18th Sep, 2018

REPORT: Wonder strike from academy graduate Thomas secures Checkatrade Trophy for determined City

Shaun Reynolds 2nd Apr, 2017 Updated: 2nd Apr, 2017

COVENTRY City were crowned Checkatrade Trophy champions in front of 43,000 screaming Sky Blue fans, 30 years after lifting the FA Cup.

It was Coventry City Academy graduate George Thomas who bagged the winning goal when hitting a half-volley low into Oxford’s net with 54 minutes gone.

Thomas received the ball on the edge of the Oxford area after fine play on the left and cross from Kyel Reid, and made no mistake in placing in half-volley effort into the bottom left hand corner, giving Oxford keeper Simon Eastwood no chance of saving.

It’s Coventry’s first success at the home of English football since John Sillett and George Curtis led the Sky Blues to FA Cup success 30 years ago when defeating Tottenham  Hotspur 3-2.

And it was a similarly tense finish 30 years on. Oxford pressed for an equalising goal seconds from time when several strikes from a corner were eventually gathered by keeper Lee Burge who played a standout game in goal.

The late chances came after substitute Liam Sercombe struck his shot low into Burge’s net with just 14 minutes of regular time left.

With just a goal between either side, Oxford used the momentum of their first goal to dominate the concluding 14 minutes of the game.

A scramble inside the penalty area following a corner looked to have the Sky Blues beaten. But keeper Lee Burge somehow prevented United from finding an equalising goal as Mark Robins’ men secured the Checkatrade Trophy by playing out the remaining seconds.

Earlier in the game, Gael Bigirimana put Coventry ahead after just ten minutes when he took advantage of a blocked Stuart Beavon shot to pick up the ball inside the 18-yard box.

And he made no mistake in finishing from close range.

The strike sent more than 43,000 Sky Blue fans into raptures – and handed Coventry the early advantage despite being underdogs for the final.

Bigirimana did strike an earlier volleyed effort wide as the Sky Blues applied pressure in Oxford’s half.

Oxford had a chance of their own in the 20th minute when Cheyenne Dunkley got onto the end of a free kick.

Dunkley’s header was glanced by Lundstram, who saw his effort blocked when goalbound by the City defence.

Kyel Reid and Gael Bigirimana then simultaneously tackled Oxford’s Rob Hall to the ground as United struggled to find a way through City’s back four.

A penalty appeal in the 30th minute was turned down when Lundstram went  down softly in the Coventry box.

Several errors in defence handed Oxford the chance of leveling the game. However their attacking unit failed to test Lee Burge who was forced into making few saves.

While Oxford fans cleared the stadium shortly after full time, the 43,000 strong Coventry crowd sung loud and proud after carrying their team to success.

Reaction to follow.

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