The Sky Blues suffered a two-nil defeat against Preston North End on a bitterly cold Tuesday night at Deepdale.
Goals in either half from Daniel Johnson and Sean Maguire means City have now lost back-to-back away matches in the league.
Despite applying plenty of pressure, City couldn’t find a way back into the game and will now look to regroup as they head into the new year.
Mark Robins made one change from the side that drew with Stoke City on Boxing Day with Ryan Giles coming in for Sam McCallum at wing-back.
The Sky Blues had the first shot at goal when a corner from the left was worked to Gus Hamer whose shot from 35-yards out was comfortably saved by Preston keeper Declan Rudd.
Preston then took the lead on 18 minutes when Maguire robbed Ben Sheaf of possession on the edge of the Sky Blues penalty area before finding Johnson who finished low into the bottom left corner from eight-yards out.
City almost responded straight from the restart when Matty Godden’s low cross from the right found Hamer bursting into the area only for Rudd to hold onto the midfielder’s effort.
The hosts looked to add to their lead when Johnson crossed for Alan Browne from the right-hand edge of the penalty area, but the midfielder’s header was easily gathered by Ben Wilson.
HALF-TIME: PRESTON NORTH END 1-0 SKY BLUES
City made a quick start to the second-half when Fankaty Dabo’s venomous cross from the right was pushed to safety by Rudd, inside the first minute of the restart.
The Sky Blues continued to search for an equaliser when Giles’ cross from the left was headed over by Callum O’Hare under pressure from a Preston defender.
Preston doubled their lead against the run of play when Maguire turned the ball home from close range after a goalmouth scramble.
Robins made a double change just before the hour mark with Jordan Shipley and Max Biamou introduced as City looked to find a way back into the game.
Jamie Allen was next to try his luck for City, but couldn’t control his volley from 20-yards out with his effort flying over the crossbar.
City made another double substitution with 20 minutes left to play as McCallum and Will Bapaga were brought on with City still searching for a way back into the contest.
The Sky Blues almost halved the deficit when Hamer’s corner from the left was met by the head of Leo Ostigard who couldn’t quite steer his effort on target under pressure from close range.
Hamer once again forced Rudd into a smart save when his thunderous half-volley from 25-yards out was pushed clear before McCallum’s deflected drive was held by the Lilywhites keeper.
McCallum made a superb block late on to deny Emil Riis Jakobsen from adding a third goal for the home side as City finished the year with a defeat ahead of their trip to Millwall at the weekend.
FULL-TIME: PRESTON NORTH END 2-0 SKY BLUES
Goals: Johnson (18’), Maguire (53’)
Yellows: Hughes (31‘), Earl (63‘), Maguire (89’)
Preston North End XI: Declan Rudd (GK), Darnell Fisher, Paul Huntington, Ben Davies, Andrew Hughes, Josh Earl (Jakobsen 68‘), Alan Browne (C) (Potts 56’), Paul Gallagher (Ledson 62’), Daniel Johnson, Sean Maguire, Tom Barkhuizen
Unused Subs: Connor Ripley (GK), Jordan Storey, Joe Rafferty, Tom Bayliss, Josh Harrop, Jayden Stockley
Sky Blues XI: Ben Wilson (GK), Fankaty Dabo, Leo Ostigard, Kyle McFadzean (C), Dom Hyam, Ryan Giles (McCallum 70’), Gustavo Hamer, Ben Sheaf (Biamou 59‘), Jamie Allen (Bapaga 70’), Callum O’Hare (Shipley 59‘), Matty Godden
Unused Subs: Lee Camp (GK), Julien Dacosta, Josh Pask, Marcel Hilssner, Amadou Bakayoko