A SUPERB fightback ensured the Sky Blues had their name in the second round of the League Cup draw at the expense of Portsmouth as manager Tony Mowbray heaped praise on his young side for demonstrating their fighting instincts.
Mowbray’s side looked heading towards a fourth consecutive early exit from the competition after trailing Portsmouth 1-0 at half-time, with Curtis Main firing the visitors in front from the penalty spot.
But the home side showed plenty of character and grit to get themselves back into the match. Goals from Ryan Haynes and a first City goal for home debutant Vladimir Gadzhev turned the game on its head with eight minutes of normal time remaining.
Kai Naismith did fire home a superb equaliser to take the match to extra-time but it was the Sky Blues who dug deep to find the winner when Andy Rose fired home a rebound to put Mowbray’s side through to the second round of the competition for the first time since 2012.
“I think we grew in to the game, it is a young side that needs to strike a balance between playing football and showing some passion, urgency and drive.
“You can’t win football matches by just playing nice football. Nobody gives you anything in football, you have to go and earn it.
“Ultimately we deserved it, we got stronger and stronger as the game progressed. Happy enough with it, perhaps could have killed it off earlier.
“We dug it out in the end and I was really pleased that we were physically stronger in the closing stages.”
There were standout peformance from Ben Stevenson and goalscorer Haynes, who also picked up an assist, and Mowbray is keen to see more from the Academy duo.
He added: “I thought Ben Stevenson was good. He grew in to the game and showed his quality.
“We might still need another one in there. He’s a good player, he’s got talent and he’s here trying to stamp his own mark on our football club.
“Ben has got to be brave, but on Tuesday he played with an assurance and composure about his game. A lot of promise.
“Ryan scored, he created the third, but he needs to give a bit more personality and aggression to his game. I thought he was good and there will be real competition for that position now with Lewis Page.”