Stoke 1 – 1 Coventry


Stoke and Coventry shared the spoils in an entertaining 1-1 draw to finish the season.

Leading scorer Viktor Gyokeres rifled the visitors ahead in the 14th minute with an exquisite angled finish for his 18th goal in all competitions.

But Sam Clucas leveled for the hosts two minutes before the break with a fine strike, his first league goal since August enough to earn a point for the hosts.

Stoke boss Michael O’Neill and Coventry manager Mark Robins both rang the changes for the last match of the season.

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Viktor Gyokeres celebrates after giving Coventry the lead at Stoke

Northern Irishman O’Neill made four changes to his side, with academy prospect Tom Sparrow handed over the opportunity to impress. Morgan Fox, Clucas and Nick Powell all returned to the Potters’ starting line-up.

Robins, meanwhile, made five changes to his team with skipper Liam Kelly back, as well as Josh Eccles, Ian Maatsen, Jordan Shipley and Chelsea loanee Jake Clarke-Salter all in from the start.

And it was the visitors who started the brighter on both sides and Shipley’s low drive across the face of goal just needed a touch from a team-mate to give the Sky Blues the lead – it was sadly lacking.

Midfielder Eccles had a shot charged down as Robins’ charges pressed for the breakthrough which, as it proved, was not far around the corner.

And it was Gyokeres who fired them into a deserved lead, the Swedish hitman making no mistake in rifling the ball under Stoke keeper Josef Bursik to stun the hosts.

And it could have easily been 2-0 just two minutes later when Gyokeres fired a shot wide of the right post.

Shipley tried his luck from a long range for visitors as the pressure mounted, before Eccles was forced off with injury on the half-hour mark and Robins had to shuffle his pack.

Gyokeres had a powerful right-foot shot blocked on the edge of the box as the Sky Blues kept searching for a second goal to give themselves some breathing space.

Bursik thwarted Callum O’Hare with a fine fingertip save moments later and the block proved crucial as Stoke hit the visitors with a fine counter-attack that saw them level matters.

Josh Tymon provided the assist to Clucas who, with a cool head, smashed his left-foot shot into the bottom left-hand corner.

Former Manchester United forward Powell saw his sweet strike tipped over the bar by shot-stopper Ben Wilson four minutes after the break as the hosts returned with real purpose.

Stoke’s leading scorer Jacob Brown volleyed agonisingly wide on the hour mark, but it was the Sky Blues who came within a whisker of restoring their lead.

Maatsen fizzed a ball across the face of the goal and Gyokeres was desperately close to the touch which would have bagged him a second goal of an already productive afternoon.

Tymon headed just wide from substitute D’Margio Wright-Phillips’ cross as the Potters kept pushing for another goal, but it was the visitors who nearly snatched victory in the dying stages.

Maatsen thought his goalbound header was over the line, but substitute defender and Wales international James Chester made a sublime goal-line clearance to make sure the Potters shared the spoils.

What the managers said …

Stoke assistant boss Dean Holden: “They [Coventry] were miles the better team, that’s the honest answer. They gave us so many problems in that first half an hour, we were really stretched and exposed. The gaps between our defense and up front were far too big.

“We were lucky to keep it 1-0 for as long as we did, but luckily we got a goal ourselves. We were fortunate to get the draw. Having said that, the gaffer went to work tactically and worked hard to get the distance. between the units in the team that bit smaller. That gave us the chance to keep the ball more, because we gave the ball away far too much. There were just too many unforced errors in the first half, which played into their hands. was a lot more even the second half. We didn’t create too much, but I thought it was a much more even game. “

Coventry’s Mark Robins: “There’s work to be done there – and we know there’s work to be done – but the football we’ve played was breathtaking, absolutely breathtaking. We were outstanding, especially in the first half. But we should have been out of sight, It’s been the story of our season. We’ve had so many opportunities kill the game off, which is the only disappointment for me.

“To go and do that to them on their home patch is absolutely outstanding. We’ve got to be happy, but not totally. To finish 12th in this division is a great achievement, especially because we’ve finished above a lot of very good teams. What we do in terms of recruitment in the summer is absolutely crucial. We feel like we’re not too far away from the play-offs and look like we’re not too far away from the play-offs, but we are. We know where we need to improve – and if we can improve we will do. But the players really need to take a good look at what they’ve achieved this season and be really proud. “





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