COVENTRY City have returned to playing much scintillating quality football but with no end result, thwarting ambitions for a renewed play-off push.
Mark Robins men go into Saturday’s fixture at lowly Plymouth having run bottom side Wimbledon ragged at the Ricoh, but with characteristic failures in front of goal resulting in a 1-1 draw and two points dropped.
It should have been a return to winning ways after a disappointing defeat at Scunthorpe had followed three impressive victories to put the play-off positions within sight once more, after an earlier run of no win in seven.
Young wide man Luke Thomas, having confirmed his loan extension from Derby until the end of the season, was in electrifying form with his pace and beating men at will and scored a 61st-minute equaliser.
Especially eye-catching was his link play with young midfield playmaker Tom Bayliss, who seems to have returned to form despite sometimes erratic performances.
Liam Kelly, again keeping club captain Michael Doyle out of the side, was also prominent in Coventry’s often excellent passing moves despite some errors, and hit the bar with the last kick of the game – a 20-yard piledriver.
The inconsistent Jordy Hiwula could not match his more impressive goalscoring displays and he missed a wonderful chance late on to win the game after Bayliss had broken into the box in acres of space, Hiwula frustratingly delaying then mis-timing his shot.
The game also featured a promising if nervy start for academy product Sam McCallum at left-back, and a debut for Wolves loanee striker Bright Enobakhare, who showed some power, close skills and touch playing in a wide position.
City had been undone in the second minute from a corner when defenders were slow to react in the box to Lee Burge’s one handed stop on the goal-line.
It was a sloppy combined effort which meant Robins’ men were chasing the game, with Wimbledon defending in numbers, albeit often unconvincingly.
Robins said: “It’s like a number of games that we’ve had this season, we actually played really well.
“The thing with today is that whilst it’s a disappointment that we haven’t won, it is a game we should have won.
“We’ve been chasing it from 90 seconds which isn’t ideal at any time, but we did that and we were brave, passing the ball.
“The pitch is in a really difficult state, so they can be congratulated for trying to pass it as well as they did do on that surface and it cost us at times, but we have to live with it and keep moving the ball as quickly as we can.
“I’m encouraging them to pass the ball and create chances like they have done.
“If we could shoot with conviction and have that confidence to shoot, then we win that game really handsomely and that is the disappointment.
“They have had a couple of chances during the game that we have given them, but then I’m asking them to play in areas that sometimes they’re making wrong decisions. Kelly, for instance, tries to beat his man in the middle of the pitch when he’s one against one, and we can’t do that.
“I can see that there are good signs, but it’s the finishing that’s the big thing for us.”