Coventry City 2-1 Port Vale
FOOTBALL: TWO moments of brilliance from man-of-the-match Kyel Reid and Kwame Thomas earned the Sky Blues their first win under returning manager Mark Robins, while also inflicting severe damage on Port Vale’s hopes of survival.
Reid struck a goal of the season contender and Thomas produced a cheeky back flick in the first half to earn the Sky Blues only their sixth win of the season on a bitterly cold Tuesday evening at the Ricoh Arena.
Robins spoke confidently of claiming a rare three points in his pre-match press conference at the start of the week and the early signs were positive for the hosts.
They looked full of confidence early on with Kyel Reid and George Thomas both looking a threat in possession during a lively opening 20 minute spell.
Gael Bigirimana almost justified being recalled to the starting line-up with four minutes on the clock when he unleashed a low shot from just outside the area but Deniz Mehmet in the Port Vale goal got down well to make a smart stop.
George Thomas flashed a powerful volley wide of goal while at the other end Port Vale were in desperate need of three points in their battle to beat the drop but they failed to trouble Lee Burge in the Sky Blues goal.
After a bright opening for the host, it turned into a rather dull encounter as the half progressed, but two moments of brilliance changed the game and gave the home side a 2-0 lead at the break.
Reid had been City’s player of the match so far and he unleashed a superb left-footed volley from 25-yards out which drifted beautifully into the top corner of the net to give his side a 37th minute lead.
Just three minutes later Kwame Thomas made it 2-0 with another goal of real quality. Stuart Beavon cut inside and saw his powerful, goalbound shot palmed away by Mehmet but Thomas was on-hand to back-heel the ball into the net.
The Sky Blues picked up where they left off after the break with Reid again looking dangerous on every attack.
He shot wide from 20-yards on 51 minutes before setting up Beavon with an excellent cross and the City striker was unlucky to see his acrobatic volley drop narrowly wide of goal.
Burge had very little to do all evening but when called upon shortly after the hour mark he produced an excellent full stretch save to keep it out Ryan Taylor’s volley which took a bounce and looked destined for the top corner.
The visitors were now enjoying their best spell of the game and Burge was tested again in the 64th minute after winger Olamide Shodipo had beaten two players before curling a shot at goal, but it was straight at the City keeper.
At the other end Reilly saw his powerful first-time shot saved at the second attempt before the 23-year-old curling in a dangerous low cross which came off K.Thomas and fell gratefully into Mehmet’s arms.
With 15 minutes remaining the visitors set up a nerve-racking finale when Taylor’s free kick was glanced past Burge and the vocal visiting crowd sensed a comeback was on.
But Burge was never really tested again and in fact Robins’ side could have put the game to bed in the final minutes of normal time.
But after finding himself clean through, George Thomas played the ball too far in front which allowed Mehmet to come off his line and smoother the ball at the young City striker’s feet.
In the final minute of added on time there were a few hearts in mouths when Taylor picked out Nathan Smith at the far post but the Port Vale man could not get the all-important touch needed and the City players celebrated a sixth win of the season at the final whistle.
Team: Burge, Haynes, Willis, Rawson, Clarke, Reid, Reilly, Bigirimana, G.Thomas, K.Thomas, Beavon
Subs not used – Charles-Cook, Stokes, Turnbull, Lameiras, Jones, Kelly-Evans, Stevenson