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Report: Coventry City 5-4 Bristol City

It was a game that had everything - but ultimately ended pointless for Sean O'Driscoll's men, who found themselves on the wrong end of a topsy-turvy nine-goal thriller in Northampton.

Coventry City, playing their first match at their alternative home, racked up a three-goal lead by half-time, but quickly fell to pieces as City came on strong in the second 45.

Leon Clarke’s penalty, Callum Wilson’s curling finish and Billy Daniels’ perfectly-placed header were cancelled out in the space of 19 second half minutes.

Sam Baldock scored twice, either side of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas’ deflected free kick, to restore parity. 

Immediately the Sky Blues raced up the other end to make it 4-3 through Wilson’s second, only for Marvin Elliott’s stunning strike to level things once more with five minutes left.

The away supporters, who outnumbered their hosts’ backing in numbers and volume, must have been dreaming of another ‘Mansfield 5-4’ but it wasn’t to be.

Instead, Daniels had the last word with a close range finish to wrap up the scoring in a truly remarkable encounter. 

Sean O’Driscoll made just one change to the line-up following the 2-0 midweek cup win in Gillingham, as Scott Wagstaff returned to the starting XI replacing the benched Jordan Wynter. 

The visitors could have opened the scoring just three minutes into the game. Liam Fontaine’s long ball forward allowed Baldock to race clear into the Sky Blues’ box, but just as the striker pulled the trigger Jordan Clarke made a crucial block. 

Coventry responded well. Frank Moussa teased his way beyond Brendan Moloney before picking out Conor Thomas darting into the box. His curling effort had the beating of Frank Fielding but Fontaine was on the line to clear the danger. 

City’s backline were caught napping again when Clarke’s clipped ball forward was latched on to by Wilson but with only Fielding to beat the striker showed a lack of composure firing into the keeper’s chest.

Coventry’s pressure finally told on 27 minutes when John Fleck’s long ball forward again allowed Wilson to charge into the City box. Flint tripped the forward inside the area, Leaving the referee with no choice but to point to the spot. 

Clarke kept his cool and fired the ball into the roof of the net for the opener. 

The home side continued to press and two goals in three minutes at the end of the half ensured Steven Pressley’s side had a healthy lead at the break. 

Another long ball forward by Fleck found Wilson, who this time found Flint backing off and he whipped the ball past Fielding into the far corner with aplomb.

City nearly hit back instantly but keeper Joe Murphy raced off his line to deny a clean through Baldock with his legs.

And the first-half rout continued when Moussa’s deep cross from the left found Daniels at the back post,  who expertly guided a header back across Fielding and into the net. 

O’Driscoll unsurprisingly made two changes at the interval with Derrick Williams and Ryan Taylor introduced. It saw a more attacking 3-5-2 formation adopted and to good effect. 

Emmanuel-Thomas teased Blair Adams on the right wing and fired a low cross towards the back post, which cannoned against the upright and Baldock was on hand to bundle home.

Emmanuel-Thomas went from creator to goalscorer on the hour, albeit with a little help from the home team. Baldock rolled a 25-yard free kick into his path and the sweet left-foot shot ricocheted off the wall to bounce past a helpless Murphy.

Now the travelling faithful had hope, and it looked to be realised on 74 minutes as a misplaced header from Andy Webster, the ex-City loan defender, was pounced on by Baldock. The skipper had already passed up one-on-one opportunities but made no mistake this time.

The mass ranks of away supporters were still celebrating as a pumped ball forward was allowed to bounce in the area by Fontaine for Wilson to stab past Fielding at the second attempt.

But City weren’t done. Now with Marlon Harewood on the pitch in place of the injured Taylor, they won a throw down the right. Emmanuel-Thomas launched it into the mixer and Elliott executed a sublime scissor kick to make it 4-4.

With three minutes to go it could have gone either way.

And it was the beleaguered home side who ended up with all three points.

A cross to the back post was volleyed back across goal by Clarke and Daniels made no mistake, hooking the ball inside Fielding’s left-hand post.

Baldock almost snatched a dramatic equaliser with the last kick but it wasn’t to be, bending wide of the upright.

You have to feel sorry for the Coventry supporters who boycotted the game. Not just for the turmoil affecting their club – they also missed a corker at Sixfields.