Unconvincing Coventry take their chances

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Despite being outplayed in a frantic second period when down to 10 men, Coventry salvaged an unlikely victory from this testing Worthington Cup fixture.

Despite being outplayed in a frantic second period when down to 10 men, Coventry salvaged an unlikely victory from this testing Worthington Cup fixture.

After a lively opening, with both sides attempting to impose themselves in midfield, Coventry broke the deadlock with a simply executed goal. Youssef Chippo was the provider with a curling cross from the left which an unmarked Ysrael Zuñiga headed firmly beyond David Lucas.

With a slippery surface to contend with, measured play was in short supply and mistakes were frequent. Mark Rankine was unfortunate not to equalise in Preston's first attack of note when Magnus Hedman in the Coventry goal failed to grip a high ball, but the midfielder's strike ricocheted to safety from an outstretched limb.

Moments later, with the visitors struggling to reinstate a sense of composure at the back, Brian McBride, the American striker on loan from Columbus Crew, shot just wide from 15 yards. It took Preston some time to adjust their natural style to the conditions and physical strength of their Premiership opponents - their normally constructive passing approach giving way to a more contact game.

Michael Appleton almost profited from a counter attacking move, his header just wide after a ball was supplied from a scorching run down the left flank by Lee Cartwright. But, in first-half injury-time, the home side fell to a sucker punch - Colin Murdock mis-headed a deep corner into the path of Marcus Hall to drive home through a crowded box.

The Lancastrians were back in the game within three minutes of the restart. Marcus Williams appeared to handle on the deck and Graham Alexander scored from the resulting penalty. Resurgent, the home side took control and set up camp in the Coventry box. Cartwright should have equalised from a Steve Basham low cross, but stubbed his shot and McBride skewed a shot just wide of the mark. On a rare break from defensive duties, Craig Bellamy fed Zuñiga whose chipped shot evaded Lucas and crept past the post.

The balance of power shifted again when Hall was dismissed after tussling with McBride The home side continued to press - Basham headed over the bar, Rankine missed a one-on-one chance and McBride was denied by Hedman's save. Preston, though, were effectively out of the competition when Gavin Strachan scored from the spot after Appleton fouled John Aloisi.

Preston North End (4-4-2): Lucas; Alexander, Gregan, Murdock, Edwards; Cartwright, Rankine, Appleton, McKenna; McBride, Basham. Substitutes not used: O'Hanlon (gk), Jackson, Eyres, Robinson, Parkinson.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Hedman; Edworthy, Shaw, Williams, Hall; Eustace, Palmer, Chippo (Strachan, 51), Hadji; Zuñiga (Breen, 51), Bellamy (Aloisi, 80). Substitutes not used: Telfer, Kirkland (gk).

Referee: J Winter (Stockton-on-Tees).

Comments