Sky Blues Under 21's open season with home defeat to Sheffield United
Coventry City Under-21’s lost their opening game of the season with Sheffield United running out 3-1 winners at the Alan Higgs Centre.
The Sky Blues’ Elite Development side, managed by Lee Carsley, started brightly but the Blades capitalised on defensive errors as they ran out comfortable winners.
Despite the defeat, there were many positives for the side with Cyrus Christie and Nathan Cameron both starting the game on their return from injury.
Watched by Andy Thorn and Richard Shaw, City started brightly with Roy O’Donovan and Shaun Jeffers looking particularly dangerous.
It was Louis Garner who had City’s first effort when he fired in a fierce shot from 25 yards but Sheffield keeper George Long did well to save.
O’Donovan was one of many players hoping to get themselves into Andy Thorn’s reckoning and he almost handed the home side the lead when he headed narrowly wide from a Jeffers cross in the 12th minute.
The lively Jeffers caused the United defence plenty of problems and in the 24th minute, he won a penalty for the Sky Blues when he was tripped by the keeper in the area. Jeffers stepped up to take it himself, but put low shot wide of the keeper’s right-hand post.
The penalty miss only served to spur on the away side and they took the lead six minutes later when Erik Tonne fired in a free-kick from 25 yards past Shane Fagan.
City had the chance to pull themselves level before the break when O’Donovan collected a poor clearance by the United keeper and he squared for Jeffers, but the young striker could only find the post from five yards.
The second half got off to a bad start for City as they fell further behind when Fagan’s cleared straight to the feet of Danny Philliskirk who slotted home to double Sheffield’s lead in the 52nd minute.
Coventry tried in vain to get back into the game but conceded a penalty when Christie took down Philliskirk inside the area with 20 minutes to go; a penalty Philliskirk converted himself.
The City keeper Fagan did end his day on a high note though when he saved another Philliskirk penalty after Cameron fouled in the area and Jeffers scored a magnificent consolation for City in the last minute.
The 20-year old took on three United defenders before firing a left-footed effort into the top corner from 25 yards.
Carsley thought it was a valuable exercise for the young side. He said: “It was a good game for the lads and Sheffield United brought a strong team so it was a good experience.
“They are playing at a higher standard now and that can only improve their game. We have got a lot of positives out of today’s game with players coming back from injury.
“If some of the players keep continuing like they are, then there is no reason why they can’t start to challenge the first team.”
Coventry City starting XI: Fagan, Willis, Cameron, Edjenguele, Christie, Henderson, Wiseman, Roberts, Garner, Jeffers, O'Donovan.