21st May, 2018

1 point for first Coventry City play-offs, 10k sold & best hat-trick since Huckerby's 20 years on

Les Reid 2nd May, 2018

COVENTRY City need a draw in their last game on Saturday versus relegation-threatened Morecambe to make the play-offs for the first time in their history – and more than 10,000 tickets are already sold.

A draw at home will be enough whatever is achieved on the day by eighth-placed Mansfield, the only team who can oust the sixth-placed Sky Blues from one of the four play-off berths.

A City win would make it still possible to leapfrog Notts County and/or Exeter City into fourth or fifth. Doing so would secure the perceived advantage of a second-leg home game in the play-off semi-finals, should those teams lose.

Only a defeat and a Mansfield win at home to mid-table Crawley, and seventh-placed Lincoln drawing or winning at home to Yeovil, would see the Sky Blues miss out.

For a long period last Saturday, it looked like final day nerves for fans could be avoided, but Mansfield came from behind late-on to secure a vital 3-2 victory at Yeovil.

Coventry won 1-6 away at Cheltenham with a scintillating attacking display fuelled by the youthful energy and midfield momentum of academy graduates Tom Bayliss and Jordan Shipley.

They both matched their achievements in last Tuesday’s 2-4 home defeat to Lincoln with a first-half goal apiece, once again with fine finishes from crosses after bursting into the box.

City looked more solid at the back with Tom Davies and Chris Stokes replacing Rod McDonald and Ryan Haynes.

Striker Max Boamou, in for Jordan Clarke-Harris, was also an effective replacement with his characteristic commitment and team play. He also scored a wonder goal with a second-half perfectly executed near-post overhead kick – to add to his City and League Two goal of the season contenders.

Then there was Marc Mcnulty, who took his league tally to 23 – two less than League Two’s top scorer – with his second hat-trick of the season.

And it was possibly the highest quality hat-trick since Darren Huckerby’s at Leeds United almost 20 years ago to the day.

The first was an impeccably placed header into the top-left corner served up by marauding right-back Jack Grimmer’s perfect cross.

“Sparky” McNulty’s second was a clever lob over the on-rushing keeper after a defensive mistake from Jordan Willis’s long ball.

His third was a dipping and curling shot from the left of the area after being put through by sub Kyel Reid.

Manager Mark Robins said after the game: “After the energy they expended against Lincoln it was absolutely magnificent.

“For me, they showed that desire to come back. Cheltenham are no mugs. They have taken points from Luton, Mansfield – some of the top teams – and we have demolished them. So I am less angry and a bit more happy today.

“They are one of the top goalscorers in the division so it was pleasing to be four up at half-time.

“It was a good day because we wanted the three points, we needed the three points and we leap-frogged Lincoln and we’re happy about that going into the game next week.

“The lads were all looking at their phones and the results coming in but that’s fine. It’s down to us now.

“If we go and get a point or three then we’re fine.

“Morecambe makes it more interesting because they need a point as well, so it will be an interesting game.”

Morecambe effectively need a point to avoid relegation and dropping out of League. They are a useful side on their day, and beat Coventry 2-0 earlier in the season.

The game is also a rescheduled Legends Day in honour of the great Cyrille Regis, when former players will be paraded on the pitch at half-time.

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