Fleetwood Town’s pre-season continued to gather momentum as they dispatched a second League One side in four days with two clean sheets in the process.
Second half goals from David Ball and Antoni Sarcevic capped another strong and convincing performance from Graham Alexander’s team in front of 1,455 at Highbury.
These are busy times for Coventry both on and off the pitch.
A week involving four friendly fixtures in five days is unfolding amid a backdrop of unrest among supporters over plans to ground share with Northampton Town over 30 miles away.
Alexander made eight changes from the starting 11 for the Preston game with newest signing, Ryan Cresswell, selected in central defence alongside another summer recruit, Liam Hogan. Town displayed their new black strip for the first time.
Alexander’s former Scotland team-mate, Steven Pressley, chose a mixture of experience and youth with several trialists in a 4-4-2 formation, sporting their traditional sky blue colours.
After a quiet four minutes, Gareth Evans was brought down 20 yards out but his free kick was blocked and the opportunity wasted. Town lined up with five across the middle and Ball a lone striker in front of them. Ball was busy and Evans full of running as the home side made a promising start going forward.
Town’s keeper, Scott Davies, cleared comprehensively into the Parkside Stand under pressure from Fabio Martins as City responded while Hogan came to Cresswell’s rescue following a momentary error by the former Southend player.
The first attempt on goal came from Town in the 16th minute.
A Sarcevic volley from outside the area was comfortably gathered by keeper Joe Murphy. Coventry threatened down the right flank five minutes later.
Aaron Phillips fed Louis Garner who cut in before crossing from a tight angle. Mathieu Manset was unable to capitalise at the near post.
Sarcevic, a goal scorer on Saturday, again caught the eye and could have doubled his tally for the season in the 27th minute, his right foot shot fired across Murphy’s goal. The keeper, under pressure from Ball, handled outside his area two minutes later and was relieved to see Steven Schumacher’s firm free-kick from the left go wide of his far post.
Murphy was clearly the busier goalkeeper during the first half. Evans fired a shot straight at him just after the half hour and, in the 35th minute, Ball hit a fine effort just wide of the post, following good work from Sarcevic once again.
Davies, by contrast, was not tested until the 40th minute when Manset created an opportunity, forcing a corner from Town’s keeper as he dived to his left to save a testing shot from the trialist. Coventry continued to press but Town’s defensive line stood firm, well-marshalled by Cresswell.
Town came under pressure immediately after the break as the Sky Blues stepped up a gear. Davies saved to his left from Manset and there were further efforts from Frank Moussa, Conor Thomas and Garner within the first six minutes of the new half.
A Schumacher free kick was glanced wide by Hogan and, just before the hour, Sarcevic’s shot on the turn from inside the area missed the far post by inches. Alexander made his first changes, Dean Howell and Junior Brown on for Alan Goodall and Schumacher
Coventry pressed again, Hogan almost selling Davies short with a back pass and Moussa firing a stinging shot into Cresswell’s midriff. The visitors looked distinctly more threatening than they had in the first period with pace and some quality touches.
Jon Parkin and Ryan Crowther were the next substitutions for Town, replacing Matty Blair and Gareth Evans.
Garner’s cross in the 73rd minute was pounced on by Moussa whose left-foot volley was narrowly over.
There was then a moment of panic for City. A cross whipped in from the left took a deflection off trialist Craig Reid, forcing Murphy into an acrobatic save.
Following a five-man substitution from the Sky Blues, Town enjoyed good possession in the final third.
Ball hit a long-range effort narrowly high off the outside of his foot after Parkin had chested down into his path.
Ten minutes from the end the striker was to gain just reward for a fine performance when he gave Town the lead. Once again, Sarcevic was at the heart of the action, passing from the right and Ball, in space, turned his shot past Murphy to the keeper’s left.
Five minutes later, there was clear air between the sides as Town went two ahead. Brown headed a Howell cross wide of Murphy. The keeper managed a deflection which Sarcevic ran on to and bundled over the line.