Mowbray suffers the Sky Blues on debut
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