Mow­bray suf­fers the Sky Blues on de­but

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By James Owens

TONY Mow­bray said he hoped to ig­nite Coven­try City af­ter his ap­point­ment last week, but en­dured a bap­tism of fire on his Ri­coh Arena de­but as vis­i­tors Port Vale turned in a stel­lar dis­play.

Mow­bray couldn’t have wished for a bet­ter start, with skip­per Jim O’Brien giv­ing them the lead af­ter three min­utes with a 25yard drive past Chris Neal.

But any il­lu­sions he had about the scale of the task were put to bed be­fore half-time, with Tom Pope fin­ish­ing from close range for Vale and for­mer Coven­try winger Mark Mar­shall smash­ing home a crisp re­turn from Michael O’Con­nor.

Mow­bray looked to his bench shortly af­ter the hour, send­ing Sanmi Odelusi and Luke Wil­liams on in search of an equaliser.

Odelusi quickly made an im­pact, fir­ing past Neal 20 min­utes from time af­ter fine hold-up play from Frank Nou­ble. But the par­ity proved to be short-lived, as O’Con­nor se­cured the points for Vale six min­utes later with an em­phatic 25-yard free kick.

Mow­bray made lit­tle ef­fort to dis­guise his dis­ap­point­ment, as he looks to save the Sky Blues from rel­e­ga­tion to the fourth tier.

“The first one was just ridicu­lously scrappy, some­body needed to put their foot through it and clear,” Mow­bray said.

“We got in front and I gen­uinely thought we were go­ing to be okay from that point. It was a scrappy goal and ul­ti­mately we’ve lost the match on a free-kick.”

And Mow­bray ad­mit­ted that he hadn’t missed the pain of de­feat in the 16 months since his de­par­ture from Mid­dles­brough.

“If we’d sat here and we’d won, I’d be telling you how great it was, but as a foot­ball manager it re­ally hurts,” he added.

“The highs are re­ally good, but there’s not much in be­tween.

“I can con­sole my­self by say­ing we’ve only had two days’ train­ing, and we can get bet­ter from this point. I’m sure we will.”

But it was a dream re­turn to the Ri­coh Arena for for­mer Sky Blues de­fender Rob Page, as his Vale side picked up their third straight away win. “We got off to the worst pos­si­ble start, but credit to the boys, they dug in,” Page said.

“I thought we played some ter­rific stuff in the sec­ond half.”

“We’ve got great char­ac­ters in that dress­ing room, and that never-say­die at­ti­tude.

“It’s a big plus for a manager when you’ve got qual­ity in the team, shar­ing the goals out.”

The Vale boss added: “There is a lit­tle more onus on us to take the game to teams now. Away from home, we wanted to be hard to beat.We done a lot of work, and it’s pay­ing off.”

STAR MAN MICHA

EL O’CONN

OR Port­Vale

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