A strong first half performance turned to disappointment as City lose against the SkyBet League One leaders thanks to two headed goals...Coventry City exited the Johnstone's Paint Trophy as they lost 2-0 to Bristol City at Ashton Gate. Headers from Derrick Williams and Aaron Wilbraham meant that City couldn't equal their performance from two seasons ago and reach the Area Final.
Manager Steven Pressley made four changes to the side that drew 0-0 against Walsall 11 days previously. Adam Barton, Josh McQuoid, Jordan Willis and Danny Swanson all came into the starting XI, replacing Jack Finch, Aaron Martin, Frank Nouble and Ryan Haynes respectively.
City started brightly and won their first corner after a minute. They continued to press in the opening stages, Swanson receiving several touches of the ball on the right hand side of the field.
In the seventh minute City had their first sight of goal. Reda Johnson stormed down the left on the overlap and cut the ball back. Gary Madine struck from the edge of the area, but Frank Fielding got down low to save well.
It was a confident start from the Sky Blues and in the 12th minute a swinging free-kick from Jim O'Brien bounced awkwardly in front of Fielding, but he read the situation and gathered the ball.
A minute later saw McQuoid fire from 20 yards straight at the keeper, but it emphasised the attacking start by City, that had the hosts on the back foot.
The game developed into a more cagey affair after that bright start, with some thunderous tackles being put in by City, particularly Adam Barton who was positioned in the centre of midfield.
Midway through the half and the Sky Blues nearly went ahead in fortuitous circumstances. John Fleck did brilliantly to nutmeg a Reds player and dart towards goal. His shot from 25 yards deflected off Madine and wrong footed Fielding, but the ball flashed just past the post.
Johnson picked up a booking in the 29th minute as he slid in late on the left of the City box, giving the Robins a chance to go one goal up from a set piece. They did just that.
A well worked set-piece saw Derrick Williams force the ball over the line as he made a run from deep. It was incredibly harsh on City who had been by far the better team.
The Sky Blues continued to play the same as they did before the goal, playing a good passing game and getting forward. They had strong claims for a penalty in the 33rd minute when McQuoid went down under a heavy challenge, but referee Stephen Martin was unmoved.
Aaron Wilbraham had a great chance to make it 2-0 just a minute later, but he could not get anything off a fast low ball from Joe Bryan.
With five minutes remaining in the half Swanson put a fantastic cross in following a blocked free kick from Madine, but Johnson headed into the side netting.
It was the last action of an entertaining first half, one that City will feel they have edged and will have every confidence they can equalise when attacking the away end in the second period.
After the break City continued to pass the ball around, and had a chance just three minutes in. Swanson received the ball on the edge of the area and tried to curl one into the far corner, but his shot went wide.
It was a good start but City were soon pushed back into their half as the Robins used their physical presence to get a foothold in the game.
It was becoming a tight, scrappy affair but City were well in the game, backed by a vocal away support.
A trio of corners gave the Sky Blues a chance, but they came to nothing, Adam Barton going the closest with a free header directed over the bar.
With 19 minutes remaining Frank Nouble replaced McQuoid as City pushed for an equaliser that would take the game to penalties.
The danger was always that the Sky Blues could get caught on the break and it unfortunately occurred with 13 minutes remaining.
Great play from Freeman opened up a crossing opportunity. He delivered a great ball in and Wilbraham was there to head home his 13th goal of the season.
The travelling Sky Blue Army fans never stopped singing although City now had a massive mountain to climb.
The Robins set up shop defensively and the Sky Blues struggled to break through, as time slipped away.
It was not to be and City went out, a disappointment after a good first half performance. Matters now turn to SkyBet League One on Saturday, when the Sky Blues travel to Vale Park to take on Port Vale.
Attendance: 5,019 (832 Away)
CoventryCity: Allsop, Willis, Webster, Johnson, Fleck, Madine, McQuoid (Nouble 71'), Swanson (Haynes 66'), O'Brien © (Maddison 81'), Barton, Pennington
Subs: Burge (GK), Finch
BristolCity: Fielding, Little, Williams, Flint, K. Smith, Elliot ©, M. Smith (Agard 66'), Freeman (Pack 90'), Wilbraham (Emmanuel-Thomas 90'), Ayling, Bryan
Subs: Richards (GK), Osborne