MARK Robins has challenged his Coventry City side to maintain their level going into back-to-back away games this week.
The Sky Blues were 3-2 victors in last Friday’s meeting with table-toppers Reading at St Andrew’s with Gustavo Hamer, Matt Godden and Sam McCallum all on the scoresheet – giving 20th-placed City a second win in the Championship this season and a first success in seven attempts.
And with tough tests away to Nottingham Forest on Wednesday night (7.45pm) and Watford on Saturday (3pm) on the horizon, Robins is keen to see the level from their surprise triumph over the Royals maintained going forward.
“We were much better – changes were needed – we dealt with them pretty well and it was really important to get the three points for our confidence,” said the Coventry manager.
“We have to maintain that and to beat the team that’s been the best side at this stage, to win it in the way we did and playing in the manner that we did, was really good.
“We’ve still got improvement to come. I’m playing players that aren’t fit and they’re getting through the games.
“There’s been brilliant endeavour, commitment and some really good football played, all three goals were outstanding.”
With both sides struggling to create during the opening exchanges, a clean strike on 23 minutes from Hamer flew into the net after letting fly from Godden’s lay-off on the edge of Reading’s penalty area.
That was how the scoreline remained at the break, ahead of a frantic second half in the Second City.
An equalising goal for Reading appeared to dampen Coventry’s hopes of success when Lucas Joao picked out the top corner with 24 minutes remaining after cutting inside.
Max Biamou almost capped his first Championship start with a goal when clattering the crossbar in the final 15 minutes, though his side resumed their lead from the corner that followed.
Royals ‘keeper Rafael parried out Fankaty Dabo’s strike from range, but only into the path of Godden – who pounced with a reactionary finish.
Reading thought they had a second leveller when Sone Aluko’s free-kick looked set to nestle in the back of Coventry’s net, only for Marko Marosi to touch the ball away from goal with an outstanding stop.
And when Sam McCallum gave City a two-goal lead with a stunning solo effort that flew low into the bottom corner with four minutes to go, it was enough to earn all three points despite George Puscas forcing a nervy finish in the third minute of stoppage time.
Special praise was on the agenda for Biamou’s role in the victory, with Robins adding: “I think the introduction of Max was needed and he put an unbelievable shift in.
“He worked really hard for the team without too much to show for it, although in the second-half he brought others into play which was exactly what we needed.
“It gives Matty a lift and it means we can get up and support him and there were some good contributions from everyone else.”