COVENTRY City set themselves up for a crunch promotion battle tomorrow night at home against in-form Portsmouth with a late winner against struggling Bolton on Saturday.
Wanderers posed a real threat at St Andrew’s after hardly getting a touch for the first 15 minutes, defying their position at the foot of League One after recent January acquisitions.
The opening period was all one-way traffic with Coventry moving the ball around with familiar skill and speed, after a pin-point third-minute cross from man-of-the-match Fankaty Dabo was converted with a well-placed Bakayoko downward header for his second goal in two games.
He continued to link well with O’Hare and Allen, all three retaining their starting positions from the mid-week FA Cup replay with Birmingham, and the returning Liam Walsh continued with his commanding tenacity alongside Liam Kelly.
Bakayoko appeared to add to his tally on 15 minutes with a back-post finish from a low Sam McCallum cross on the left after more fine interplay between O’Hare and Jamie Allen on the edge of the box. But it was ruled out for a marginal offside.
A sign of what was to come finally came out of nowhere on 20 minutes when Dennis Politic robbed the off-form returning Michael Rose and skipped past another defender before the advancing Marosi made a fine stop from close range. Two minutes later, Dominic Hyam made an important tackle in the box from another threatening Bolton attack.
The rest of the first half was much more even, with the best chance falling to O’Hare who ran into the box and showed good control from a Dabo cross before his shot was charged down by keeper Matthews.
The second half saw Hyam clear off the line on 49 minutes as Bolton continued to break well from midfield with strong runners, notably Politic and O’Grady.
Dabo, O’Hare and Allen got City into a second half in which Coventry predominantly attacked Bolton’s left flank.
On 55 minutes, the diminutive O’Hare showed bravery in fully committing to an aerial challenge when he could see burly central defender Tota Nsiala coming for him. The latter came off worse in what appeared to be a clash of heads and was subbed after a six-minute stoppage in which O’Hare’s large cut to the forehead was bandaged,
Then Allen on 65 minutes fired narrowly wide when Kelly was wrong footed at the far post when he could otherwise have slid in.
A Murphy header was brilliantly tipped over by Marosi before O’Hare, from inside City’s half, put Allen through on the break one-on-one on 68 minutes. But keeper Matthews narrowed the angle and made a good block.
Sub Max Biamou, on for the industrious Bakayoko who appeared to play with more confidence, placed a powerful header straight at the keeper at a nice height when he perhaps should have done better.
City were left to rue that missed chance a minute later when Politic’s volley in the box converted a low O’Grady cross from the left on 77 minutes.
City looked a little too intricate at times in the second half with their clever passing and movement on a day when they weren’t quite at their best. The attacking presence of Allen and O’Hare perhaps left them more vulnerable to the counter attack too in an open game.
Bolton continued to threaten and Biamou just missed one of his trademark overhead kicks in the box before on 90 minutes.
But, to much palpable relief, he blasted home from close range with time to pick his spot after a low Walsh cross from the right had been partly scrambled away before Allen had won an important header to prevent a clearance.
Coventry City manager Mark Robins said after the match: “The quality was lacking a little bit and one or two had off days. Thankfully we came off the back of the match with a great result which is brilliant and it is a massive three points.
“We didn’t kill them off. We had chance after chance and just didn’t do it. We had one disallowed in the first half and they grew in confidence from that.”