North End defender Billy Jones, who twice cleared off the line, broke the deadlock before on-loan Iain Hume opened his account for the club in first-half stoppage time with a stunning finish.
But it was visiting keeper Andy Lonergan who walked off with the man of the match award, producing a series of fine saves including a superb late stop to push David Bell’s effort onto a post.
The introduction of new signing Marlon King, on his return to professional football, at the start of the second half fed the enthusiasm of everyone in a Sky Blue shirt and he certainly provided a threat – playing his part in Aron Gunnarsson’s consolation while also seeing an effort cleared off the line.
But it was Preston who came away with all three points and deserve plenty of credit for their battling qualities in the face of adversity, avoiding an unwanted record for the club’s longest losing sequence since the winter of 2002/2003.
King’s arrival earlier in the week had been met with a mostly positive response from supporters, although some had threatened to boycott today’s game due to the nature of his prison sentence for sexual assault and causing actual bodily harm.
His name was met with applause and cheers when read out over the stadium’s public address system ahead of kick-off.
And there was plenty more for the majority of a 14,945 crowd to get excited about with the hosts certainly the more dangerous over the opening quarter.
Richard Wood saw his header well cleared off the line by Jones while Lonergan twice produced superb saves to deny Lukas Jutkiewicz.
But it was North End, against the run of play, who took the lead in the 35th minute.
Jones, having saved the visitors at his own end, pounced to turn in the rebound after Keiren Westwood had kept out Sean St Ledger’s header, although the Sky Blues keeper should maybe have come to collect the corner.
Chances were coming thick and fast at either end, with both keepers proving their worth, before Preston took a 2-0 lead in first-half injury time.
And there were again question marks about Coventry’s rearguard as Keith Treacy’s blocked shot broke for Hume who found himself in acres of space, although the forward’s curled finish with the outside of his boot was something special.
Coventry started the second half on the front foot and King’s 53rd-minute introduction added fresh impetus.
But Lonergan was proving a constant thorn in City’s side and he produced another brilliant stop to deny Wood.
Yet there was nothing he could do in the 61st minute as a long ball was pumped into the box which King headed down into the path of Gunnarsson who fired home.
King was then denied a goal of his own by another crucial block from Jones – with Coventry players claiming the Preston defender used his hand in the process.
Westwood did well to deny Darel Russell a third for the Lancashire outfit before Lonergan continued his heroics at the other end, denying Bell and King, to help clinch the points for Darren Ferguson’s men.