FOOTBALL: A SPIRITED fightback was dampened by an injury time winner as Coventry City’s defence of the Checkatrade Trophy opened up with a 3-2 loss to Shrewsbury.
A poor first half performance saw the Sky Blues trail Shrewsbury by two goals at the end of the opening 45 minutes.
But whatever was said at half time had a positive impact on Mark Robins’ men and their performance as two quick goals quickly brought Coventry back into contention.
Though Shrewsbury’s James Bolton was sent off shortly after the Sky Blues’ second goal, the visitors dug deep as substitute Joe Riley scored in injury time.
Earlier in the game, Coventry made a poor start with only a blocked effort from Jodi Jones coming close to the Sky Blues opening their account.
Despite the lack of chances, the visitors found themselves with a first-half lead in the 30th minute.
Jon Nolan’s cross from the right was flicked into the path of Stefan Payne.
The Barnsley loanee took one touch before powering it past Burge to give his side the advantage.
One soon became two as Shrewsbury doubled their advantage just minutes later.
Lee Burge produced a fine save to deny Arthur Gnahoua, but the winger pounced on the rebound to score at the second attempt.
Tony Andreu should’ve pegged a goal back for the Sky Blues towards the end of the first half when he stole the ball from the feet of Aristote Nsiala to setup a one-on-one with Shrewsbury’s keeper.
However hesitation from Andreu saw Nsiala peg back lost ground to make a superb last ditch challenge, denying any chance of a shot.
Peter Vincenti then had a chance to score the Sky Blues’ first goal. But his header from close range went narrowly past the post.
The Sky Blues started the second half the better of the two sides and were rewarded inside five minutes.
Jodi Jones led a counter attack, bursting forward to find Tony Andreu.
The midfielder took one touch before curling an effort into the top corner to score his first City goal and halve the deficit.
Moments later, the Sky Blues levelled the game when Marc McNulty was brought down inside the penalty area following a nice passage of play. McNulty made no error from the spot.
With momentum firmly on their side, the Sky Blues went in search of a winner and came within inches of the lead.
James Pearson rose highest from a corner but through a combination of Junior Brown and the crossbar, the defender was denied his first City goal.
Things soon got worse for the visitors as they were reduced to ten men.
Jones’ neat footwork drew the tackle from James Bolton, with the referee showing no hesitation in dismissing the Shrewsbury man.
Despite the extra man, the Sky Blues were cruelly defeated in injury time.
Joe Riley, on as a second half substitute, curled a free-kick into the top corner leaving Burge with no chance.
Coventry City XI: Burge (GK), Grimmer, Pearson, Hyam, Di. Kelly-Evans (Maycock 45’), Doyle (C) (Beavon 51’), Stevenson (Shipley 39’), Vincenti, Andreu, Jones, McNulty.
Shrewsbury Town XI: MacGillivray (GK), Godfrey, Beckles, Whalley (Riley 73’), Gnahoua (Adams 73’), Brown, Bolton, John-Lewis, Nolan, Nsiala (C), Payne.
Picture: Shaun Reynolds Photography.