EFL

Mark Robins hails Ellis Simms’ quality as Coventry continue push for play-offs

By Sports Desk February 17, 2024

Coventry manager Mark Robins heaped praise on match-winner Ellis Simms after his side kept themselves in the Sky Bet Championship play-off places with a hard-fought 1-0 win away at struggling Stoke.

Simms, a summer signing from Everton, followed up his goal in the 2-2 draw with Plymouth on Wednesday by settling the contest at the Bet365 Stadium.

The winner came in the 51st minute when Haji Wright caught Ki-Jana Hoever in possession and prodded the ball to Callum O’Hare, who played in Simms to slot home.

Victory consolidates the Sky Blues’ sixth-placed standing on goal difference on 51 points.

“We’ve had to dig in because it wasn’t a great game,” Robins said. “There wasn’t really much quality on show.

“I think really the bits of quality that were on show, Ellis Simms, I thought, was involved in all of them. I think his goal was brilliantly taken.

“I think he’s got confidence from the goal on Wednesday evening, and really they’re not easy those because you’ve got a lot of time to look at it and he found the back of the net really well to complete the move.

“Hadji on the back of him (Hoever) has nicked it from him, Callum O’Hare releases him really quickly and he goes and puts it into the net – brilliant finish.”

Coventry did come agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock early on, with Jack Bonham saving well from Wright’s header via a deflection off Ben Wilmot before blocking Simms’ effort.

The rebound fell kindly to O’Hare, who looked certain to score, but Wilmot – making his 100th appearance for Stoke – was on the line to divert the ball onto the post and away.

“They threw some bodies behind it, but I don’t know how we’ve not scored,” Robins added. “And really, we would have opened the game up then.

“But again, you have to show concentration and it just looked like a really tired performance from both teams because of the amount of games that we’ve got.”

Defeat for Stoke means they have now lost five of their last six games, leaving them in 19th place and just three points clear of the relegation zone.

“I thought it was quite a close game, quite tight,” manager Steven Schumacher said. “There wasn’t a lot in it between the two teams.

“It was just an error that’s decided it, which is obviously disappointing from our point of view.

“But I can’t fault the players’ effort. I thought they gave everything. I think the players who started competed and had to try and keep a really good Coventry team relatively quiet.

“And then I think the subs who came on in the last half an hour gave us some energy and played with a good tempo, but unfortunately that one moment has decided it.”

Despite ending a four-match losing streak last time out with a 1-0 victory over QPR, it’s now just three wins in 19 league matches for Stoke, who face a real battle to avoid the drop.

“It’s important that we don’t lose our belief,” Schumacher added.

“It’s not the end of the world. I understand no one wants to lose games of football. We don’t want to come in here and accept that we lose another game at home – far from it.

“But the fans will accept it if the players give 100 per cent, and they definitely did do that today.”

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