TONY Mowbray has said his young Sky Blues side will come back fighting next season after a 2015/16 campaign that promised so much yet delivered so little ended with a convincing 3-1 victory over Sheffield United.
Early goals by Marc-Antoine Fortune and Andy Rose put the home side in control of the match at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday.
Billy Sharp bagged his 21st goal from the penalty spot with 30 minutes remaining to set up an exciting finale but substitute Ruben Lameiras scored a third and final goal three minutes from time to make it three consecutive home wins an end Sheffield United’s hopes of making the League One play-offs.
“It was a fitting end with the season we have had at home,” said Mowbray.
“We were the longest unbeaten team at home in any football league team, then we the run we had.
“With total respect to teams like Rochdale and Fleetwood, had we won those home games, which we should have, it would have been an exciting last month.
“In my opinion we are one of the best six teams in the league, but the last 45 games suggest we are not, which is frustrating, but we will be looking to bounce back.
“I feel the young attacking forward line we preserved with found the going really tough in the second half of the season.
“They are young boys of 18 and 19 and have never played so much football. We will try and address that in the summer. As we look to maintain the standards we hope to set at the start of next season.”
With just four minutes played Mowbray’s side took the lead when Adam Armstrong’s shot from the edge of the area took a big deflection off Fortune and wrong-footed George Long in the Sheffield United goal.
The lead was doubled just four minutes later thanks to Andy Rose who got on the end of a neat through ball by George Thomas and his first time shot flew into the top corner of the net.
United always looked dangerous going forward but they could find no way past an inspired Reice Charles-Cook who produced another superb performance in the Sky Blues goal.
Charles-Cook first did well to keep out a Che Adams volley and he did superbly well to keep out Ryan Flynn shortly before the break.
The Blades got themselves back into the match on 58 minutes when Jack Stephens tripped Sharp and the experienced striker made no mistake with the resultant spot kick.
Joe Cole hit a shot narrowly wide of the target on what could be his last match at the Ricoh but it was backs to the wall for the hosts as the Blades pressed in search of an equaliser.
But it did not come and Lameiras made sure the Sky Blues ended their home campaign with a win by beating Long with a low shot into the bottom right-hand corner from the edge of the area.
Mowbray added: “It was good to get the result after the disappointment of the Doncaster game, I told them to go and relax and enjoy their football, and to play with a smile on their face, and show some enthusiasm for the game.
“They lads started brightly and got the goals. But Sheffield applied good pressure in the game. They are a big club and have some good players, but it was good to score some goals, which has been a problem.”