COVENTRY City’s play-off ambitions now rely on fading hopes and a winning streak starting at Sunderland – after their failures in front of goal returned at home to Bristol Rovers.
It was a familiar tale as the City squandered chances in the goalless draw against lower opposition – several guilt-edged – having created 19 shots on goal to Rovers’ six.
Three points on Sunday had been very important after sixth-placed Doncaster won again the previous day. Coventry are now eight points outside the play-off positions with five games to play, the last being at Doncaster.
Once again, the frustration among the home support in the 12,664 crowd (2,187 away) was more keenly felt because Mark Robins’ young team attacked with much skill and passing fluency.
Notable performances came from left-back Brandon Mason and Jordy Hiwula in front of him, although the latter could not repeat his goalscoring exploits at Barnsley the previous week. He missed a good first half chance when he put a side-footed volley wide from inside the box after an excellent Luke Thomas cross.
Thomas too had not brought his shooting boots from the Barnsley game, missing several half chances after creating much with his pace and trickery.
The best chance came in the second half when defender Dominic Hyam somehow fired wide from six yards with the goalkeeper nowhere after he parried a Tom Davies header.
The team performed well in defence to keep a clean sheet, with Tom Davies giving a typically full-blooded display in injured Jordan Willis’s absence.
He helped keep former Sky Blues striker Jonson Clarke-Harris quiet, despite his impressive nine goals in nine games for Rovers since leaving Coventry in January.
There was further disappointment on the injury front with midfielder Tom Bayliss forced off with an ankle injury, only to be followed off the pitch later by his replacement David Meyler with a shoulder injury. Both face potentially weeks before full fitness.
Robins said: “I thought we did everything that we could do to win it, I thought we played really well and defended really well.”
“I thought we created brilliant chances and unfortunately we passed them up.
“There is a lot of good things in our play, but it is just that last bit and I keep saying it. It’s not just strikers, everybody can score goals and there is no rule to say that it is only the strikers that can score.
“We have had plenty of chances to win it and we didn’t take them, but there is a lot of good stuff and I have got to take those positives. When you get to this stage of the season you are trying everything that you can do to try and win the game.”
“They have come today and changed the formation, changed the personal, and they have managed to hang in and get a point.
“They have worked hard for that point, but we have worked hard to create a load of chances and we have done it, and some of the football on a really difficult pitch has an impact.
“At league one level that does have an impact on the strikers, they need to maybe look up and have an extra touch.
“We can say that we are disappointed but realistically we have done really well and created a lot of chances, but it is just that last little bit that we need to get right.
“Next season we need to improve in those areas which have cost us from being a top six team.
“We are so close because there is a lot of good stuff and a lot of that stuff is very difficult to do and it is very difficult for teams to stop when they are free flowing.
“It is what it is, we have created good chances and the keeper has made a few good saves, but we have missed a few where we should have buried them.”