Coventry 2-1 Oxford: Sky Blues triumph in Checkatrade Trophy final
By Simeon Gholam at Wembley
Last Updated: 02/04/17 5:36pm
Struggling Coventry secured an unlikely Checkatrade Trophy triumph at Wembley with a 2-1 victory over Oxford.
A massive 13 points adrift of safety and bottom of Sky Bet League One, Coventry gave their 40,000 plus travelling fans a day to remember on Sunday thanks to goals either side of half-time from Gael Bigirimana and George Thomas.
For Oxford, who pulled one back through Liam Sercombe, it was a defeat in the EFL Trophy final for a second year in a row, and Michael Appleton's side will now turn their attention back to chasing a potential play-off place in Sky Bet League One.
Coventry were hefty underdogs heading into the game, but it took just 12 minutes for Mark Robins' team to find the opener, as Bigirimana showed good composure in the box to control the ball as it ricocheted into his path before slotting coolly into the bottom corner.
Oxford dominated for the rest of the half as they attempt to break down a resilient wall of Coventry defenders, but couldn't find a way through and failed to even hit the target with any of their four attempts on goal.
Coventry came out for the second half with far more attacking intent, though, taking charge of the game and doubling their lead after 55 minutes through Thomas. And it was superbly-taken goal as well, as he took a touch on the edge of the area to control the ball before firing home an unstoppable drive.
Oxford were back in the game in the 76th minute as substitute Sercombe drove a a low finish home from the edge of the area, but their late pressure after that failed to pay, and goalkeeper Lee Burge made a stunning late save to deny Josh Ruffles from close range as Coventry saw it out to lift the cup.
Coventry boss Mark Robins:
"That surpasses everything. To win at Wembley as a manager, that was just phenomenal, one of the best football experiences I've had. The preparation was so important for everything to go right and according to plan. The confidence was lacking when I came in so to see that performance with and without the ball at Wembley in front of 70,000 supporters was incredible.
"I think both sets of fans were really good and the noise was tremendous. Oxford are a really good side and on an upward curve. They played some good stuff but we were a match for them defensively. Truth be told we just needed to find a way and we found a way to win.
"We'll enjoy the rest of today and then focus on the big game on Wednesday night. We know we're in a difficult situation but all we can do is try and keep going. It was a great day and it was all for the fans and the players. It was really important for us as a football club to show we're still alive and kicking."
Oxford boss Michael Appleton:
"As you can imagine there is a feeling of real frustration after working as hard as we did to get to the final and with the teams we beat along the way. The game was decided in both boxes, and Coventry probably had a hunger and desire to keep the ball out of the net more than we did.
"We got punished and it's almost as if we were a little bit too reactive to situations. There weren't enough defensive-minded players in the team on the front foot to read situations. The second goal was disappointing to concede the way we did, then it took too long [to recover].
"But we've got to pick ourselves up as we've still go an outside chance of the play-offs."