Smith returns as Interim Head Coach
Posted: Monday, June 21st 2021
Tuesday, February 4th 2014
City were made to pay for a below par first period as visitors Coventry City survived a second-half onslaught to escape Ashton Gate three points better off.
Sky Blues boss Steven Pressley should extend his gratitude to the Robins’ groundstaff for getting the game on in the face of monsoon conditions.
It would take only seven minutes for Pressley’s men to adapt to the wet pitch as Franck Moussa’s individual goal gave them an early lead.
Then defender Andrew Webster added a second on 25 minutes, leaving City with a mountain to climb.
The hosts profited from a corner of their own ten minutes from time, with Wes Burns claiming his first senior goal with a deflected header in the middle of sustained pressure.
But there was to be no late drama as City were unable to carve out one final opening in a bid to snatch a point.
Steve Cotterill made three changes to his side victorious for the first time in 2014 against Carlisle United – all in midfield.
The weekend trio of Wade Elliott, Marlon Pack and Bobby Reid all dropped to the bench, as Marvin Elliott, Simon Gillett and Joe Bryan entered the fray.
But rather than the focus being on the players, it was all on the pitch at kick-off, with a sodden playing surface looking increasingly precarious.
However, the conditions were not affecting the roll of the ball in the early stages, as illustrated by Moussa’s superb individual effort to put the visitors in front inside seven minutes.
Picking the ball up just inside the City half on the left touchline, the Belgian accelerated away from Adam El-Abd and ran at the backpedalling Aden Flint before finding space to dispatch a low left-footed shot which crept underneath Simon Moore in the home goal.
It was a painfully familiar tale for Cotterill’s side, who have now fallen behind in each of their last eight matches.
There was a quick enough response, in the form of a well-struck Elliott shot which veered away from the far corner, but not a prolonged one.
Instead Coventry were acclimatising to the monsoon, with Adam Barton forcing a decent tip over from Moore with a rising shot from distance, albeit at the expense of a costly corner.
From Carl Baker’s resulting delivery, debutant Nathan Delfouneso connected with a glancing header at the near post and former City loanee Webster converted from close range at the far.
Again the Robins threatened an immediate riposte, with Greg Cunningham exchanging passes with Sam Baldock and surging into the box, but his shot under pressure from retreating defenders was not the cleanest and keeper Joe Murphy was able to deal with it.
Then Jay Emmanuel-Thomas found Scott Wagstaff in a crossing position, whose cutback picked out the sliding Elliott but the Jamaican could not find the target.
City had hardly produced their best first-half performance of the season, but could count themselves remarkably unlucky not to halve the deficit two minutes before the interval.
A trademark Baldock run in behind the defence to elude the offside trap saw him latch on to a long ball and run wide of Murphy, whose kamikaze surge to the touchline left his goal unguarded.
From an almost impossible angle on the right wing, the skipper looked to have produced a brilliant finish, only for the ball to roll agonisingly against the far post and back into play despite Emmanuel-Thomas sliding in with the intention of ensuring the net would bulge one way or another.
For the third match running, Cotterill opted to shuffle his pack at the break, sacrificing Bryan for Pack in the middle of the park.
City were in need of a slice of luck, and looked like getting it when Wagstaff’s cross-cum-shot was dipping just underneath the crossbar until Murphy acrobatically helped it on its way.
When the resulting corner was taken short, an opening presented itself for Cunningham to lash a shot into the sidenetting.
There were encouraging signs of intent from the hosts, who were desperate for a decision from referee Andy Woolmer when Baker slid in to dispossess Cunningham inside the box. The verdict was that the Coventry captain played the ball.
A familiar double change arrived just after the hour, as Cotterill threw on Burns and Tyrone Barnett – the same duo who had the desired impact against MK Dons 17 days ago – and switched to 4-4-2.
Teenager Burns duly outstripped left-back Blair Adams to reach the byeline and find a devilish cross which just eluded Baldock and Barnett in the danger zone.
He repeated the trick soon after, this time picking out Barnett who took a touch but saw his shot blocked by lunging defender Dan Seaborne.
It had been a marked second-half improvement, but City were running out of time to set up a grandstand finish.
But the lifeline finally arrived ten minutes from time, as Emmanuel-Thomas’ corner was headed goalwards by Burns and deflected into the net.
It was no more than City deserved for their second-half efforts, but there was to be no final twist as Coventry hung on for their away win.
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