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Match Reports

Coventry City (H) 2013/14

18 January 2014

PNE 1 Coventry City 1

Coventry City grabbed an unlikely point at Deepdale with virtually the last kick of the game at Deepdale in controversial circumstances.

Match official Kevin Wright had signalled four minutes of stoppage time, but the Sky Blues equalised six minutes and 17 seconds after the 45 had been completed, with a 35-yard Franck Moussa strike grabbing the goal.

It was the only time that the visitors had hit the target in earnest on an afternoon that saw further woes for North End as Kevin Davies was sent off, having seemingly to that point given Simon Grayson's men the points, smashing home David Buchanan's left wing cross in front of the Town End eight minutes into the second half.

He saw red for an innocuous tackle on the left touchline, a decision, like the over time played, that left his manager is disbelief at the refereeing display of the Cambridgeshire official.

The PNE gaffer had brought back the likes of Joe Garner, John Welsh and Buchanan into the starting XI - all rested for the win over Ipswich - and there was also a home debut and first start for Scott Wiseman at right back in a 4-4-2 formation for the Lilywhites.

The opening ten minutes was more lively than the first hour of the cup tie the previous Tuesday, North End dealing with some early set pieces from the visitors before getting on the offensive.

They came to life on eight minutes, Andy Webster clearing off the line from Paul Gallagher after a John Welsh right wing cross to the back post and within a few seconds Gallagher then forced an excellent double save from Joe Murphy in the Sky Blues goal, the left-sided forward firing at goal with left footed drive from Buchanan’s ball in from left.

Two minutes later Lee Holmes flashed wide after good build up play; Davies picked up the ball on the right and fed it out to Holmes whose right footed shot was just wide of the right hand upright.

The first real chance for the visitors came on 22 minutes. Scott Wiseman brought down Franck Moussa 25 yards from goal, but former North End loan player Leon Clarke’s free kick was dealt with by the wall, Declan Rudd not having to do anything other than catch a couple of crosses for much of the first half.

Just after the half hour mark the first gilt-edged chance of the game fell to North End’s top scorer Garner. 

Some excellent build up play found John Welsh in a central position 40 yards from goal, he spun and fed the ball through to Garner, who got beyond Dan Seaborne, but his effort brought a great save from Joe Murphy, who tipped the ball over the bar.

On 42 minutes Neil Kilkenny saw a left footed shot saved by Murphy, with the Aussie international getting no real power behind the ball, but he was involved again a minute before the break, his ball in from the right finding the head of Kevin Davies, but his effort was inches over the bar from 12 yards out.

The second half began at an electric pace and North End had the lead on 53 minutes. 

A superb one-two between Garner and Buchanan sent the full back surging down the left, before he whipped a superb low ball in to where the on-rushing Kevin Davies fired with power off the underside of the cross bar and into the back of the net for North End’s 7,000th goal in league football.

At the mid-point in the half Franck Moussa put a tasty ball right across the six yard box for the Sky Blues, but there was no one on hand to put the ball in and it eventually went harmlessly out for a goal kick, but despite having more of the possession they were rarely getting into dangerous areas to concern North End.

But the first real moment of controversy came with three minutes to go as Davies was shown a straight red card by Kevin Wright. He went for a tackle near the left touchline, but was nutmegged by Cyrus Christie, who hurdled the tackle of the former England frontman, taking a tumble. Everyone got up expecting a yellow to follow, but the red card came out, leaving everyone in the ground - including both managers - perplexed at the decision.

If that was inexplicable, what followed was even more so. Four minutes was added on by the officials and North End seemed to have comfortably handled that, playing much of it in their opposition's corners; but 15 seconds into the seventh minute of added on time the ball fell to Franck Moussa 35 yards from goal, who hit a stunning strike with his left foot into the top right hand corner giving Declan Rudd no chance.

The whistle followed immediately after the restart, with North End players, fans and management all left in shock at the decisions that had cost them two points in injury time for the second time in a season against the Sky Blues.

PNE line-up: Rudd, Wiseman, Buchanan, Kilkenny, Clarke, Wright, Welsh (Keane, 74), Holmes (Humphrey, 75), K Davies, Garner, Gallagher (King, 90). Subs not used: Stuckmann, Beavon, Hume, Brownhill.

Coventry City line-up: Murphy, Christie, Adams, Wester, Thomas, Fleck, Baker (Slager, 82), L Clarke, Moussa, J Clarke (Daniels, 54), Seaborne. Subs not used: Slager, Burge, Barton, Phillips, Willis, Haynes.

Attendance: 10,671 (932 away fans)

Referee: Mr K Wright

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