Coventry City 1 PNE 1Lee Holmes' first goal for the Club earned North End a deserved point after an excellent performance at the Ricoh Arena.
Holmes scored after going through one-on-one with Luke Murohy following a long put forward from Thorsten Stuckmann with just 13 minutes left, to equalise James Bailey's first half effort - Coventry's only shot on goal all afternoon.
North End’s afternoon started by losing Stuart Beavon in the warm up, David Amoo thrust into the starting line-up, but found themselves behind with Coventry’s only shot on goal in the first half from on loan midfielder James Bailey.
North End themselves, after Beavon’s omission, made four changes, David Buchanan, Chris Robertson and Lee Holmes in for Shane Cansdell-Sherriff (suspended), Luke Foster and Jeffrey Monakana, the last two both dropping to the bench.
Despite the late change to the starting XI, North End had much of the possession and made the running in the opening period. Joel Byrom fired an early ball in from the left on three minutes and the Sky Blues goalkeeper Joe Murphy dropped it almost at Graham Cummins’ feet, however, skipper Richard Wood was able to scoop it clear.
A minute later Andy Procter, who was showing excellent form as the front of five midfielders fired in an arrow from 25 yards, Murphy managed to push the ball out, but it was just away from the onrushing Cummins.
The home side took the lead midway through the first half, with their first and only shot on target in the opening 45 minutes. Full back Blair Adams picked up the ball on the left hand corner of the box and pulled it back to Derby loanee James Bailey on the penalty spot and he slid comfortably into bottom right hand corner.
After the goal, North End continued to dominate possession and with more clinicalness in front of goal could have been level, if not ahead, before the break.
Firstly on 26 minutes, good build up by PNE, eventually saw the ball go out to David Amoo who volleyed wide left from 25 yards.
On the half hour mark a great chance fell to Andy Procter. Lee Holmes won the ball on the left and the No.11 curled a beautiful ball into the edge of the six yard box, Procter was running in, but couldn’t connect with the goal gaping.
On 36 minutes Graham Cummins should have equalised. Good play by Holmes saw the ball switched from left to right, to Amoo on right, he beat his man and delivered onto edge of six yard box, it fell nicely for Cummins, but the Irishman couldn’t connect properly with shot which went straight to Murphy.
A minute before the interval the best chance of the game so far came as David Amoo was sent clean through on goal by Joel Byrom from half way; the No.7 held off his man and beat Joe Murphy, but clipped the top of the cross bar.
The second half started the way the first had ended with North End dominated chances and possession, Procter, Holmes and Buchanan all forcing Murphy into action in the opening three minutes of the half.
On 52 minutes manager Graham Westley made a double change, Beardsley and Welsh replacing Cummins and Procter, who looked to be ill as the half started.
Just after the hour mark Mousinho had a good chance to test Murphy after the ball broke in his favour 25 yards out, but he didn't quite get the perfect connection and Murphy was able to get down low to his left to save.
Jeffrey Monakana came on with 21 minutes left and almost had an immediate impact, setting up Lee Holmes, whose shot was saved and then moments later Holmes saw another effort deflected wide, with the corner causing yet more problems; the home side relieved when Murphy grabbed Holmes right wing cross.
Chris Beardsley almost lobbed Murphy, lifting the ball onto the bar from 25 yards in the 73rd minute as the Lilywhites continued to dominate possession and chances.
North End were level on 77 minutes as Lee Holmes scored his first goal for the Club. The manager had just made a change to 4-4-2 with Jack King going up front and the ball had been hit long by Stuckmann, King had allowed it to go through to Holmes who raced clean through and beat Murphy in a one-on-one to make it level.
With six minutes left Jack King was inches away from giving the visitors the lead as David Buchanan delivered to the back post from Lee Holmes' lay off - it would have been no more than they deserved after an excellent performance.
Stephen Elliott, the Sky Blues substitute and former North Ender missed a great headed chance with two minutes left on the clock with a rare foray into the North End half.
But the game ended level, with North End deservedly fighting back to earn a point.
: Stuckmann, King, Buchanan, Byrom, Robertson, Wright, Mousinho, Procter (Welsh, 52), Cummins (Beardsley, 52), Holmes, Amoo (Monakana, 69). Subs not used: Simonsen, Kane, Foster, Elding.PNE Line-Up
: Murphy, McShffrey, Jennings, Barton (Elliott, 79), Christie, Wood, Edjenguele, McGoldrick, Moussa (Baker, 65), Bailey, Adams. Subs not used: Dunn, Clarke, Cameron, Fleck, O’Donovan.Coventry City Line-Up
: Mr Mike JonesReferee
: 12,230 (638 away fans)Attendance