Doomed Coventry City pulled off a shock 1-0 victory at home to play off dark horses Bristol Rovers at the Ricoh Arena. Rovers were backed by 4,000 fans yet couldn’t get the better of the club at the foot of the table.
Coventry City Starting XI:
(4-4-2) Burge – Willis (C), Clarke, Rawson, Haynes – G Thomas, Reilly, Bigirimana, Reid – Beavon, Jones
Coventry City Substitutes:
Charles-Cook, Turnbull, Kelly-Evans, Stokes, Stevenson, Lameiras, Vernam
Bristol Rovers Starting XI:
(4-3-3) Lumley – J. Clarke, Lockyer, Burn, Brown – O. Clarke, Lines, Sinclair – Bodin, James, Gaffney
Bristol Rovers Substitutes:
Mildenhall, Leadbitter, Mansell, Harris, Easter, Montano, Moore
It was a very back and forth 90 minutes with both sides attacking for the duration but it was Rovers who had the first serious attempt on goal, with Billy Bodin’s shot being blocked wide. Coventry hit back immediately however with Jodi Jones’ free kick forcing an outstretched save from Lumley. Then again ten minutes later the Sky Blues switched it from one full back to another, Ryan Haynes played it across to the back post where Jordan Willis was waiting. His header comfortably saved.
On the half hour mark the gers had a free kick of their own when Lee Brown shot straight into the wall from 20 yards, with the follow up equally blocked and cleared away. Tom Lockyer got the first booking of the match after a tactical foul stopped Jones from crossing into the box with the potential for Stuart Beavon to finish. The striker however was left waiting, the resulting free kick gave him a chance to take the lead but once again City couldn’t get past Lumley.
Half Time – Coventry City 0-0 Bristol Rovers
Rovers weren’t playing to their usual standards so something had to be changed, which was done when Leadbitter and Moore replaced James Clarke and Gaffney respectively at the break. This seemed to do the trick as they had Coventry on the ropes for the first section of the second half. Luke James and substitute Byron Moore both had chances to put the away side ahead.
City made their first change when Dion Kelly-Evans replaced the captain Willis after he looked to have picked up a knock on the hour mark. Meanwhile the final Gers substitution was made with 25 minutes remaining when Harris replaced Jonny Burn. Moore had another chance when the Coventry defence was caught napping, he broke through the middle but shot wide of the mark.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, Coventry started taking control of the game and nearly took the lead via Jones’ volley was skied over the bar from Reid’s cross. The 19 year old winger seemed to injure his knee in the process and was taken off for Ruben Lameiras to come on. The Sky Blue pressing carried on and with 10 minutes remaining the deadlock was broken when George Thomas struck a beautiful half volley after Beavon’s through ball when it crept in at the far post.
The final Coventry change of the match saw them tighten up in defence with Stokes coming on for winger Reid, which meant they kept a clean sheet, but invited in pressure for the remainder. Lee Burge was put to the test and made an acrobatic save deep into injury time tipping over the bar. Other than that the Sky Blues held on in a very impressive victory however they’ll need a miracle to be playing third tier football next year, but at least they have Wembley to deal with.