CONTROVERSIAL decisions combined with poor finishing and a lack of urgency in a frustrating Coventry City scoreless draw with struggling Accrington.
Of several key decisions, pulling back play for a free kick after Callum O’Hare scored with guile and composure seemed the most baffling, the linesman flagging mysteriously on 74 minutes when he was clearly onside and a foul looked highly unlikely.
Impressive left wing-back Sam McCallum also appeared to be brought down for a penalty after fine interplay with Westbrooke on 34 minutes, and boss Mark Robins emphasised a handball penalty shout on 83 minutes.
Striker Max Biamou was also given a straight red card in the 67th minute for what appeared to be an elbow when jumping for the ball, however unlikely that it would have been deliberate.
Yet none of that could mask Coventry’s offensive shortcomings and inability to hit the heights of their best performances this season – while doing more than enough to win.
That was particularly true of striker Amadou Bakayoko. So direct and effective with his recent goalscoring exploits, he seemed to mysteriously lack self-belief today and on several occasions wanted too much time on the ball in and around the area.
That was the case when he was on the end of the best move of the game on 57 minutes.
Skipper Kelly had played O’Hare in on the right with a perfectly weighted pass and Biamou’s flicked lay-off to the big centre-forward ought to have produced more than Bakayoko rather tamely misfiring over the bar from just inside the area after delaying the shot.
His best chance came in added time when put through for a one-on-one but he hesitated before the Stanley keeper Evtimov effectively narrowed the angle.
He had shown some smart touches and good industry in the first half which predictably saw a characteristically physical and organised Accies side get men behind the ball and close space.
It meant the expected game of patience in which City’s swift attacking flair this season was stifled and they created just nine attempts on goal.
Stanley’s tactics could not fully explain though why the home side were too ponderous in the first half, with no-one quite willing to take responsibility and grab the game by the scruff of the neck.
It led to a slow and dull half with the exception of a five-minute spell just before the break when both teams could have scored.
On 37 minutes, Bakayoko was put in by Kelly in the box but it came out for Westbrooke who miscued his shot from the D.
Two minutes later, Accrington’s big centre-forward Bishop put a back-post header over the bar from a fine cross from the left after a handball shout against a teammate was waved away. A McFadzean volleyed backpass to keeper Marosi was then one of two scares between the pair today in an otherwise solid defensive-three performance.
A threatening McCallum cross into the six-year box saw no one anticipating with a run. It was a cross to rival a particularly impressive delivery early on from debutant right wing-back Tennai Watson – in for the suspended Dabo – which had also deserved more on the end of it.
On 41 minutes, there was a block from an O’Hare shot in the box after an intricate Westbrooke through-ball. Then Bakayoko placed a volley over the bar when he was on his own in the box, but was ruled offside.
Max Biamou came into the game more in the second-half before his sending-off. On 46 minutes his volley after neat chest control in the box went straight at the keeper,
He also weighted a nice pass for a dangerous McCallum cut-back but Bakayoko, who Robins said had been sick through the week, couldn’t capitalise on a half-chance at the near post.