Coventry City 4 PNE 4
Two injury-time goals ended an absolute thriller at Sixfields with Coventry coming from behind three times to earn a point in front of the lowest league crowd PNE had played in front of for ten years,
The opening goals came in the first half, Tom Clarke lashing home from a corner on nine minutes and Leon Clarke converting unmarked on the counter for City after 24 minutes.
The Lilywhites reacquired the lead 19 minutes into the second half with a wonder goal on the volley from Aussie centre half Bailey Wright, but the lead only last five minutes as Callum Wilson tapped in from close range when substitute Manset's shot was parried out by Rudd into the Coventry man's path.
The third came from Wilson again; his second fired hard and low into the bottom left hand corner after a break down the right hand side by the Sky Blues, however, substitute Joel Byrom headed home Tom Clarke's cross with four minutes to go.
Four minutes of injury time was signalled and Chris Humphrey slotted home from close range after a mix up at the back by the home side and then Manset backheeled to level things up with a minute left to end an enthralling encounter.
North End got off to the best possible start, early pressure converted into a goal, when the second of a brace of Lee Holmes outswinging corners from the right was flicked on by Kevin Davies and met at the back post on the half volley by Tom Clarke, who shot, via a deflection, ended up in the bottom right hand corner from ten yards out.
The home side were level just after the midway point in the half. The Sky Blue broke with pace down the right, with a two on one situation, Callum Wilson drew David Buchanan towards him, allowing him to slide the ball across to the penalty spot to former PNE forward and Coventry skipper Leon Clarke who fired home unmarked, riling the North End faithful by running across the front of them behind Rudd’s goal to celebrate.
Straight up the other end and Lee Holmes was inches away from making it 2-1 North End, with an immediate reaction; his left foot shot from 25 yards sliding past the right hand post after a lay off from Kevin Davies.
Just before the half hour mark a free kick was given away by Keith Keane on the edge of the ‘D’ in a central area, Leon Clarke again stepped up to take it and it was over the wall, but back off the cross bar and eventual over to safety.
The home side’s frontman looked lievely and Clarke dragged a shot wide of the left hand upright after Declan Rudd fails to get distance on a punch and Wilson laid the ball off for the Coventry skipper.
With two minutes to go in the half Will Hayhurst, into the side for Chris Humphrey almost capitalised on indecision at the back by Cyrus Christie, but his shot was blocked by Andy Webster at close range after running onto Davies’ flick on.
The home side started the second half well, with Clarke again a threat, exchanging a one-two with Moussa, before curling a shot over Rudd's cross bar from just inside the North End box.
North End had a great chance to go back ahead on 63 minutes; John Mousinho, just on for John Welsh, collected Kevin Davies' exquisite back heel, but Joe Murphy did brilliantly to block for a corner.
However, from the corner North End had the lead with a goal of the season contender even at this early stage of the campaign. Lee Holmes' corner was headed up and Kevin Davies took a whack to lift the ball out to Bailey Wright who volleyed with the outside of his right boot over Murphy and in off the corner of post and cross bar.
And it was almost three minutes less than a minute later when a clever Keith Keane ball was over the Coventry defence and Joe Garner was there to lift a clever header up and over Murphy towards the same corner, but this one landed an inch over on the corner of the net,
However, the lead only last five minutes as Sky Blues sub Mathieu Manset broke into the box on the right hand side, fired in a low shot that Declan Rudd could only parry out into the path of Callum Wilson who slotted home unmarked from six yards out.
A great tackle by David Buchanan denied the marauding Manset with 17 minutes left, blocking the shot of the powerful frontman and from the resulting corner Kevin Davies was needed to block on the line after a melee in the box.
With 11 minutes to go Leon Clarke left the upright shaking for the second time in the match, meeting Callum Wilson's squared ball and then firing a powerful drive that beat Rudd but came smashing back off the right hand corner of post and bar.
The home side took the lead for the first time with seven minutes left on the clock, Callum Wilson again raced down the right, holding off the challenge of Paul Huntington and firing hard and low into the bottom left hand corner of the goal.
The Lilywhites were back level with four minutes left, Joel Byrom, involved for the first time this season, rising highest to meet Tom Clarke's whipped right wing cross low into the bottom right hand corner, Joe Murphy getting a hand to it, but unable to keep it out.
But then in the second minute of four added on for stoppages the real drama! A huge long ball from Declan Rudd was jumped for by Kevin Davies; he fell to floor and everyone stopped except Chris Humphrey who was clean through with no keeper and coolly slotted into the net.
It still wasn't over though as Coventry ran down the right hand side and Cyrus Christie drilled the ball across and Manset calmly backheeled past Rudd to make it 4-4!
: Murphy, C Christie, Adams, Webster, Thomas, Fleck, L Clarke, Moussa, Daniels (Manset, 67), Wilson, J Clarke. Subs not used: Burgem, Barton, Willis, Garner, Haynes, Lobjoit.Coventry City line-up
: Rudd, Clarke, Buchanan, Keane, Huntington, Wright, Holmes, Welsh (Mousinho, 62), K Davies, Garner (Byrom, 82), Hayhurst (Humphrey, 62). Subs not used: Stuckmann, Laird, Beavon, Hume.PNE line-up
: Mr R MadleyReferee
: 2,068 (562 away fans)Attendance