Preston North End 1 Coventry City 1
Coventry City might just be hitting form at the right time in the Championship season.
The Sky Blues claimed a much deserved point at high-flying Preston last night to keep them in the shake-up in and around the top six just before the busy December fixture programme.
After slipping behind to a first half goal from David Nugent, City earned a draw thanks to Dele Adebola’s second goal in two games.
After success at Queens Park Rangers at the weekend, Coventry City manager Micky Adams named an unchanged starting line-up with Clive Clarke keeping his place in the centre of midfield alongside Michael Doyle.
There was no room for top-scorer Stern John after Adebola’s fine all round display that was rounded off with a goal at Loftus Road. And, just as they did in West London on Saturday, Coventry bossed the game early on as Adebola and Leon McKenzie looked lively in the opening 25 minutes.
In fact, the Sky Blues looked every inch a match for the home team who hadn’t lost at Deepdale in 28 games before last night’s clash.
Coventry’s only failing during the early exchanges was their inability to make their pressure tell with an opening goal. Clarke, who once again proved a solid central midfielder, forced a save from Carlo Nash in the first minute but City wasted a glorious opportunity after six minutes.
Darren Currie set McKenzie free down the left with a neat pass and the former Norwich striker did superbly to outstrip his marker to get to the byline.
McKenzie should have picked out the unmarked Adebola in the box but instead struck his low cross into the legs of a defender and the chance was lost.
Coventry continued to dominate and looked most likely to take the lead. But Preston were bound to have a spell of pressure and where Coventry could withhold the opposition on Saturday, it was more difficult against the quality of Patrick Agyemang and Nugent.
Richard Duffy denied Nugent the opening goal in the 23rd minute when the England Under-21 international burst past Marcus Hall but found City’s other full-back less easy to beat as the Welshman crunched into a tackle on the edge of the area.
But Nugent did open the scoring before the break with a fine header. Pugh fired in a perfect cross from the left and the Preston striker showed why so many Premiership clubs are interested in his services as he beat Elliott Ward in the air and powered the ball goalwards.
Andy Marshall managed to get his hand to it but could only push it against the underside of the crossbar but couldn’t stop it crossing the line. City could have gone in at half-time all square but Colin Cameron’s low shot deflected off a Preston boot and struck the post before falling wide.
There were signs at the start of the second half that the home team could run away with it as they began to look more like a side that harbour hopes of automatic promotion.
Nugent should have doubled his tally for the night after good work from Whaley in the 54th minute but the striker snatched wide from eight yards.
Coventry came back though with Currie beginning to become more involved and after a series of telling crosses he almost grabbed the equaliser but his low shot was handled well by Nash.
Coventry boss Adams threw on Jay Tabb and Stern John in search of an equaliser. And it almost worked immediately when Adebola knocked down for John inside the box and just as the striker looked to pull the trigger he appeared to be tripped from behind but referee Rob Lewis waved away the City claims for a penalty.
Adams’s men got the goal they deserved when Adebola showed great strength to hold off his man before cutting into the box from the right and then gave Nash no chance with a powerful low shot into the corner of the net.
PRESTON NORTH END (4-3-3): Nash; Alexander, St Ledger (Wilson), Chilvers, Pugh; Sedgwick, McKenna, Miller (L Neal 73); Whaley, Agyemang (Dichio 83), Nugent. Subs: Dichio, Ormerod, C Neal.
COVENTRY CITY (4-4-2): Marshall; Duffy (Kyle 78), Page, Ward, Hall; Cameron (Tabb, 67), Doyle, Clarke, Currie; Adebola, McKenzie (John 67). Subs: Birchall, Bischoff.
Referee: Rob Lewis (Shropshire)
Bookings: Coventry– Adebola (persistent infringement), Ward (handball), Tabb (dissent)