Jordy Hiwula’s second-half goal ensured the Sky Blues ended 2018 with a victory over Southend United.
The Sky Blues were looking to finish the year off in style at the Ricoh Arena and there were positive early signs for manager Mark Robins.
Conor Chaplin saw appeals for a penalty waved away by the referee inside six minutes, after the striker beat his man and unleashed a shot inside the penalty area, which was blocked by the opposition defence.
Making his first start for the club, Zain Westbrooke the Sky Blues support in the opening quarter of an hour, linking up well with Tom Bayliss and Dujon Sterling, as City looked to create fluid attacking moves.
However, the Shrimpers threatened to take a shock lead on 21 minutes when Southend defender John White headed wide at the far post from a Dru Yearwood corner.
Though, Coventry’s more patient attacking method almost paid dividends on 25 minutes, as the team worked the ball from left to right, culminating with a Sterling cross finding Chaplin in the centre of the box, whose steered header was deflected for a corner by the Southend defence.
City continued to pile on the pressure in the first-half. Westbrooke lofted the ball into the Southend box towards the far post from a free-kick on 34 minutes, finding Chaplin once more, who, after meeting the ball first-time, fired his shot narrowly wide of Nathan Bishop’s goal.
For the majority of the half, City’s chances stemmed from the right-hand side, however, a snapshot from Chaplin reminded the visitors of the attacking threat present on both flanks of the Sky Blues team, just prior to the half-time whistle.
Liam Kelly worked the ball to the striker on the left, who, after cutting inside and losing his marker, powered a thunderous drive from 20 yards that flashed past Bishop’s far post.
City began the second-half as they ended the first, with Bayliss producing a half-volley from 20 yards shortly after the break, though it was dealt with comfortably by Bishop.
Less than ten minutes after the interval, however, and City were finally rewarded for their constant pressure.
Another well-worked passing move saw Dominic Hyam switch the ball out to Sterling; giving the ball to Bayliss, the midfielder played a deft pass towards Jordy Hiwula, whose well-timed run evaded the Southend defence, before side-footing the ball past Bishop for his fifth goal of the season.
Without overly troubling Lee Burge, after City had taken the lead, the visitors began to press forward, resulting in many promising counter-attacks for the Sky Blues, only requiring a precise final ball to be through on Bishop’s goal, once more.
Intent on doubling their lead, City went close again with less than twenty minutes remaining. Swinging in a corner on 72 minutes, Westbrooke’s delivery was met by substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris.
Though his effort was saved, the rebound fell to Jordan Willis, whose own effort was scrambled off the goal-line, before Hyam fired over with a header.
As the game entered its final stages, the game went from end-to-end. Southend’s committing men forward left Chris Powell’s side increasingly vulnerable to counter-attacks, as the Sky Blues backline stood firm.
With an incredible eight minutes of stoppage time added on, the Sky Blues looked to hold their nerve, as support from the City faithful whirled around the Ricoh Arena.
Closing in on consecutive victories, Southend continually sought to apply pressure late on, though each wave of attack was dealt with swiftly, as the backline repeatedly headed the ball away from danger.
There was late drama as Lee Burge saved a last-ditch half-volley from Harry Bunn, but the ‘keeper held on to give City their first home league win over Southend since 1960.
Attendance: 11,395 (735)
Goals: Jordy Hiwula
Yellows: Michael Kightly, Timothee Dieng, Stephen McLaughlin, Conor Chaplin.
Sky Blues XI: Lee Burge (GK), Dujon Sterling, Dominic Hyam, Jordan Willis, Brandon Mason (McCallum, 81'), Zain Westbrooke (Doyle, 83'), Liam Kelly (C), Tom Bayliss, Jordon Shipley (Clarke-Harris, 62'), Jordy Hiwula, Conor Chaplin.
Subs: Corey Addai (GK), Tom Davies, Jack Grimmer, Michael Doyle, Tony Andreu, Sam McCallum, Jonson Clarke-Harris.
Southend XI: Nathan Bishop (GK), Elvis Bwomono, Taylor Moore, John White, Stephen Hendrie (Bunn, 83'), Dru Yearwood (Hutchinson, 73'), Sam Mantom (C), Timothee Dieng, Michael Kightly (McLaughlin, 73'), Theo Robinson, Simon Cox.
Subs: Ted Smith (GK), Michael Turner, Tom Clifford, Stephen McLaughlin, Harry Bunn, Isaac Hutchinson, Shawn McCoulsky.