26th Sep, 2020

Coventry City home tie versus Blues at Birmingham City beyond a Roy of the Rovers script

Les Reid 27th Jan, 2020 Updated: 27th Jan, 2020

LEAGUE One Coventry City came close to beating their Championship landlord opponents in a bizarre FA Cup tie that failed to equally fire the imagination on the pitch.

The 0-0 draw could have had a perhaps deserved Coventry City winner had the otherwise habitual supersub loanee from Aston Vilia, Callum O’Hare, not miscued in additional time four yards from an empty net, after a superb Bakayoko knockdown.

The missed glaring open goal was the only real, yet unfortunate, memorable footballing moment on an otherwise memorable occasion.

But never mind that ending no-one would have scripted. It was from the start an event beyond even a Roy of the Rovers comic strip.

With the big-game atmosphere building before kick-off, Blues’ groundsmen forked the glorious St Andrew’s pitch for a Coventry City home game – while Sky Blues’ classics such as Go For It City and Mr Blue Sky blasted over the tannoy.

Coventry fans adorned Birmingham City’s historic kop The Tilton End and Blues fans stood in the away end.

With more than 21,000 attending, it felt like Coventry were back in the big time.

Unfortunately, the match itself was reminiscent of so many Championship games at the Ricoh Arena, with physical and well organised teams tactically cancelling out their opponents and denying space to play.

Both sides created few chances and Coventry failed in the main to serve up their wonderful quick passing football which has become the hallmark of their exciting season, denied space by a muscular and athletic Birmingham side.

Those characteristics saw the Championship team have the better of the first 20 minutes, when former Sky Blue striker Judkievicz bundled the ball into the net but had fouled keeper Marosi, who also pulled off a low one-handed save from him.

Birmingham City looked especially threatening down the left with tricky Montero and 16-year-old wonderkid Bellingham.

Coventry enjoyed more possession in the second part of an even first half, with Shipley cutting into the box for a half chance, and Liam Walsh looking particularly tenacious in midfield.

Coventry had Michael Rose to thank for a goal-line clearance in a second half period of play dominated by the Championship side until   65 minutes when a double substitution turned the match’s complexion.

Mark Robins’ men finally found their fluency by  switching to two up front with Max Biamou supporting Godden, and O’Hare making his forward runs and incisive passes.

One of those passes served up the game’s second best chance when Biamou’s curling effort inside the box was well saved – with the Coventry fans generating a memorable classic cup-tie atmosphere in the final stages.

The game showed Coventry City are capable of competing at the next level, though there was concern that a replay could add to fixture congestion in the crucial League One promotion push.

Robins said after the game: “We’re slightly disappointed not to have got the winner.

“I’m certainly proud of them. We grew in confidence in the game. We started off by testing the temperature of the water a little bit, which is understandable.

“They’re a good side, a team from a higher division. It’s a strange set of circumstances as everybody has alluded to this week.

“We acquitted ourselves really well and can be really disappointed that we didn’t progress through with the chance we had at the end which was gilt-edged.”

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