FOOTBALL: COVENTRY City’s Checkatrade Trophy title defence is over, despite the Sky Blues winning their final group stage fixture, against West Brom U21s, 2-1.
Though Mark Robins’ men managed to defeat West Brom Under 21s, Walsall’s late goal at Shrewsbury put pay to any hopes of the Sky Blues progressing as they finished third in the four-team strong group stage.
But at one point the Sky Blues’ lifespan in the 2017/18 tournament looked to be extended when goals from Ben Stevenson and Max Biamou with four minutes of each other handed City a two-goal lead.
But Oliver Burke’s strike on 72 minutes put pay to any hopes the Sky Blues had of progressing as they were dumped out of the cup they won in front of 43,000 fans last season to a crowd of less than 1,500 on Tuesday night.
Neither side managed to create an early impression on goal, though Liam O’Brien was forced to make the first save on ten minutes following Callum Morton’s shot.
The best chance of the half fell to the returning Kwame Thomas, whose strike from inside the box curled inches wide of the post.
Striker Stuart Beavon then had a goal disallowed for offside after Chris Stokes played him through.
Coventry eventually broke the deadlock on 58 minutes when Stevenson took full advantage of some strong build up play to curl his effort into the corner and hand City the advantage.
The lead was doubled just four minutes later when Max Biamou got his head on the end of a corner to score his first Sky Blues goal.
However, the Baggies did get one back on 72 minutes, and it was Oliver Burke who did well down the right and slotted it past O’Brien to make it 2-1.
The scoreline remained the same, and the Sky Blues’ exit from the competition was confirmed when the final whistle blew at Walsall’s game at Shrewsbury – which Walsall won 1-0.
City boss Mark Robins suggested ifs and buts cost the Sky Blues in their title defence.
He added: “We’ve gone out to two League One teams.
“We lost to Shrewsbury with the final kick of the game with a free-kick, which was a bitter pill to swallow at the time, but they’re flying high at the top of League One.
“The other was at Walsall where we was 2-1 up and conceded a late goal. We have ourselves to blame.
“But we can take a little heart from it overall because we’ve been a young team and we’ve managed to get some development into some players.”
Robins was pleased with the performance of his side on Tuesday night though, in particular some of the younger players that haven’t featured in the club’s regular first team often this season.
“We had a young team out today, handing debuts to Tom Bayliss and Jordon Thompson, so there are some good moments to take from the game,” he said.
“I was pleased for Ben Stevenson to get his goal and Max (Biamou) too.”