had been unjust.
He bristled at suggestions many of the points gathered by PNE this season had been undeserved.
A defence of his favoured 3-5-2 system was launched and he reflected on his record in the Preston hotseat.
McAvoy’s 24 matches in charge had seen 11 wins, eight draws and five defeats.
The Scot held his hand up and accepted there had been too many draws of late. But he reasoned those had not been sacking fodder either.
Far less criticism will come McAvoy’s way if he can get North End playing more regularly in the manner they did in the second half on Wednesday evening.
In my eyes they had played second fiddle to Coventry in the first half without being dominated.
The Sky Blues will have gone in at the interval feeling they deserved their lead.
As their manager Mark Robins pointed out, they failed to ram home that advantage and instead PNE – charged-up by the half-time booing – got their game together in the second half.
Coventry didn’t have a shot on target after the interval, they barely had a chance at all.
Instead it was North End on the front foot, McAvoy of the view it was up there with the best 45 minutes of his reign.
Victory was timely with the focus now firmly on Saturday’s derby at Blackpool.
The Seasiders won their Wednesday night game too, so both teams now have some forward momentum.
On an evening when Bauer and Riis finished so well, when McAvoy stood his corner, what should not get overlooked was a milestone game for Browne.
The captain made his 300th appearance for PNE, the 27th player to gain membership of that exclusive club.
By his own admission, he’s not been himself in some of the games leading up to 300.
In the second half of this one Browne was much more like his old self.
The Irishman drove North End on, covered the ground, put in a shift.
His quickly-taken free-kick set up the winner for Riis, with him also having a part in Bauer’s goal.
Next to him in the midfield he had the recalled Ben Whiteman.
I had Whiteman down as starman, with him on song in the first half as well as when PNE got going in the second.
Coventry moved the ball and used the full width of the pitch in the first half.
Their 45th minute opener saw Callum O’Hare exchange passes with Fantakty Dabo as they moved up the right.
O’Hare fed a pass to Walker inside the box who seemed to kick the ground first but still have time to swing again and fire past Daniel Iversen.
PNE equalised in the 61st minute, Whiteman’s corner cleared to Browne who fed a pass back out to him.
Whiteman lifted it into the box where Bauer jumped to angle a header into the net via the inside of the post.
In the 69th minute, Browne slipped a free-kick from the left channel to Riis, the Dane cutting into the box and on to his right foot before hammering a shot over the keeper.
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