PLAY-OFF FINAL - Coventry City in play-off final heartbreak after penalty shoot-out defeat against Luton - The Coventry Observer

PLAY-OFF FINAL - Coventry City in play-off final heartbreak after penalty shoot-out defeat against Luton

Aaron Sutcliffe 27th May, 2023 Updated: 28th May, 2023   0

COVENTRY City suffered Championship play-off final heartbreak after the Sky Blues were denied a dream return to the Premier League following a penalty shoot-out defeat against Luton Town at Wembley.

The Sky Blues were forced to come from behind to take the game to penalties after Gustavo Hamer’s fine 66th minute strike cancelled out Jordan Clark’s emphatic 23rd minute opener.

Neither side could find a winner in extra time before Fankaty Dabo blazed over in the shoot-out, after 11 perfect penalties, as Coventry’s 22-year wait for a return to the top flight goes on.

Coventry were backed by more than 35,000 fans in the capital as the club missed out on the chance to secure at least £170 million had they achieved promotion.

The Sky Blues survived an early scare when a Luton corner from the left was bundled into the net only for assistant referee to rule the goal out for offside.

And Luton were then forced into an early change as key defender and captain Tom Lockyer collapsed on the pitch and was stretchered off after just 12 minutes.

The Hatters almost took the lead soon after when Carlton Morris hooked the ball inches past the post as he pounced on Kyle McFadzean’s poor header.

And Rob Edwards’s side went close again on 20 minutes when Morris’s shot was superbly deflected over the bar by Luke McNally.

However, Luton’s pressure eventually told on 23 minutes when Clark smashed an effort past Ben Wilson at his near post after great work from Elijah Adebayo down the left.

And the Hatters were denied a second by another crucial block from McNally before Adebayo turned the rebound wide from close range.

Luton had the ball in the net again on 40 minutes with the goal correctly ruled out after Callum Doyle’s attempted clearance went in off the arm of Adebayo.

That reprieve sparked the Sky Blues into life as Hamer’s first time effort at the back post went narrowly over the bar from Jake Bidwell’s cross.

However, Hamer’s shot proved to be Coventry’s only real chance of the first half as Mark Robins’ side went into the break a goal behind.

And Robins made a substitution during the interval as striker Matty Godden replaced midfielder Jamie Allen as City changed shape for the second period.

Coventry looked to up the tempo early in the second half as Hamer chased down a back pass and almost left Luton goalkeeper Ethan Horvath red-faced.

City were unlucky again moments later when Gyokeres chased down a loose ball in the Luton box only for a combination of Horvath and Gabriel Osho to loop the ball to safety.

However, the Sky Blues deservedly drew level on 66 minutes when Hamer placed a superb first time effort into the bottom right corner from the edge of the penalty area from Gyokeres’s perfectly-weighted pass.

Substitute Godden started the move with a superb ball down the left channel which was picked up by Gyokeres who in turn found Hamer who finished off a stunning counter attack with a stylish finish.

And City spurned a glorious chance to take the lead on 73 minutes when Gyokeres found Godden who was unable to keep his shot down from inside the box.

However, Coventry suffered a blow with 12 minutes left to play when goalscorer Hamer was forced off with an ankle injury and was replaced by Kasey Palmer.

Both teams searched for a decisive goal in eight frantic minutes of additional time with neither side able to score a winner which sent the game to extra time.

And City almost took the lead in the first minute of the extra period when Gyokeres latched onto Wilson’s long kick and fired a powerful first time shot towards goal which was parried by Horvath.

Hatters goalscorer Clark was then booked for simulation by referee Michael Oliver after he went to ground in the box under a challenge from Wilson.

Luton thought they had won the game with five minutes of extra time left to play when Joe Taylor pounced on a mistake by Jonathan Panzo and finished through the legs of Wilson.

However, VAR correctly intervened after replays showed the ball ricocheted onto Taylor’s hand before he found the net.

And the final two minutes of additional time elapsed without incident with Coventry’s promotion hopes to be determined by a penalty shoot-out.

The penalties were taken in front of the Luton fans as Morris calmly rolled in the first spot kick before Godden levelled with an equally cool penalty.

And Luton edged ahead again when Taylor found the bottom left corner, despite Wilson diving the right way, before Gyokeres hammered his spot kick home to draw the teams level.

The Hatters remained perfect when Nakamba found the bottom right corner as Ben Sheaf clinically placed his penalty into the top left corner.

Luton kept themselves ahead as Clark scored from the spot before Josh Eccles kept his cool to send Horvath the wrong way.

The Hatters scored their fifth penalty as Luke Berry blasted home only for Liam Kelly to send the shoot-out to sudden death with a cool spot kick into the bottom left corner.

Luton’s Dan Potts was first to score in sudden death before Dabo blazed over as Coventry’s promotion dream ended in the cruellest fashion with the last kick of the season.

The Hatters will embark on their first season as a Premier League club next term, having last played in the top flight in 1991/92, whilst the Sky Blues prepare for another campaign in the Championship.

Support community journalism by making a contribution.

The Coventry Observer's team of journalists provide a trusted source news, sport, entertainment and events going on in your area and issues which matter to you - both via our free weekly print edition and daily updates on our website.

Every contribution, however big or small, you can make will help us continue to do that now and in the future.

Thanks for reading this and the Coventry Observer.

Are you on Facebook?

Like or follow our Facebook page - to get daily news updates straight to your news feed.


Find a career you'll love with our free career finder website.

Online Editions

Catch up on your local news by reading our e-editions on the Coventry Observer.


Weddings, Birthdays, Bereavements, Thank you notices, Marriages and more.

Business Directory

From plumbers, to restaurants, we can provide you with all the info you need.