Match Report


Posted By  Nick Connoll ,  Thu 20 Dec 12

Coventry City booked their place in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy area final after the most dramatic of finishes at the Ricoh Arena.

Steven Jennings gave the Sky Blues a deserved first half cushion five minutes before the break with a back post tap-in after a well worked free kick but Preston levelled the score through Luke Foster seven minutes after the hour.

The visitors then found themselves ahead with a fortunate deflection from Stuart Beavon's shot with ten minutes to go but City turned the game on it's head with two injury-time goals from Carl Baker and Leon Clarke to put them just just two gams from Wembley.

City boss Mark Robins rang just one change to the side that was knocked out of the FA Cup by Tottenham at the weekend, bringing in John Fleck to start in place of Franck Moussa.

The Sky Blues started proceedings at an encouraging pace and very nearly opened up the Preston back line via route one after three minutes when a quick long kick from Joe Murphy sent Carl Baker racing down the right hand side, his through ball finding Steven Jennings who poked an effort at goal but was shrugged off by Shane Cansdell-Sherriff in the process, forcing him to put his shot wide.

Leon Clarke then forced the first save of the night out of Steve Simonsen when he latched onto a lobbed ball over the top but could not nudge the bouncing ball past the Preston 'keeper.

City's confidence was evident early on and they went close again on 12 minutes when Gary McSheffrey picked up the ball just inside the visitors' half and ran towards goal before pulling the trigger from 25 yards, his shot going just wide of the post.

They went closer still on their very next attack when Leon Clarke whipped a cross across the six-yard area which just evaded the outstretched boot of James Bailey who was racing in towards the back post.

Clarke was nearly on the end of an identical cross from Baker on the opposite side after 18 minutes, the striker connecting with the delivery but not before it had travelled past the post with the touch taking the ball wide.

City fans were then preparing to celebrate an opener eight minutes before the break when a superb flowing move involving John Fleck, Baker and McSheffrey ended with a short through ball to Clarke who was left with a finish from a tight and angle and pulled his effort just wide of the foot of the far post.

The Sky Blues got the lead their play deserved five minutes before half time though through a well worked set-piece. Baker floated in a free-kick which William Edjenguele headed across the box for Jennings to tap home at the far post beyond a scrambling Simonsen.

The early stages of the second half were in stark contrast to the first as both sides battled it out in a scrappy midfield battle which saw City try and release Leon Clarke with a handful of probing through balls, all of which ended up running through to Simonsen.

The first real chance of note of the second half was infact Preston's equaliser whena whipped in corner from the right met Foster to headed home from six yards.

City thought they had got the lead back straight away when a floated free kick from Baker picked out Edjenguele whose looped header cleared Simonsen and dropped under the crossbar into the net, but the assistant referee had his flag raised for offside against the Frenchman whose goal was then chalked off.

The Sky Blues went close again with 15 minutes to go when Baker did well to carve out an opening for himself only to poke his finish across the face of goal and just wide.

It was inches again two minutes later when a low, measured ball into the six-yard box looked destined for the boot of Leon Clarke only for Simonsen to get an outstretched fingertip to the ball and cut out the delivery.

It was the woodwork that then kept the hosts at bay when substitute Franck Moussa won a free kick 20 yards out and Baker's dead ball effort clipped the top of the crossbar.

It was the visitors who got a second against the run of play though with ten minutes to go when Stuart Beavon's shot from the edge of the area deflected off the back of Richard Wood's boot and left Joe Murphy with no chance as it rolled into the net.

Despite the sucker punch the Sky Blues stuck to the task and yet again were a whisker away when McSheffrey fired another powerful ball across the area which skipped across the faces of three City players on its way out for a throw on the opposite side with five minutes to go.

And they were rewarded for their late industry when, two minutes into injury time, a deep cross from Moussa found Baker at the back post to squeeze an equaliser between Simonsen and the wordwork.

The drama then did not end there as City pushed for a winner with only 60 seconds left on the clock and they got it. Baker's shot from 25 yards was parried by Simonsen but only as far as Leon Clarke who had had the simplest of finishes to tap home and send City into the Johnstone's Paint Trophy area final.

Attendance: 12,665 (485 away)


Coventry City: Murphy, J Clarke, Wood, Edjenguele, Adams, Jennings (Moussa 74), Bailey (Thomas 52), Baker (c), Fleck, McSheffrey (Elliott 86) , L Clarke
Subs: Dunn (GK), Cameron

Preston: Simonsen, Cansdell-Sherriff (Robertson 17), Wroe, Holmes, Byrom (Monakana 55), Garner, Buchanan, Welsh (c), King, Foster, Beavon (Procter 81)
Subs: Stuckmann (GK), Beardsley

Bookings: Garner (PNE)

Referee: R Madley
Assistant Referees: A Clayton, J Wilson
Fourth Official: M Haywood

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