The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Jon Wal­dron

GIVEN their pre­car­i­ous po­si­tions in the ta­ble, se­cur­ing a pre­cious victory was al­ways go­ing to be far more im­por­tant than per­for­mance for th­ese two rel­e­ga­tion-haunted sides.

So it was lit­tle sur­prise that Coven­try City manager Tony Mow­bray felt that earn­ing three points against fel­low strug­glers Colch­ester United was all that re­ally mat­tered at the Ri­coh Arena.

A well-taken goal from skip­per Jim O’Brien late in the first half was enough to give the Sky Blues a vi­tal win over the U’s, one that takes Coven­try three points above the rel­e­ga­tion zone.

Mow­bray said: “It got a bit nervy with only one goal in it and we did have some great chances to give our­selves a bit of breath­ing space that we didn’t take.

“That’s foot­ball and the other team be­ing a goal down will gam­ble and push men on and put the ball in your box and try and get a goal late on.

“Your own team ends up de­fend­ing and sits a bit too deep, but we won 1-0 and got three points – we’ve got to be happy with it.

“There were good spells in the game but there is lots and lots that we have to im­prove on.”

Colch­ester are now three points adrift of safety with five games re­main­ing, af­ter their four-match un­beaten run was ended.

“It was a very frus­trat­ing de­feat,” said U’s boss Tony Humes.

“We didn’t start the first half like we did the sec­ond half and you can’t do that. “You can’t turn it off and on and it has to be con­sis­tent, be­cause ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers won’t give you many chances.

“Say­ing that, we had chances to get back in it and I thought we did enough to get some­thing out of the game. “A cou­ple of teams have gained a point on us but it still doesn’t change the out­come that we need – we still need to win at least three games from our last five.”

Coven­try al­ways looked the most likely side to make the break­through, in a cagey first half.

O’Brien’s glanc­ing header flew straight at Colch­ester goal­keeper Sam Walker and although Gavin Massey’s low shot was saved by Lee Burge at his near post, the home side were on top.

And soon af­ter Walker had de­nied Frank Nou­ble, Coven­try took the lead nine min­utes be­fore half-time through O’Brien, who pounced on Chris Stokes’ cut­back to send a low, crisp shot into the far cor­ner.

Colch­ester im­proved af­ter half-time and twice came close to equal­is­ing in the early stages of the sec­ond half.

Burge made a good save to push away Ge­orge Mon­cur’s ef­fort and then dealt well with Massey’s at­tempt soon af­ter.

Coven­try came ag­o­nis­ingly close to dou­bling their lead when Nick Proschwitz es­caped the Colch­ester de­fence and rounded Walker, only for his shot to hit the out­side of a post with the goal gap­ing.

Sub­sti­tute Sam­mie Sz­mod­ics’ ac­ro­batic, hooked ef­fort clipped the top of the bar late on but the Sky Blues held on for a big win.

COVEN­TRY CITY: (4-2-3-1): Burge 7, Wil­lis 7, Pen­ning­ton 7, John­son 8, Stokes 8, Ward 7, Fleck 7, Bar­ton 6 (Phillips 73 5), O’Brien 8 (Odelusi 78 6), Nou­ble 7, Proschwitz 6 (Mad­di­son 69 7) Subs not used: Thomas, Jack­son, Martin, Charles-Cook COLCH­ESTER UNITED: (4-3-3): Walker 8, Brind­ley 6, East­man 7, Khu­malo 7, Wyn­ter 6 (Briggs 69 5), Lap­slie 6 (Sz­mod­ics 69 5), Gil­bey 6, Mon­cur 7, Massey 5, Mur­phy 5, Porter 5 (Healey 76 5) Subs not used: Har­ney, Sem­bie-Fer­ris, Bonne, Lew­ing­ton

PIC­TURES: Me­dia Im­age Ltd

ES­CAPE TO VICTORY: Jim O’Brien cel­e­brates his match-win­ning goal STAR MAN JIM


ry Covent

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