Football
Coventry City 0-2 Doncaster

By Steve Carpenter 23/04 Updated: 23/04 17:28

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Buy photos » Winger Gary McSheffrey dribbles towards James Husband. Photo by Jon Mullis 17.012.012.cov.jm15 (www.buyphotos247.com)

FOR many Sky Blues supporters the date May 5, 2001 is one they will never forget for all the wrong reasons.

That was over 11 years ago when despite the best efforts of John Hartson, Mustapha Hadji and co, the Sky Blues were relegated from the Premier League at their Midlands rivals Aston Villa.

It brought to an end a 34-year stay in the top flight of English football, which for a club like Coventry was a huge achievement, and there was optimism that the club would bounce back.

But that hasn't come close to happening and supporters were put through the emotions again on Saturday (April 22) when they fell into the third tier of English football for the first time since 1964.

The pain suffered that afternoon at Villa Park came flooding back to supporters but this time around there is no reason for optimism.

Two goals from Hadji had given the Sky Blues the lead at the interval 11 years ago as they went down in fighting spirit, but a stunning second half fightback by Villa saw them come from two goals down to win 3-2.

And fans were expecting the same when Andy Thorn's side took to the field against Doncaster, who had already had their League One fate sealed with three games remaining.

But they were treated to a poor performance which consigned the club to only their second relegation, which is made all the worse given the club's current financial state.

Will Roberts was the latest academy graduate to get a taste of the first team after he was named on the bench as Thorn's injury list continues to grow.

Doncaster wern't looking to do the Sky Blues any favours and began brightly but despite dominating for large periods they were limited to just a few long range efforts which failed to trouble Joe Murphy.

Jordan Clarke has impressed at full-back since returning from injury in the new year and he was a constant threat on the counter for the hosts but his final ball was lacking any real quality in the final third.

Twice he was picked out in good positions inside the area but failed to pick out a team mate.

The second half followed in a similar pattern and with news filtering around the stadium that Bristol City were on course for a win, the atmosphere dropped almost immediately.

It was clear the players had sensed what was happening elsewhere which prompted a lively last 20 minutes.

Cody McDonald came within inches of putting Thorn's side ahead after he was picked out with a clever through ball from Gale Bigirimana, but the City striker could only direct his effort onto the left-hand post.

McSheffrey was next to come close when he somehow fired over from six yards out and Doncaster made the home side pay.

Richard Keogh was sent off for only the second time in his career after bringing down Jame Haytor inside the area as last man and Haytor slotted home the opening goal of the game from the spot, before Simon Gillett made it 2-0 three minutes from time.

Attendance: 15,124

Team: Murphy, Hussey, Clarke, Keogh, Cranie, McSheffrey, Thomas (Baker 68), Bigirimana, Norwood, Platt, McDonald.

Subs not used – Dunn, Jeffers, Willis, Roberts

Man of the match: Oliver Norwood has been one of only few positives this season and again he showed signs of really quality throughout the match.

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Buy photos» Picture by Jon Mullis 17.012.012.cov.jm11 (www.buyphotos247.com)

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