League One preview: Climb aboard the Sky Blues

Betting advice from Michael Holden of Best of the Bets

Preston booked their place in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy northern area semi-final with penalty shoot-out success at Bury in midweek but reality could bite in stark fashion when they come up against the next team standing in their path on the road to Wembley.

North End travel to Coventry in League One on Saturday and it's a sizeable task made no easier by how much they channelled into the game at Gigg Lane on Tuesday. The Sky Blues are motoring along just nicely, winning eight of their last 11 matches, and they look a solid bet to take the spoils at odds of 5/4.

Mark Robins' men were outstanding at Doncaster last weekend, dominating from start to finish as they put four goals past the team who started the day in second spot. Ordinarily, we'd be wary of what comes next after such a stellar performance but it was hardly a flash in the pan.

The Midlanders have been building up a head of steam for several weeks and what strikes most is the refusal of several players to get carried away when interviewed by local reporters. Nobody is waxing lyrical about what's happened and there are no wild predictions about the future, everyone is just enjoying their football.

It's an attitude that probably stems from the fact that many of the key performers have been acquired on loan deals and January promises to be an interesting month as Robins looks to tie-down the likes of David McGoldrick, Franck Moussa, James Bailey and Blair Adams to longer deals.

McGoldrick is the real sensation, though, with 15 goals in 18 league starts since on a temporary move from Nottingham Forest and the Sky Blues are bound to be facing fierce competition for his signature when the window reopens on January 2. McGoldrick is noncommittal but his new colleagues are working hard behind the scenes in persuading him to stay.

We would have had a few reservations about Coventry's home record, which has been dodgy ever since they moved into the sparsely-populated Ricoh Arena, but those fears have been eased somewhat by an emphatic 5-1 win over Walsall that came at our expense a fortnight ago.

Slowly but surely, Robins is pulling down the psychological barriers that have held back all previous signs of progress and though the starting XI might look rather different in the New Year, it's fair to assume Coventry are now officially a club on the mend.

You could argue Graham Westley has made even greater progress at Preston given the lack of co-operation he was granted by the players he inherited from three different regimes when walking through the door last January. He has done the bulk of his long-term rebuilding work already but short-term league form is a problem.

With Keith Keane and Scott Laird both sidelined by long-term injuries in the last month, you get the impression this is now turning into a season of consolidation for the Lancashire club even though they only trail their hosts by a point.

All of which means the knockout competitions now take on added significance and we have a sneaking suspicion that, privately, Westley might be treating this game as a dress rehearsal ahead of next month's JPT return when respective transfer business means he might be better equipped to emerge triumphant.

Betting advice...

2pts Coventry to beat Preston at 5/4 (Bet365, Bet Victor)
Sky Blues can continue blistering league form against a North End team sidetracked by cup exploits.

For more betting advice, visit Best of the Bets by clicking here.

voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn