Coventry City 1-2 Port Vale
THE NEW era under Tony Mowbray began badly for the Sky Blues after they slipped to a narrow 3-2 defeat at home to Port Vale.
In what proved to be a game full of twist and turns the Sky Blues surrendered the lead to allow the visitors to take a 2-1 advantage into half-time.
And despite levelling the score with 20 minutes remaining Port Vale, who are managed by former City defender Robert Page, scored a third to take home all three points.
Mowbray made just one change to the side that lost to Barnsley last Tuesday with Frank Nouble returning the the starting line-up in place of Sanmi Odelusi.
And the new Sky Blues manager could not have wished for a better start when after just four minutes sipper Jim O’Brien fired the Sky Blues in front.
Mowbray had spoken about bringing in some much needed confidence to the team and that was clear for all too see when O’Brien had the belief to unleash a low shot from outside the area which sailed into the bottom corner of the net.
With the Sky Blues on top they looked the more likely of the two sides to score again and the home support were on their feet again on 18 minutes.
Some good work through the middle by Fleck saw the Scot pick out Dominic Samuel and his shot took a big deflection before rippling the netting, but sadly for the hosts it was the side-netting.
The visitors grew into the match as the half progressed and former City winger Marl Marshall was proving to be handful.
His cross from the right was headed goalwards by Tom Pope on 21 minutes but Lee Burge was alert to make a comfortable save and the Vale striker came close to directing a Ben Williams at goal moments later.
At the other en Marcus Tudgay hit a shot high over the bar when perhaps he should have done better before on 40 minutes the visitors found an equaliser.
A shot on edge of the area flew through a sea of bodies and Pope made up for his earlier misses by stabbing the ball home at the far post.
Just minutes later Vale completed a remarkable turnaround when Marshall combined well Michael O’Connor inside the area before firing a powerful shot on the volley past Burge at his near post.
The Sky Blues knew they had it all in the second half but they struggled to create any real notable chances in the early stages of the second period.
Instead it was the visitors who relied on the counter who came closest to scoring a third goal.
Shortly before the half-hour mark Byron Moore did well to take the ball down outside the area before hitting a half-volley just inches over the bar and Lee Burge had to be alert to deny Marshall a second after he turned his marker before striking at goal.
With 20 minutes remaining Mowbray made a double substitution, introducing Luke Williams and Sanmi Odelusi, and it was the former who made an immediate impact.
A quick break saw Nouble hold off the attentions of Chris Robertson before feeding Odelusi and the Bolton winger beat Neal with a powerful finish.
But just six minutes later the visitors got their noses in front again when Michael O’Connor curled a free kick around the City wall and past Burge into the bottom corner of the net.
Simeone Jackson was introduced as the final throw of the dice for Mowbray but the closest they came to finding another equaliser was through Luke WIlliams but his free kick whistled just over the bar.
Player ratings: Burge 6, Stokes 5, Phillips 6, Martin 6, Pennington 7, Fleck 7, O’Brien 6, Barton 6, Nouble 6, Tudgay 6 Samuel 6