COVENTRY City boss Mark Robins uncharacteristically publicly expressed his anger with his team after Tuesday’s poor defensive display to promotion rivals Lincoln City resulted in a 2-4 home defeat.
It was a missed opportunity in front of a big 13,115 crowd to all but seal a play-off place, and the fragility in confidence and the defence does not bode well should City make the play-offs against physical and well-organised sides.
The Sky Blues do however have it in their gift to return to form and make the play-offs – being in the final play-off berth of seventh place, three points in front of chasing Mansfield.
Should Mansfield win their last two games, Coventry will need four points from Cheltenham away on Saturday and Morecambe at home on May 5, a Legends Day in honour of Cyrille Regis.
The Sky Blues twice bounced back quickly with first-half equalisers against Lincoln from young midfielders Tom Bayliss and Jordan Shipley breaking into the area to deliver impressive finishes.
But further defensive shortcomings let Lincoln in again to give them a half-time 2-3 lead – with Jack Grimmer, Rod McDonald and Ryan Haynes all making errors, both in the air or with second balls in the penalty area.
Coventry then failed to create many second-half chances as their opponents sat back, and let Lincoln in on the break.
Substitute Jordan Ponticelli missed a near open goal from six yards late on.
In worrying words, Robins expressed his anger increasingly during the post-match press conference.
He branded the failure to cope with Lincoln’s direct, physical approach and long high balls as a “disgrace”, adding if players can’t cope with that, they “shouldn’t be playing football”.
He said: “I am so dissapointed.
“I can accept the first goal because he has hit it out of the blue, but the other goals are poor and easily stoppable.
“When you look on the face of it we have scored two really good goals and they have scored goals where they have lumped it forward and we have not dealt with it well enough.
“Even then the second ball we do not win. It is the second phase that we need to deal with.
“You expect your defenders to defend and we haven’t had it. Our defenders have been really good this season but I keep saying the same thing every time.
“Whenever we get a chance to move forward we turn it down. You could write the script. They do not take advantage when it is there.
“If we are not willing to go and put our heads on things then we do not deserve to win a game.”
“We can still do this. We need four points. This game has just been annoying.
“They players have to be more aggressive. The supporters do not want to see this. I am really dissapointed and really angry.
“I think our players have got to show that they want this.
“This club has been starved of success. The amount of points we have now are the most we have ever achieved in a season.
“We have never been in a play-offs before and we need to change that. I want a response this weekend.”