Match report: Coventry City 1 Doncaster Rovers 0

coventry vs doncaster - iain hume battles in
coventry vs doncaster - iain hume battles in

THE promotion race was snatched out of Rovers’ hands as they were punished for one of their poorest halves of the season by a Coventry side banishing thoughts of their off-field problems.

Wins from both Sheffield United and Brentford ensured both would leapfrog Rovers with victories in their respective games in hand.

And should that happen, Brian Flynn’s side would be left ruing a performance at the Ricoh Arena bereft of passion and energy.

Full back Cyrus Christie took advantage of a ponderous start from Rovers to claim the vital goal after just 13 minutes.

And despite an improved second half showing, sparked by substitute Dean Furman, Rovers were decidedly second best.

Asking someone without prior knowledge which of the two clubs had just gone through one of the most difficult weeks in its history, they’d no doubt have given the wrong answer.

Coventry produced a performance packed with determination.

In contrast, for the first half at least, Rovers were flat, ponderous and panicky.

Rovers were tactically out-done in the first 25 minutes and beaten in the passion stakes for much of the remainder.

Coventry boss Steven Pressley set his side out with five in midfield and Rovers - playing 4-4-2 - simply had no answer.

The hosts controlled possession, stroking the ball around with aplomb while a high-tempo pressing game in defence ensured Rovers were not afforded the same luxury.

Adam Barton was a giant in the middle of the park for Coventry while the energy of John Fleck was a constant threat.

In fairness, the second half response from Rovers was good, largely down to the introduction of Furman at the break whose combative play neutralised the control Coventry had previously enjoyed.

But Rovers’ meekness in the face of such a high quality of opposition provides little confidence with big games against three promotion rivals still to come. They were incredibly static as Coventry opened the scoring on 13 minutes.

Christie received a cross-field ball on the right and skinned James Husband before scuffing a left footer in at the near post with Woods late to react.

Coventry’s extra man in midfield allowed them near complete control and left Rovers chasing shadows.

Brian Flynn was forced to change things up midway through the half, going like for like with the hosts in a 4-5-1 which saw Iain Hume drop onto the wing and Husband move inside.

There were chances for Rovers with Husband seeing a shot from the corner of the box loop up and force Coventry’s Joe Murphy to tip over.

And David Cotterill produced an excellent drive from just outside the area which Murphy needed two stops to claim.

But Doncaster were otherwise on the back foot to a side who had time to do what they wished.

Flynn made the change his side was crying out for at the break, Furman replacing an out of sorts Husband.

Rovers produced more energy in the opening phases of the second half, instantly more combative thanks to Furman who was clearly instructed to harass the influential Barton.

Chris Brown headed a Cotterill free kick from the left just wide while the winger drilled an effort from the edge of the box which Murphy could only parry.

Rovers did manage to get the ball in the back of the net as Furman split the defence with a well-weighted pass and Coppinger finished first time, only to see the assistant flag for offside.

Christie almost added a second for himself and the hosts with a spectacular strike from the right flank which crashed back off the bar.

Furman regularly burst forward from midfield, lashing shots at Murphy.

Coventry packed the defence as the half wore on, forcing Rovers into speculative efforts from outside the area which failed to threaten Murphy.