JOE Cairns scored for a fourth-successive match to send Coventry United on their way to a 3-1 away triumph over South Normanton Athletic.
The forward curled home a 32nd-minute opener in sublime fashion to settle the visitors down after an open start to proceedings at Lees Lane, prior to goals from Tyler Haddow and Chris Camwell which put United in control.
While South Normanton’s Martin Smyth did pull a goal back for the hosts with 15 minutes remaining, the Red and Greens were already well on their way to an 18th Midland Premier win of the season.
Both sides enjoyed a number of half chances at the beginning of the first half, with Jake Holt going closest on the half-hour mark with a strike that clattered the post.
But with the next attempt that fell their way, the visitors went in front. It was courtesy of a clever finish from the well-placed Cairns, who planted the ball into the top corner after some pinball inside Athletic’s penalty area.
Haddow then doubled the visitors’ advantage on the stroke of half-time, prodding home after a free-kick was fumbled by the goalkeeper.
A third from Camwell was provided two minutes after the restart when the forward met Riley O’Sullivan’s centre.
The provider nearly turned scorer with a shot that ricocheted off the post as United bayed for more blood.
Smyth reduced the arrears towards the conclusion of the game, though it made little difference to the one-way traffic from Coventry on the hosts’ goal.
United remain four points clear of second-placed Sporting Khalsa – albeit having played two games more – before going to Coventry Copsewood in Tuesday’s MFL League Cup last 16 tie (7.45pm).
The visit of Stourport Swifts then follows on Saturday (3pm).
SUCCESS was also sweet for ten-man Coventry Sphinx, who replicated the success of their neighbours in a 3-1 win on the road at Haughmond.
The final whistle at Sundorne Road in Shrewsbury confirmed a memorable comeback win for John Woodward and Shaun Thomas’ troops, who had to do it the hard way after going a goal down to Steve Hole’s 15th-minute strike before losing Louis Guest to a straight red card.
A sublime finish from Ashanti Pryce restored parity for Coventry 11 minutes after the break, when the striker turned past his man, took a couple of touches out of his feet before flashing a left-footed strike into the bottom-right corner.
By the 69th minute, the comeback was complete when Colin Smith slipped the ball into the far corner of the net from the left of the penalty area to leave the hosts shell-shocked.
Callum Woodward then flicked home Joel Grandison’s centre minutes later to put the gloss on a ninth win this term.
Sphinx, who are up to 13th, host Boldmere St Michaels on Tuesday (7.45pm) prior to another Sphinx Drive fixture against Long Eaton United on Saturday (3pm).
A STALEMATE with Studley helped GNP Sports recover from their Leicester Road nightmare and take a valuable point on Saturday.
GNP suffered humiliation in their 7-1 drubbing by Division One leaders Leicester Road in their previous outing, so there was a sense of relief when Aaron Dickens provided a second-half leveller to cancel out Dave Edwards’ opener and snatch a point against the third-placed visitors.
Shamir Alam’s side, who are tenth, welcome Hinckley AFC on Wednesday (7.45pm) before their trip to Heath Hayes trip on Saturday in a 3pm kick-off.
COVENTRY Copsewood were defeated 2-0 by Uttoxeter Town on an emotional day for their opponents at Allard Way.
Staffordshire side Uttoxeter were playing their first fixture since the sudden death of their manager Dean Arnold, an occasion which both teams marked with a minute’s silence before kick-off.
The visitors took a 22nd-minute lead when a poor clearance gifted the ball back to Uttoxeter, who duly went in front when Kyle Esplin tapped in from close range.
A free-kick from Nick Brandish went close to levelling the scores when a shot crashed against the bar and out before the interval.
Uttoxeter’s second, arriving midway through the second half, from Alex Britt wrapped up the points for the visitors, leaving Copsewood in 15th.
A tough task awaits at Leicester Road on Saturday (3pm), following their midweek MFL League Cup exploits against Coventry United.
VISITORS Fairfield Villa swanned into the final of the Presidents Cup after downing Coventry Alvis 3-0 at Green Lane.
Jamie Burkacki’s Alvis were no match for their Division Two rivals despite having home advantage, and were put to the sword by strikes from Alfie Bloomer and Dominic Strevens to trail 2-0 at half-time.
A third from Ross Dempster killed off any resolve left in the tank with 15 minutes to play, bringing a run to the semi-finals to a disappointing end.
An away tie at Northfield Town poses the latest challenge to Alvis on Saturday (3pm).
A STUNNING 4-1 away win at title-chasing Inkberrow strengthened Coventry Plumbing’s own Division Three promotion ambitions.
Connoll Farrell – fresh from netting in the 5-2 rout of Upton Town days three days before – once again came up trumps to lead the scoring at Sands Road with a brace.
George Swain and substitute Oliver Manoochehri then completed the scoring to ensure the Plumbers passed their test with flying colours.
Ben Thomas issued the reply for the Eagles.
Sixth-placed Plumbing have played a number of games fewer than their top-five rivals, and have as many as 11 games in hand on fourth-placed Continental Star.
The semi-finals of the Birmingham Saturday Vase offer a pleasant distraction this weekend, when Kev Kingham’s men head to West Midlands (Regional) Division One outfit Tipton Town (3pm).
Saturday’s victors will then take on the winner of Solihull United versus Alcester Town in the all Division Two clash in the other semi-final.
COVENTRIANS slipped to a first home defeat this season at the hands of Leamington Hibernian.
Sam Watts opened the scoring for Hibs in Saturday’s 3-0 loss at the Colliery Sports Ground, before substitutes Lewis Barry and David Jones added further woe for the hosts.
With no midweek fixture, eighth-placed Coventrians will have to wait until Saturday’s visit of Continental Star to issue a response (3pm).