THE SKY Blues took one step closer to League One safety after Jim O’Brien’s goal was enough to see Tony Mowbray’s side secure a narrow 1-0 victory over Colchester United.
Skipper O’Brien led by example and his neat finish in the first half proved to be the match winner as the Sky Blues moved three points away from the relegation zone with four games remaining.
It proved to be a rather dull opening ten minutes with both sides measuring each other out before the first notable chance fell to O’Brien whose header was comfortable for Sam Walker in the Colchester goal.
While at the other end Gavin Massey tested Lee Burge with a low effort from just outside the area.
Adam Barton was enjoying lots of the ball in midfield and on 17 minutes he hit a long range shot wide of goal before Nick Prochwitz almost got on the end of delightful chip over the defence by John Fleck, but Walker was quick off his line to deny the tall striker.
By now the hosts were well on top and the visitors seemed happy to sit back and soak up the pressure which allowed the Sky Blues to continue creating chances in search of an opener.
Frank Nouble hit a shot on the turn on 34 minutes which was palmed away by Walker but the opener eventually came two minutes later.
Full back Anthony Stokes had the vision and skill to pick out O’Brien with a clever pull back and the City midfielder did the rest by beating Walker with a low finish which nestled into the bottom corner.
It could have been 2-0 to the hosts when goalscorer O’Brien showed plenty of determination to break free down the right and deliver a cross into the box but Proschwitz failed to direct his header on target.
Colchester must have received some harsh words from manager Tony Humes at the break because they came out after the re-start rejuvenated and twice came close to scoring an equaliser.
First on 47 minutes George Moncur ran unchallenged into the area and unleashed a powerful shot which Lee Burge managed to palm away.
And then moments later the young goalkeeper did well to deny Gavin Massey by getting a hand to the winger’s low shot.
The threat of conceding sparked the hosts back into life and they perhaps should have doubled their advantage on 52 minutes.
Barton put Proschwitz clean through on goal with a neat flick and although the tall striker was able to take the ball around the oncoming Walker, he somehow missed an open goal and struck the post.
Another glorious chance fell to fellow striker Nouble after Stokes again got to the byline and pulled the ball back just as he did to set up for the opener but this time Nouble sent the ball into the stands.
Substitute Maddison showed glimpses of his potential when he was introduced for Proschwitz.
And the 18-year-old almost bagged his second senior goal when he wrong-footed his marker before unleashing a powerful shot at goal on his weaker left foot which came back off the crossbar.
The visitors ventured forward in search of a late equaliser but in truth they failed to test Burge and Mowbray’s side held out for their
Player ratings: Burge 7, Stokes 7, Willis 6, Johnson 8, Pennington 7, O’Brien 8 (Odelusi 77), Barton 7 (Phillips 72), Ward 6, Fleck 7, Nouble 6, Proschwitz 6 (Maddison 67)
Subs not used – Charles-Cook, Martin, C.Thomas, Jackson