A penalty shootout victory saw City earn a bonus point in the Checkatrade Trophy, after they were held 1-1 by Forest Green, following Jordy Hiwula’s early opening goal.
Though the Sky Blues made ten changes from the weekend’s last-gasp win against Charlton, Mark Robins’ side continued in the same vein of form as Jordy Hiwula put City 1-0 ahead in the 3rd minute, with his first goal for the club.
A headed clearance from Jordon Thompson evaded the Forest Green midfield, instead falling to Tony Andreu, who sent a looping ball over to Hiwula on the left-hand side. Resisting the temptation to unleash a first-time volley, the forward took the ball down and sent a controlled finish into the near corner, beyond goalkeeper James Montgomery in the Rovers goal.
Following his assist, Andreu was closing to doubling City’s lead, inside ten minutes. An inviting lofted ball from the right led to momentary confusion in the Forest Green defence. With Montgomery stranded and the goal left unguarded, following a defensive clearance, the ball fell to the Frenchman who sent his volley narrowly wide of the right-hand post.
The Sky Blues dominated the play for the opening 30 minutes, though Forest Green proved tough opponents to break down. With City’s attacks struggling to get in behind the away side’s defensive line, Mark Cooper’s side went on the attack. Nathan McGinley’s header from a free-kick, deflected off a Sky Blue shirt, forced Liam O’Brien into action.
However, City continued to push forwards, as the team sought to double their lead. Jak Hickman, making his first start for the club, crossed towards Dominic Hyam at the far-post; the centre-back headed back across goal towards Jordon Thompson, whose own header was then forced away by the Forest Green keeper.
Keen to add to City’s attacking play, Amadou Bakayoko was the next man to go close for the home side. Finding himself in space on the left flank, his fierce shot was sent with conviction towards the far corner, but for a deflection to send the ball away for a corner.
It only took a moment, in the final five minutes of the first-half, to show why Mark Robins’ team were so eager to find a second goal. A low cross, whipped in from Theo Archibald, required urgent intervention from Dominic Hyam; the Scotsman’s flying clearance fizzing inches above the crossbar, with the away side fine margins away from ending the first-half on level terms.
However, the second-half almost replicated how the game began, as Hiwula was denied his second goal of the night, on 48 minutes. With Bakayoko holding off the Forest Green defence, the striker slid a weighted pass into the path of Hiwula, whose confident first-time shot curled away from the far post.
Moments later, and it was Bakayoko’s turn to go close, as the Sky Blues mounted the pressure on the League Two side. Following some neat build-up play, the former Walsall striker found himself in space, inside the penalty area. Controlling the ball calmly, he sent a finessed, curling effort wide of the near post, drawing cheers from the crowd as the ball skidded past the side-netting.
Although, the Gloucestershire were quick to respond. As Rovers roamed down City’s left flank, a cut-back cross found Lloyd James on the edge of the area. The Welshman’s shot, though hit with power, was comfortably collected by O’Brien, but maintained the threat on City’s slender lead.
In a call-back to the opening goal, Andreu and Hiwula combined once again to continue the search for City’s elusive second goal. Some cute interplay between the pair resulted in the ex-Fleetwood striker running in on goal, but his drive was denied by the knees of Montgomery. As the ball ricocheted off the keeper, it fell to Andreu who sent the rebound over the crossbar.
Much to City’s frustration, despite their overwhelming control, the Sky Blues found their lead extinguished on 69 minutes, as substitute Isaac Pearce headed the visitors level from a free-kick.
Hiwula, a constant threat to the Rovers defence down the left, was involved again as he cut inside to shoot on his right foot. A firmly struck shot, his effort appeared to strike Gavin Gunning on the arm, though the referee waved away City’s appeals for a penalty.
With the scores level, the result led to a penalty shootout, which the Sky Blues won in a convincing fashion. City scored four of their five spotkicks, and Liam O’Brien made a fantastic save to deny Geroge Williams, to leave City in with a chance of progressing to the next round, ahead of their final group game with Cheltenham.
Penalties: Hiwula – Missed
Forest Green – Missed
Bakayoko – Scored
Forest Green – Missed
Camwell – Scored
Forest Green – Scored
Kelly – Scored
Forest Green – Scored
Hyam – Scored
Attendance: 1,341 (85 away fans)
Goals: Jordy Hiwula, Isaac Pearce.
Sky Blues XI: Liam O’Brien (GK), Jordon Thompson, Dominic Hyam, Morgan Williams, Brandon Mason (Camwell, 56’), Liam Kelly, Abu Ogogo (C), Jordy Hiwula, Tony Andreu, Jak Hickman (Burroughs, 61’), Amadou Bakayoko.
Subs: Corey Addai (GK), Chris Camwell, Sam McCallum, Dexter Walters, Josh Eccles, Jack Burroughs, Jonny Ngandu.
Forest Green XI: James Montgomery (GK), Lloyd James (Pearce, 56’), Lee Collins, Farrend Rawson, George Williams, Tahvon Campbell (Grubb, 76’), Theo Archibald, Nathan McGinley, Paul Digby (Gavin Gunning, 56’), Matt Worthington, Ben Morris.
Subs: Robert Sanchez, Carl Winchester, Dayle Grubb, Reece Brown, Gavin Gunning, Isaac Pearce, Daniel Ogunleye.