On a wet, blustery evening at St. Andrew’s, Coventry City dominated the play on a night to remember against Bristol Rovers, as the hosts strolled to a 3-0 win to progress to the fourth round of the FA Cup, where the Sky Blues will face their St. Andrew’s landlords, Birmingham City.
Coventry City manager, Mark Robbins made five changes to the side that started the Sky Blues’ 1-1 draw against MK Dons at the weekend, restating Pask, Mason, Allen, O’Hare and Biamou to his starting line-up. The visitors were forced into just the single change from their loss at Doncaster Rovers on Saturday, but the travelling side’s performance rarely reflected that level of continuity.
Instead, Bristol Rovers looked like a side yet to win in 2020, and it became clear after just four minutes of play that the travelling supporters would not be witnessing their first win of the year against the Sky Blues. Max Biamou – given the freedom to roam across the front three by Robbins – was afforded far too much space on the edge of the eighteen yard box, allowing the in-form forward to give the hosts an early lead.
On 23 minutes Jonson Clarke-Harris rattled the crossbar for Bristol Rovers with a driven header
The Sky Blues continued to exert pressure on the Rovers defence in the opening thirty minutes, creating chances through Pask, O’Hare and Walsh. Bristol Rovers did, however, register their first clear cut chance of the match on 23 minutes as Jonson Clarke-Harris rattled the crossbar with a driven header.
Coventry City ended the half on the front foot, sending Mark Robbins into the interval the happier of the two coaches. Bristol Rovers hadn’t got started in the first half; the visitors turned to the substitutes bench during the break, replacing Holmes-Dennis with Adeboyejo.
The substitution did not, however, have the desired impact for the visitors. Just eleven minutes into the second half, the home side led 3-0 at St. Andrew’s, a lead that ultimately proved insurmountable.
A powerful drive from Josh Pask fired Coventry to a two goal lead in the 50th minute, while the Sky Blues’ third goal came courtesy of a generous slice of luck on the five minutes later. Max Biamou will claim Coventry’s third, although he knew little about his second goal of the game at the time, as the ball deflected off his ankle into the back of the net.
The tenants will welcome their landlords to their temporary home in round four, as Coventry City’s cup dream lives on
Bristol Rovers were unable to lay a decisive glove on the hosts in the remainder of the FA Cup tie, failing to retain possession and build effective attacks in the face of Coventry’s aggressive three-man counter-press. In a match defined by the hosts’ dominance, the benefits of Mark Robbins’ fluid 3-4-3 came to fruition in the opening exchanges and prevailed throughout.
Bristol Rovers were out-thought and out-fought in a match that could have defined what has otherwise been an average season thus far. Meanwhile, the Sky Blues must now prepare to host Birmingham City at St. Andrews in the fourth round of the FA Cup. The tenants will welcome their landlords to their temporary home in round four, as Coventry City’s cup dream lives on.