Aaron Martin gave a mature performance at the heart of the Sky Blue defence but was forced to concede narrow defeat to local rivals Birmingham City...
Heartbreak at the Wast Hills Training Ground as Coventry City’s U21s squad concede in the 88th minute to give the home side a 2-1 victory.
On target for the Blues were Viv Solomon-Otabor and Alex Jones, as Jack Finch notched for City from the bench.
The Sky Blues travelled with a strong starting XI, as Bassala Sambou began upfront and Lee Glover welcomed first teamers, Aaron Martin (C) and Gael Bigirimana to the side.
George Thomas dropped in to the no.10 role, with Kyle Spence and Devon Kelly-Evans operating in the wider advanced roles.
An evenly played first half yielded no goals going in to the break, with not many chances of note. Aaron Phillips saw a curled effort go wide on the 15th minute mark for City, only for a similar effort to fly over the bar from Birmingham’s Noe Baba three minutes later.
Aaron Martin was commanding the City back line well, as he continues to regain his fitness after a lengthy injury and his dominance in the air was easing the pressure in the Sky Blues' defensive third.
The home side had the ball in the net in the 23rd minute, but good link-up play between Alex Jones and Koby Arthur was denied reward by the linesman’s flag.
A last ditch tackle from Dion Kelly-Evans saved what could have been a clear cut scoring opportunity for the Blues late in the first-half, as Koby Arthur used his speed to drive the ball toward Corey Addai’s goal. 19-year old Kelly-Evans did well to stick with Birmingham’s pacey no.10 and got a toe to the ball to clear the danger.
The second 45 began quietly, but Addai had to be alert as winger Kyle McFarlane cut inside the City 18-yard and poked the ball goalward. The effort was well held by City’s 6ft 4’ shot-stopper.
The introduction of Jack Finch midway through the second-half gave the Sky Blues an injection of energy in the midfield area. Di. Kelly-Evans moved out to his favoured position of full-back, as Darragh Leahy made way and Finch slotted in to the space vacated by Kelly-Evans.
The Sky Blues were enjoying a bright spell as Finch looked to make an immediate impact off the bench and carved a good chance for the Kelly-Evans twins in the 70th minute. Finch spread the ball wide for Dion, who worked the ball well to his twin brother, Devon but the eventual shot was smothered by a combination of defender and Jake Weaver in the Blues' goal.
Arguably against the run of play, the deadlock was broken in the 77th minute for the home side with a superb bit of individual skill from Viv Solomon-Otabor. The ball found him on the right touchline, he muscled his way in to the City area and stroked the ball in to the bottom left corner.
City began searching for an equaliser and 17-minutes after coming off the bench, Finch levelled for the Sky Blues. The midfielder stayed calm in the box and rode a barrage of fumbled tackles to wriggle clear of the Blues’ defenders. Maintaining his composure and with only Weaver to beat, Finch slotted beneath the keeper to make it 1-1.
The visitors were only level for six minutes as an unmarked Alex Jones stole all three points for Birmingham City. A lofted cross found the striker on the 6-yard line and he tapped home to make it another disappointing result for Lee Glover’s side.
Coventry City: Addai (GK), Phillips, Harries, Leahy (Finch 65’), Martin (C), Di. Kelly-Evans, Bigirimana, Spence (Trialist 75’), Dev. Kelly-Evans, Sambou, G. Thomas.
Subs: Skuza (GK), Trialist, Hickman.
Birmingham City: Weaver (GK), Harding, Hancox (C), Adams, Challis, Mbende, McFarlane, Baba, Jones, Arthur, Solomon-Otabor.
Subs: O'Neill, Trueman, Seddon, O'Keffe, Popa.