Middlesbrough 0-1 Coventry City (0-1 on aggregate): Sky -News

Coventry will end a 22-year absence from England’s top flight if they beat Luton at Wembley on May 27

Coventry City beat Middlesbrough in the knockout round of the semi-final second leg to advance to the Championship play-off final, continuing the Sky Blues’ hopes of returning to the Premier League.

They take on Luton Town at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 27 May.

After a goalless draw in 147 minutes between the two games, moments of real quality were at their lowest point in a tense draw, with playmaker Gustavo Hamer finishing brilliantly to seal the match.

After Boro relinquished possession in midfield, Victor Joquerez kicked the ball in on the edge of the box, past goalkeeper Zack Stephan, and Hammer took control of the shot, pinning it into the top of the net.

He almost hit the angle of the post and crossbar with a fierce free-kick, and Stefan was beaten.

That chance, and the desperation that followed, seemed to reinvigorate Boro, who saw Riley McGory’s shot blocked in the box as they chased for the equaliser, with McGory cutting back for Cameron Archer, But he couldn’t put the ball down and get a clean shot.

Substitute Matt Crooks put the ball into the net and the Boro fans were on their feet with two minutes remaining, but an offside flag brought their celebrations to a screeching halt.

Eight minutes of extra-time sparked Boro’s roar again, with goalkeeper Ben Wilson having to be alert to bring down Isaiah Jones’ search center and Archer was offside when his final effort hit the crossbar.

Somehow, the Sky Blues persevered, maintaining their discipline, form and a clean sheet to book their place at Wembley.

sky blues reward of faith

In a season of Championship comeback stories such as the revival of finalists Luton and Sunderland’s debut season in the second tier, Mark Robbins’ Coventry have made it to the play-offs for the first time and are now heading to the final.

Robbins, who engineered their rise from Division 2 to Division 2 and Signed a new four-year contract On the eve of the second leg, the team came within 90 minutes of finishing in the Premier League for the first time since 2000-01.

He’s done that amidst a swirl of off-field issues — including uncertainty about their CBS Arena home and acquisition delays, both of which are now resolved — with a team built through savvy recruiting.

Gustavo Hammer
Gustavo Hamer’s curveball far outstrips desperate Boro defender

Top scorer Gyokeres has been a quiet figure over two legs, but his goals have been key to propelling City into the top six, while match-winner Hammer cost around £1.5m but his tricks have been The focus and passing ability of Robbins’ side — and a priceless target.

Mainstays like 2017-18 survivor of the League Two promotion campaign, Liam Kelly, remain a key component, while the experience of veteran centre-back Kyle McFazin has proven vital in tight situations of.

Like many Championship sides, Coventry have turned to the likes of Callum Doyle, Brooke Norton-Cuffey and Josh Wilson-Esbland on top-flight loanees before returning to the Premier League. Before their home team, they will play one more match to showcase their talents.

Carrick’s run ends with Teesside pride

Given that Middlesbrough and Coventry both finished third from bottom in October, both going into this stage of the season, it shows the excellent work Michael Carrick has done at Teesside and Robins at Midlands.

Unlike Coventry’s display of confidence, Boro owe their achievements to the timely change that Carrick replaced Chris Wilder in October after winning just two of their opening 11 games.

Although Carrick was a relative novice manager, his impact was immediate, winning 16 of his first 23 games in charge, lifting Teesside to the top of the league table.

Chuba Akpom was the tournament’s top scorer with 28 goals, while loanees Cameron Archer and Aaron Ramsey from Aston Villa added a different dimension to the attack and scored further goals to lighten the load.

However, despite their stellar home record, with just three losses at Riverside all season, they could not avoid their fate with the Sky Blues.

Carrick’s future looks bright with young talents such as Hayden Hackney and Riley McGerry in his squad, but whether he can re-sign the likes of Ryan Giles, Archer and goalkeeper Stephen will be key Loans may have a say in how they react next season.

“The Longest Two Hours of My Life” – Reactions

Mark Robbins applauds Coventry fans
Mark Robbins led Coventry to promotion from League Two in 2018 and from League One two years later

Coventry manager Mark Robbins told BBC CWR:

“Wow, those were the longest two hours of my life.

“It’s unbelievable, the effort they put in, the quality they show at times against really top opponents, it’s just phenomenal.

“To be in the Wembley final again, the third time I’ve been back here, is unbelievable. Everyone deserves it and the work done this year and tonight has been phenomenal. They got their due. But we already have to go to Wembley and win. That’s definitely our aim.”

Middlesbrough manager Michael Carrick told BBC Radio Tees:

“You can really analyze the game all you want, the fact is we didn’t get the result we wanted. Huge honor for Coventry, they’ve won it, so congratulations to them.

“We’ve got to keep it on the chin. I think the boys gave everything again tonight and I can’t blame them.

“We tried and tried and we just couldn’t create that golden opportunity and we couldn’t take that golden opportunity.

“I’m very proud of what they’ve done and what we’ve been doing. We’ve got to look at that as the foundation and the foundation.”



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