5th Jul, 2022

Russell Slade praises a job well done in Swansea as his Sky Blues side edge closer to Wembley

Steve Carpenter 25th Jan, 2017 Updated: 25th Jan, 2017

FOOTBALL: THE SKY Blues are now just 90 minutes away from playing on the hallowed turf at Wembley Stadium after progressing through to the semi-final of the Checkatrade Trophy courtesy of a penalty shoot-out victory.

Russell Slade’s side held their nerve when it mattered most to win a dramatic shootout 4-2 following a 1-1 draw against Swansea Under-21s at the Liberty Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Oliver McBurnie scored the opening goal of the game from the penalty spot in the 70th minute but with just five minutes remaining the visitors scrambled home an equaliser to force penalties.

George Thomas, Gael Bigirimana and Kyel Reid all converted from the spot and after Reice Charles-Cook produced two penalty save, it was left to Ruben Lameiras to fire the Sky Blues into the final four to the joy of the travelling Sky Blue Army.

“Penalties aren’t enjoyable for me, but they took their penalties smartly,” said Slade. “And Cooky has made two great saves.

“It has been a while since we’ve been behind in a game and come back to win it.

“We’re into the last four and a game away from the big stadium. You can’t replicate a penalty in a big stadium, it was about doing their jobs and they did it well.”

Swansea had two penalty appeals turned down early on before Lameiras forced Gerhard Tremmel into a routine save with 17 minutes gone.

Andy Rose headed Reid’s cross on the roof of the net on 26 minutes and minutes later Tremmel produced a superb stop to keep out Callum Reilly’s 25-yard shot as the teams went in level at the break.

The hosts had a great chance to take the lead almost immediately after the re-start. McBurnie found himself one-on-one with Charles-Cook but the Swansea man could find no way past the City shotstopper.

George Byers fired wide on the half-hour mark when he should have done better but Swansea did find the breakthrough on 70 minutes. Haynes fouled McBurnie in the area and he dusted himself down to fire home the resultant spot kick down the middle.

Slade’s side pushed for an equaliser with Jordan Turnbull firing wasting a chance in front of goal after Jordan Willis’ initial effort had been blocked.

The equaliser came in the 85th minute when a dangerous cross from Thomas took a touch off a Swansea defender past the helpless Tremmel to force penalties.

And it was City who showed their skill from the penalty spot by dispatching all of the four spot kicks to book their place in the final four for the first time in the competition.

Slade continued: “We didn’t have too much firepower up top but we stayed in the game. In the end, we deservedly got the equaliser.

“We kept growing, kept pushing forward and it became a bit more of a cup tie in the second half. We forced them in to mistakes but weren’t progressive enough with the ball, weren’t productive on the turnover.

“I was actually disappointed that we didn’t capitalise on the pressure we put them under, in terms of working their goalkeeper.”

Attentions now turn back to the league this Saturday when the Sky Blues will be looking for a first win in 11 League One matches.

Slade’s side sit seven points away from safety and the new manager knows how important it is to get three much-needed points on the board.

He added: ““We’re 90 minutes away from a big occasion, but for now it is in a box and we need to concentrate on our league situation. Tuesday night helps, but we desperately need league points.

“We’ve got loads to come back in to the side, Stuart Beavon will hopefully train on Thursday, as well as Charles Vernam and Farrend Rawson.”

Sky Blues on the road to Wembley...

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