Match ends, Coventry City 1, Notts County 1.
Coventry City 1-1 Notts County
Marc McNulty's controversial late penalty rescued a draw for Coventry to leave their League Two play-off semi final with Notts County in the balance.
Jonathan Forte's instinctive 49th-minute strike looked to have earned Notts the halfway advantage before Friday's second leg at Meadow Lane.
But, in the 87th minute, Matt Tootle was adjudged to have fouled Tom Bayliss despite appearing to play the ball.
And McNulty steered home the spot-kick for his 27th goal of the season.
On a tricky surface at the rain-lashed Ricoh Arena, both sides contributed to an exciting tussle, which produced an ultimately fair result.
The game was always likely to be played at a fast, error-strewn pace from the moment that the heavens opened an hour before kick-off and left puddles of standing water on the playing surface.
Coventry made a roaring start, McNulty hitting the post with a low shot and the follow-up from Max Biamou being deflected wide.
But the Sky Blues also had a miraculous escape when home goalkeeper Lee Burge somehow hooked away Forte's goal-bound effort for a corner.
It took another frantic goal-line clearance by Chris Stokes to keep Notts at bay at the start of the second half, rapidly followed by Jack Grimmer going close again for City with a header just over the bar.
Notts went in front when left-back Daniel Jones did well to keep his feet better than Coventry's defenders in what seemed the most rain-affected corner of the pitch, and the alert Forte timed his near-post run perfectly to flick the ball into the back of the net.
After a couple of unanswered penalty shouts, Coventry were starting to run out of ideas until referee Gavin Ward blew for a spot-kick - and McNulty kept his nerve, sending goalkeeper Adam Collin the wrong way.
It was not the first controversial incident of the match, with Coventry defender Tom Davies not punished by the officials after appearing to tread on Richard Duffy's leg while the Notts centre-back was lying on the ground.
Coventry manager Mark Robins told BBC Coventry & Warwickshire:
"It had everything - goals, a thunderstorm in May and nearly 20,000 fans singing their hearts out in a tremendous atmosphere.
"We built momentum against a good team and we deserved something from the game. But I've seen the penalty back and, in fairness, if it had been given against me, I'd have felt disappointed.
"Maybe that little bit of luck was justified in that the second of the other penalties we should have had, when an arm was up in an unnatural position, that wasn't given. And it might just have been a balancing out."
Notts County manager Kevin Nolan told BBC Radio Nottingham:
"It was a massive mistake. The lad who jumped up was laughing.
"It was a fantastic performance. I thought we handled the conditions really well.
"We were fantastic to a man and would have merited the win. If we had been asked before about going back to Meadow Lane with a point, we would have taken it.
"But I can't hide the disappointment I feel sick because 1-0 would have been a fantastic result and it is taken away by the referee."
- 15HyamBooked at 75mins
- 3StokesBooked at 26mins
- 8DoyleBooked at 28mins
- 26ShipleySubstituted forPonticelliat 72'minutes
- 9BiamouSubstituted forClarke-Harrisat 83'minutes
- 5DuffyBooked at 86mins
- 18NobleSubstituted forO'Connorat 77'minutesBooked at 89mins
- 6Virtue-ThickSubstituted forAlessandraat 58'minutes
- 10GrantBooked at 74mins
- 14ForteSubstituted forSmithat 90+6'minutes
- Gavin Ward
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Coventry City 1, Notts County 1.
Substitution, Notts County. Alan Smith replaces Jonathan Forte because of an injury.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Jonathan Forte (Notts County) because of an injury.
Attempt missed. Jonson Clarke-Harris (Coventry City) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box misses to the right.
Marc McNulty (Coventry City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Matt Tootle (Notts County).
Foul by Jonson Clarke-Harris (Coventry City).
Richard Duffy (Notts County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Tom Davies (Coventry City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right following a set piece situation.
Attempt blocked. Tom Davies (Coventry City) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Michael Doyle.
Michael O'Connor (Notts County) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Jonson Clarke-Harris (Coventry City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Michael O'Connor (Notts County).
Goal! Coventry City 1, Notts County 1. Marc McNulty (Coventry City) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner.
Richard Duffy (Notts County) is shown the yellow card.
Penalty Coventry City. Tom Bayliss draws a foul in the penalty area.
Penalty conceded by Matt Tootle (Notts County) after a foul in the penalty area.
Michael Doyle (Coventry City) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Jonathan Forte (Notts County).
Michael Doyle (Coventry City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Elliott Hewitt (Notts County).
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Substitution, Coventry City. Jonson Clarke-Harris replaces Maxime Biamou.
Delay in match Jon Stead (Notts County) because of an injury.
Attempt missed. Jonathan Forte (Notts County) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.
Attempt blocked. Liam Kelly (Coventry City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Maxime Biamou.
Substitution, Notts County. Michael O'Connor replaces Liam Noble.
Dominic Hyam (Coventry City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Dominic Hyam (Coventry City).
Jonathan Forte (Notts County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Corner, Coventry City. Conceded by Daniel Jones.
Attempt blocked. Marc McNulty (Coventry City) header from the right side of the six yard box is blocked. Assisted by Liam Kelly with a cross.
Jorge Grant (Notts County) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Jack Grimmer (Coventry City) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Jorge Grant (Notts County).
Foul by Marc McNulty (Coventry City).
Shaun Brisley (Notts County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Coventry City. Jordan Ponticelli replaces Jordan Shipley.