COVENTRY United Ladies have taken their extraordinary survival battle to the final day after beating Lewes 1-0 in what was a must-win game for the Red and Greens at Butts Park Arena.
Katie Wilkinson’s second-half penalty, coupled with Watford’s defeat at Crystal Palace, means Coventry can secure safety with a win at the Hornets next weekend.
The result means Coventry trail Watford by a two points at the bottom of the Women’s Championship table ahead of a titanic battle between the two clubs on the final day.
Coventry started on the front foot and spurned a glorious chance to take the lead in the opening minutes when Olivia Fergusson placed an effort wide of the post from 12-yards out after good work from Elisha N’Dow down the right.
And Fergusson went close again when she poked the ball wide from a tight angle after latching onto Mollie Green’s long pass.
The chances continued to come United’s way when N’Dow stabbed an effort wide after Lewes failed to clear a free-kick inside their own penalty area.
Lewes responded with their first meaningful attempt at the other end as Lucy Thomas did well to hold Paula Howell’s powerful shot from the right-hand edge of the penalty area.
The Red and Greens almost found a way through moments later when Wilkinson looked to play Fergusson in behind only for Tatiana Saunders to race off her line and make a crucial sliding challenge.
And livewire Fergusson then battled to win the ball off a Lewes defender before driving into the box and seeing a shot pushed behind by Saunders.
Coventry continued to cause problems for the Lewes defence as N’Dow shot wide on the turn after the visitors failed to clear their lines from a deep free-kick into the box.
United picked up where they left off in the second half when Charlie Estcourt played a dangerous ball across the box that was bravely stopped by Saunders who needed treatment following the block.
And Coventry’s pressure eventually paid off when they were awarded a penalty for a foul in the box as Wilkinson fired the resulting spot kick low into the bottom left corner on 71 minutes to give the home side a deserved lead.
Jay Bradford’s side expertly saw out the remaining minutes with some excellent game management to extend their unbeaten run to seven matches in the league and set up a relegation decider against Watford.