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The last FA Cup few attack Coventry City after Robins’ tactical curve ball, which cost £161 million, added salt to injury.



For just the second time in the team’s history—after their victory in 1987—Coventry City advanced to the FA Cup semifinals, pulling off another incredibly impressive performance and accomplishment.

For the fortunate 4,800 supporters who were able to secure tickets, the Sky Blues triumphed over Premier League Wolves with a thrilling stoppage time double, turning what appeared to be a 2-1 loss completely around. It was one of those memorable “I was there” moments.

From the first whistle, City dominated their opponents in the top flight, displaying fearlessness and confidence in every player’s superb performance on the day, which made the thousands of spectators at home and in other locations and bars as well as those in attendance extremely proud.

The contest fluctuated, with City having more than their share of opportunities and one horrible miss before eventually reaping the benefits when Ellis Simms gave them the lead. Hugo Bueno and Ryan Ait-Nouri scored two goals in the final ten minutes to overcome that, sending the Molineux supporters into a frenzy of “que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, we’re going to Wemberly.”

However, Coventry’s tenacity and a healthy dose of “we’ll fight ’til the game is won” mentality resulted to a thrilling finish, with Simms drawing even in the 97th minute and setting up Haji Wright for an incredible winner three minutes later in a thrilling game finale. For the fourth time in eight years, Championship Coventry City will be playing at the Arch as Robins continues to provide happy memories and experiences for the fortunate youth who have never experienced anything different and the elderly who have endured hardships and are now finally receiving recognition for their unwavering loyalty. Here are a few of the main talking points from the thrilling 3-2 victory in the FA Cup quarterfinal.

Adding insult to injury, £161 million

The Wolves injury list was one of the first topics discussed by both managers in their respective post-match press conferences. Mark Robins acknowledged this, saying, “Coming into the game you know they have injuries to key players – I mean, Pedro Neto is absurd.” It helps you realize that there is still a chance, even though we are so sad about the pair we have lost.

In contrast, Gary O’Neil declared in his opening gambit, “I am proud of the players.” The result of today’s match is simply a culmination of the club’s progress over the past few years, and while it’s understandably difficult to remain optimistic after a defeat, the fact that a Premier League team only has one fit senior attacking player says a lot about themselves! It is difficult, and Coventry was able to take advantage of our inadequacies on the day to win. I am deeply disappointed that we fell just short.

Even though the Brazilian striker Matheus Cunha, who cost a staggering £44 million, Jeanricner Bellegarde, who cost £12.8 million, and Neto, whose market value is currently estimated at £47 million, helped the Sky Blues catch Wanderers at a favorable time, they were still far behind going into the game because O’Neil’s starting lineup, which includes Nathan Fraser, a homegrown teenage striker, was still valued at about £161 million. Conversely, Coventry’s entire roster is just worth £45 million.

Robins’ excellent strategic curve ball

Mark Robins changed his team’s formation to further demonstrate his cunning strategy. Due in large part to the loss of winger Tatsuhiro Sakamoto for the rest of the season, he had been using a back three with wing-backs with some degree of success. However, he pulled off an unexpected switch to a back four, using Milan van Ewijk wide of a forward three. The boss has been reluctant to use the Dutchman, especially at first, despite the fact that he has been a clear alternative to step in higher up the pitch. However, it was a great success, as Van Ewijk outmuscled his opponent and scored several well-placed crosses. This bodes well for the rest of the season. With the initial teamsheet suggesting City will remain with a back three and use him and Bidwell as wing-backs, Gary O’Neil will most likely not have been anticipating that.

Similar to this, Robins played Jay Dasilva wide on the left at Leeds in December after Daniel Farke conceded, grudgingly and somewhat harshly, that the “defensive” decision had taken him off guard. Not only did Van Ewijk provide strong support for Joel Latibeaudiere while he was playing right back, but he also posed a threat when attacking.

Oddly enough, Wolves’ man-of-the-match candidate Jose Sa sustained an injury early in the first half for no apparent reason, forcing the restart of the contest. Call me cynical, but while the goalie was getting treatment, the other players hurried to the technical area to grab refreshments, and several of them huddled around an iPad while the manager and his coaches tried to correct them about changing their on-field strategies.

Coventry City manager Mark Robins embraces Haji Wright
Following their match at the Molineux in Wolverhampton, during the Emirates FA Cup quarterfinal, Coventry City manager Mark Robins gives an embrace to Haji Wright.

VAR had a role.

Following his high boot assault on Callum O’Hare, which caused City’s attacking midfielder to need medical attention after taking a brutal knock to the nose, Nelson Semedo was strongly considered by many partisan and even impartial observers to have deserved a red card. The Wolves midfielder was “fortunate” to get away with it, according to ITV pundit Ally McCoist, and the fact that he tried to pull his foot away at the last second might have rescued him from a VAR review.

The brilliant 4,800-strong Sky Blue Army became a little restless when Ellis Simms’ opener was repeatedly and intensely examined from every angle for a possible hand ball. There was even some booing as the game was delayed for more than four minutes before the goal was finally confirmed, with the footage remaining inconclusive. The Sky Blues, of course, are not used to such checks. Even though it was frustrating to have to wait in suspense for so long, the visitors ended up benefiting greatly from the time delay as it helped make up for the nine minutes of overtime that City needed to win in order to pull off their incredible “come from behind” victory.

The big screen displays a VAR
Before Coventry City’s first goal is awarded in the Emirates FA Cup quarterfinal at the Molineux in Wolverhampton, a video assistant review is shown on the big screen.

MOM was minutes away from

Under normal conditions, Ellis Simms, the hero of the Sky Blues, should have won man-of-the-match after two goals and one assist in an exciting 3-2 victory, but he fell short at Molineux. After five of the nine extra minutes had elapsed, the ITV production crew waited to nominate, and understandably, Ally McCoist chose Rayan Ait-Nouri.

The Algerian forward put Wolves ahead 2-1 after setting up Hugo Bueno, a Spanish substitute. Just one minute had passed since McCoist’s official announcement when Simms scored his second goal from close range, and there was still time to set up Hadji Wright’s spectacular victory. José Sá cemented his claim to be Man of the Match with a string of outstanding saves prior to the late frenzy of four goals in 17 minutes, as City amassed 24 scoring efforts, twelve of which were on target. Commentator McCoist said, “The Portuguese goalie has kept Wolves in the game.” Radio Five analyst Leon Osman agreed.

Coventry City's Ellis Simms
Ellis Simms of Coventry City celebrates after going up 2-0 in the game at the Molineux in Wolverhampton as part of the Emirates FA Cup quarterfinal.

Everybody desires Cov

Now that Coventry City has advanced to the FA Cup last four, it is safe to say that the other clubs in the competition are salivating over the possibility of losing to the Sky Blues. All of the teams, including Man City and the winners of Sunday’s other quarterfinal matches between Man United and Liverpool and Chelsea and Leicester, will view Coventry as a free ticket to the championship game.

Mark Robins responded, “You do realize who’s left in it!” when asked if his club could win the Cup and go all the way. Though we only have a slim chance, we must enjoy the semi-final match at Wembley. However, I don’t want to just claim that the statistics are fictitious.

“We have to go and enjoy it even though I know, and I am not naive, that the levels go up all the time. I am expecting a really, really tough confrontation when we get to Wembley.”


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