First-half goal condemns Crawley to second round exit in Checkatrade Trophy
A first-half goal from Marvin Sordell condemned Reds to a somewhat harsh Checkatrade Trophy exit at the Ricoh Arena.
The Sky Blues deserved their half-time advantage supplied by Sordell’s close-range advantage but in the second half Crawley got their passing game going and carved out three good chances, but on each occasion a frustrated Adi Yussuf could not take advantage.
But after Saturday’s debacle at Yeovil it was a much improved performance by Reds, which should give them renewed confidence for Saturday’s League 2 trip to Crewe Alexandra.
Crawley had made six changes to the side thumped 5-0 by Yeovil. Mitchell Beeney, Lewis Young, Chris Arthur and Josh Yorwerth all came in and there was a second start for Sanchez Watt. Jordan Roberts dropped out with illness before kick-off so Coventry fan James Collins, who had been due to start on the bench, was drafted into the starting XI.
With only a small section of the vast 32,000 Ricoh Arena open there was an eerie silence at kick off although the 1,338 crowd did include a 58-strong contingent of Reds fans sitting in splendid isolation in the South Stand – and they were making all the noise before kick off as they took the applause of the players.
The hosts came into the contest on the back of a weekend thumping of their own – 4-0 at Cambridge in the FA Cup – and it was no surprise to see them make a high-tempo start.
Sordell shot wide from 15 yards in the 20th minute but it was Reds, who had slowly worked their way into the contest, who had the first shot on target on 25 minutes when Billy Clifford cut inside from the left and forced Reice Charles-Cook to parry his effort and gather at the second attempt.
But it was the Sky Blues who broke the deadlock on 27 minutes. George Thomas got past Chris Arthur down the right and his low cross took a deflection off Mark Connolly’s outstretched leg and into the path of Sordell, who beat Beeney from close range. The goalscorer had been denied by a smart low save from Beeney moments earlier but made no mistake on this occasion.
The goal had come during Reds best spell and once behind the visitors struggled to create much for the remainder of the half, which ended with Coventry defender Jordan Turnbull booked for a foul on Watt.
Drummy made two changes at the break. Jason Banton replaced Clifford and Conor Henderson came on in midfield in place of Collins, with Adi Yussuf pushed into attack.
Yussuf had the visitors best chance to level in the 56th minute. He was found by an excellent pass from Aryan Tajbakhsh but fired over after electing to take on his shot first-time. Yussuf then spun his marker and his low cross was cleared at full stretch by Turnbull with Henderson poised to pounce.
Watt was replaced by Enzio Boldewijn in the 59th minute before Yussuf went close again in the 65th minute. This time it was Kaby Djalo’s pass which found him but Yussuf was denied by a sprawling save from Charles-Cook.
Yussuf then made a lung-bursting run from inside his own half into the Coventry box but with Boldewijn and Henderson well placed for a cross, he elected to shoot and his effort was deflected for a corner, which Coventry cleared.
Reds had been the better side in the second half with the substitutes making an impression but that was the last time they threatened the home goal and Coventry could have added a second when Marcus Tudgay intercepted Mark Connolly’s pass and was through on Beeney only to side-foot half a yard wide of the far post.
Yorwerth was pushed up front in the closing stages but the Sky Blues hung on to book their place in the third round.