MARK Robins has called for his Coventry City side to keep hold of their pride, after losing sight of an eight-match unbeaten run in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday.
Tom Lees’ 67th-minute breakthrough was the difference at Hillsborough, despite the travelling Sky Blues enjoying the lion’s share of possession and attempts on goal, to hand City a first defeat since going down to Watford at the beginning of last month.
Considering Coventry have played no less than nine Championship fixtures since returning to action after the final international break of the year in November, it is understandable for City to feel hard done by – something which Robins was keen to re-iterate in the wake of the Owls defeat.
“We just feel it was a game too far for us,” said the 50-year-old.
“After the amount of games we’ve had, the ninth game on the run, you could see that. It was a difficult game and a difficult result, but no one should hang their heads.
“They’ve done fantastically well and they gave me everything they had.”
Just one change was made to the side last weekend, with Max Biamou replacing the suspended Gustavo Hamer, the striker almost making an immediate impression with a drive that required a strong save from ex Sky Blue Keiren Westwood.
Leo Skiri Østigård then nodded a Fankaty Dabo centre wide as the visitors impressed during the opening period – one which brought no goals despite further opportunities for Biamou and Wednesday’s Adam Reach.
After the break, the hosts began to find more success going forward and tested Ben Wilson through Josh Windass’ effort from range.
The goalkeepers were very much on top at both ends, the deadlock remaining intact when Sam McCallum’s cross-shot required Westwood to turn the ball away from danger.
An inadvertent header by Chey Dunkley almost brought the visitors a priceless opener when directing Ben Sheaf’s cross towards his own goal, but again Westwood was on hand to keep the ball out.
Coventry could not have come much closer to the breakthrough when Østigård’s darting header was swiped off the goal line by Wednesday’s Liam Palmer, a clearance that proved crucial when Lees nodded in Barry Bannan’s set-piece delivery shortly after.
Østigård was again a threat, but while he connected with a rebound that fell his way from Amadou Bakayoko’s flick on, the resulting shot could only ripple the side netting.
City’s final chance was a golden one, but again it bore no equaliser for the away side after Matty Godden lacked direction with his volley inside the Owls’ penalty area.
Robins says Coventry needed better composure in front of goal to avoid defeat, and said: “It was a really difficult game. It was a horrific pitch, but we weren’t ruthless enough in front of goal.
“We created decent opportunities, they cleared one off the line and we had the ball in decent areas but didn’t make the most of it – it was tough.
“We gave them a soft free-kick and they scored from it, that’s been something that we’ve usually been really good at [defending].
“We need to move on from it quickly, we’ve got some tough games coming up and they need a bit of rest before those games.”
While the Sky Blues are granted some extra preparation time prior to Saturday’s Boxing Day clash with Stoke City at St Andrew’s, the fixtures following that continue to come thick and fast, with a trip to Preston North End on Tuesday preceding the first game of the New Year against Millwall on Saturday, January 2.