09 March 2024

Mark Robins ‘delighted’ to see Coventry maintain play-off push

09 March 2024

Coventry manager Mark Robins was a relieved man after his side came from behind to beat Watford 2-1 with two Haji Wright goals at Vicarage Road.

Robins admitted he considered making changes in the first half, such was the disjointed nature of his side’s display.

But Wright’s penalty in the 40th minute cancelled out Ryan Porteous’ headed opener before the United States international completed the turnaround.

Robins said: “Watford played well in the second half the other night and carried that on. They have got some really talented individuals with a lot of pace and power who can hurt you. Thankfully they didn’t.

“But I thought we were poor in the first half. We didn’t start well enough. We didn’t have enough of the ball and then they scored out of nothing when we didn’t really compete for the header.

“Their goalkeeper bringing down Josh Eccles for the penalty gave us a lifeline. I was contemplating making changes before half-time before that because there were too many times when they had two-v-ones.

“The second half followed a similar pattern, except we were a little bit better. Then we scored with the best bit of play in the game.

“Haji has the confidence to take on that shot and thankfully he found the corner of the net.”

Robins acknowledged his team’s FA Cup quarter-final away at Wolves next Saturday made victory imperative in order to keep pace with their play-off rivals. Coventry now have a 20-day hiatus between Championship fixtures.

Robins added: “I’m delighted with the three points at this stage of the season. That’s what it’s all about.

“The Championship is so much better this season with the quality it has, so your levels have to be higher to get anything from games.

“Three points was a must today and I’m grateful that we got them. We’ve got the FA Cup next week while other teams play, so you have to think that they’ll pull away a bit and we will have to play catch-up after the international break.”

The match proved to be Valerien Ismael’s last as Watford manager, with the club confirming on Saturday night they had sacked the Frenchman and placed Tom Cleverley in interim charge.

The club said in a statement: “The Hornets thank Valerien and his staff for their dedication and commitment. However, the club’s board considers it an appropriate time to make a change in order to improve results.

“Tom Cleverley’s staff will be confirmed in due course.”

The loss to Coventry extended Watford’s wait for a home league win, with the last one coming on November 28.

Speaking after the game, Ismael said: “Finally we started strong in a home game and we continued from the second half against Swansea. We took the decision to have a mobile midfield again and had a great start with lots of chances.

“We should have scored a second goal, but then from nowhere they got the penalty. In the second half we continued to push, but they scored from their only shot on target, so it’s a real pity today.

“But we saw good energy and good dynamic on the pitch to change the way things are going at the minute.

“We had some crosses too high, some crosses too low, some crosses blocked, but at least we tried and our game was back.

“We didn’t see anything from Coventry today. It was just one of those days when things run against you.

“We kept pushing and we were dangerous, but when things don’t go your way, you start to think too much again. We know that we can compete, but it is about confidence, too.”

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