Coventry manager Mark Robins wrote off his side’s Sky Bet Championship play-off hopes after their 3-0 defeat at relegation-threatened Birmingham.

An own goal by Bobby Thomas in the 12th minute and strikes from Ivan Sunjic and Jay Stansfield condemned the visitors to a third loss in four games.

Coupled with Norwich’s 1-0 win at Preston, it left the Sky Blues in eighth place, eight points adrift of the top six with four games left.

They have an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United next weekend and next play in the Championship on April 24 when they host Hull.

“We had to pick points up in three out of the four games we have lost and you can’t do that if you are realistically challenging, so it’s massively disappointing,” said Robins.

“We have given ourselves a mountain to climb. We could be 12 points adrift (of the top six) by the time we next play (in the league) and Norwich are too good.

“We didn’t start at all. Initially we had a couple of shots dragged wide, but they were first to the ball in every challenge. Every first contact they seemed to win.

“It looked like a lethargic performance and people made poor choices and it cost us three goals.

“They took the lead from an own goal where we didn’t get close enough to the attacker (Keshi Anderson), then for the second one, (goalkeeper) Brad Collins was unsighted.

“For the third goal we got dragged all over the place because we weren’t talking and that smacks of fatigue.”

The victory was Birmingham’s biggest win since October – and only their second in 11 games – and it moved them out of the relegation zone after Bristol City denied Huddersfield victory at the death.

Blues led when Anderson’s cross hit Thomas and deflected in at the near post.

Sunjic doubled the hosts’ lead with a rasping low drive that caught Collins flat-footed after a corner and Stansfield made it 3-0 when he clipped the ball past Collins following a superb diagonal run behind the defence which was spotted by Tyler Roberts on the left.

The closest Coventry came to scoring came in the 20th minute when Haji Wright’s lob hit the bar after keeper John Ruddy headed away a clearance.

Birmingham interim manager Gary Rowett challenged his side to repeat the performance for the next three games to avoid relegation.

“That was a much better performance and it had a lot more of what we expect and, lo and behold, you get your rewards,” he said.

“You might not find yourself solid defensively, but you find yourself scoring and creating chances.

“Some of the senior lads held the others to account in midweek (after a 1-0 home defeat to Cardiff) and everyone has taken that on board, which is what should happen. I thought we showed it.

“Now we’ve got to replicate that in the last three games.”

Rowett also praised the positive impact of the 26,811 crowd.

“It’s been no coincidence we’ve had five full houses this season and won all five games,” he added.

“If that doesn’t show the power of our fan base, nothing will. They were brilliant – the atmosphere was incredible.

“It was nice to reward that loyalty with a performance that had a similar edge.”

Russell Martin was glad Southampton “released the tension” by beating Coventry 2-1 to end a three-game winless run.

Saints’ automatic promotion dreams all but went up in smoke after draws against Middlesbrough and Blackburn sandwiched a last-gasp defeat to rivals Ipswich – leaving them nine points adrift of the top two.

Che Adams netted twice to see them past Coventry and restart the momentum towards a likely play-off finale to the season.

Saints boss Martin said: “That will release a lot of tension. First half we played so well, it was the opposite of Saturday [against Blackburn].

“There was some brilliant football and we should maybe have scored another goal as we created a lot.

“I should have changed things a bit earlier when players were getting tired but conceding in that moment was a bit disappointing – and Stu Armstrong apologised for not being where he needed to be.

“We should kill the game off and there was a bit of tension, but we showed resilience and character and I’m proud of the boys.

“It was a big response. I said to them that I didn’t want to get questioned about the mentality of the group, I think they showed spirit and character in abundance tonight.”

Adams is claiming Saints’ opener after the Scotland international got in the way of Kyle Walker-Peters’ 25-yard effort to divert past Bradley Collins.

There was no doubt about the identity of the second, Adams bundling home a corner.

Coventry defender Jake Bidwell calmly slotted in his first goal since January 2023 to set up a nervy ending for the home side but the Sky Blues will bemoan Haji Wright’s 10th-minute penalty miss after the forward slipped as he attempted to convert.

Mark Robins said: “It would it have been a different story had he not slipped for the penalty, but it wouldn’t have been a different story in the first half as we didn’t compete. We didn’t arrive until half-time.

“[Wright’s] absolutely fine. He’s there to take a penalty and he’s a really good penalty taker. It is just unfortunate that he had a slip.

“We needed to decide whether we want to be challengers tonight, and first half we decided we weren’t going to be.

“The penalty miss obviously has an impact. If we score that then the crowd is edgy and that would have given us a foothold.

“We didn’t lay a glove on them for the other 45 minutes. That is what cost us the game.

“There was enough in the second half but in the first half we shot ourselves in the foot.

“It isn’t about anyone else, it is just about us and our results. We can’t look at anyone else, we can’t do anything about it. But what we can do is not play how we did in the first half.”

Mark Robins was full of praise for his Coventry side after they ended Leeds’ 15-game unbeaten run thanks to goals from Ellis Simms and Haji Wright.

Joel Piroe pulled a goal back for Daniel Farke’s automatic-promotion chasers but the visitors could not salvage a point as they missed the chance to go top after Ipswich’s 1-0 defeat to Norwich.

It was also an important win for the Sky Blues, who kept pace with the Canaries in the race for the top six.

“I thought they were brilliant really,” said Robins. “We’re coming up against a top team with top players, with pace, with power, with quality.

“The two goals were absolutely brilliant, one from a set play, Ellis is on his toes to finish that one off and the second one is a fantastic ball.

“It’s Josh Eccles’ birthday today, brilliant ball in, great shape on it and Haji (Wright)’s put it in with the outside of his foot and that gave us a bit of a cushion.

“I thought we defended pretty well where you have to, I think we slashed at one or two things during the game but mostly we were pretty good and calm and when we were calm we got a bit more control and had a little bit more of the ball.

“Second half we were without it a lot more than in the first half when we started to tire and then they made changes and brought full international players onto the field, every one of them, to a man, some of them were asked to play in different roles, they’ve done really well.

“They deserve it for their work rate but some of the quality that we showed is really pleasing. The noise was incredible, my ears are ringing and I thought they were outstanding.”

Leeds manager Daniel Farke said his side lacked aggression as they dropped out of the top two with a first defeat since late December.

Farke said: “We started really well into this game, dominated possession, had many good scenes in their box.

“But when you have such a comfortable start you sometimes lose a bit of aggressiveness and greediness and I got the feeling this was the case especially in the first half.

“We dominated against a normally good possession side with 70 per cent possession, had more chances, more shots on target.

“From the statistics, a really good away game but we didn’t win the decisive duels and this was crucial today.

“The first goal we conceded out of our corner kick on the counter-attack, literally the first time they were in our half if I’m honest. Then with their first corner kick they scored out of it.

“We could have been a little bit more smarter and if you give away two goals relatively cheaply then it is always tricky against a really good home side.

“We had a good reaction, scored the first goal, calm finish and would have been happy had he (Piroe) taken his big chance.

“I have to be careful because if you lose the first game of the calendar year in April it is difficult to be over critical after such an outstanding run.

“But I still feel we had a bit more to give, especially in the first half and for that I want them to be a bit disappointed.”

Coventry boss Mark Robins has challenged forwards Ellis Simms and Haji Wright to hit the 20-goal mark following their fine 3-1 victory at Huddersfield.

Simms continued his stellar form in front of goal, hitting a first-half brace to put Coventry in control at the John Smith’s Stadium.

The former Everton frontman has now notched 12 goals in his past nine outings across all competitions.

With 11 minutes left, substitute Rhys Healey pulled a goal back for Huddersfield but Wright made the points safe for the visitors deep into added on time. Both Simms and Wright have registered 16 goals so far this season.

Robins said: “It’s good and they will be pushing to get to the 20-goal mark.

“There are enough games in the season for them to do that and I think that’s a realistic target for them both. It’s there for them.

“Their team-mates are creating chances for them. They are being positive. Hopefully we can keep doing the same and keep getting them into good positions to give them opportunities to score.

“There is friendly rivalry between them (Simms and Wright). It is good to see and the confidence is there.

“They know they are going to score and that’s the level you need to get to as a striker.

“They know they are going to hit the target; they will miss some but, more often than not, they are making good decisions.

“The talent is there for everybody to see and they’ve just got to keep going.”

It is now five matches without a win for Huddersfield as their relegation fears grow.

With seven games left to play, they currently occupy the final spot in the drop zone on goal difference.

Head coach Andre Breitenreiter said: “We had a good start. We had the best chance in the first 15 minutes with Josh Koroma.

“We should take the lead. We need more quality in the final third.

“They scored out of nothing. We were the second winner in every duel.

“We didn’t win enough individual duels in the first half and we spoke about that at half-time.

“Some players didn’t show their best performance today. I made substitutions and they did well and it changed in the second half. They did a great job.

“We knew one goal could change many things. We played more bravely and offensively.

“We then scored after the substitutions and we had the supporters behind us.

“You need a little bit of luck. We tried everything. It was very close in the end.”

Despite their precarious position, Breitenreiter remains confident Huddersfield can stave off the threat of relegation.

“I see the potential and the quality but we have to show the quality to finish and defend the goal,” he added.

“We have to stay together and fight together for survival. We, as a coaching staff, have to do our job.”

Wolves boss Gary O’Neil described the behaviour of Coventry counterpart Mark Robins “disgusting” after he celebrated his side’s remarkable FA Cup quarter-final win in the face of a 13-year-old ball boy.

The Championship outfit stunned their Premier League opponents with two goals in added time to seal a 3-2 victory and book a first semi-final in this competition since they won it in 1987.

It was after Haji Wright’s winner at the death that Robins showed a rare sight of emotion by celebrating in front of a ball boy, who had irked him moments before.

Robins offered an unprompted apology in his press conference after the game, but O’Neil said the teenager was left distressed.

“I was disappointed, I waited for Mark downstairs and spoke to him because I was really respectful at the end, having lost a massive game, waited for them to finish their celebrations, shook everyone’s hands, congratulated them on a real good performance, reaching Wembley and what a fantastic achievement it was,” O’Neil said.

“And he apologised, but to celebrate in a young boy’s face like that I thought was disgusting, the boy is really upset. It shouldn’t happen, but I don’t have too much to say about it because we have lost and it’s going to seem bitter.

“But I thought it was really important to speak to Mark about it because they are just kids doing a job.”

Robins was regretful afterwards and admitted to letting his emotions get the better of him.

He said: “I have an apology to make, before the winner went in, the ball boy has the ball, a young kid, so I am apologising to him, he has the ball in his hand, drops it and walks away smiling.

“It really annoyed me, but he’s a kid, at the end of the day I have reacted, we scored the goal and I went and celebrated in front of him.

“I apologise to him. I do not show emotion very often and before that happened I apologise to him, I don’t show emotion very often but that is what the FA Cup does to you. I apologise to him unreservedly to him.”

It is little surprise Robins was emotional given the manner of an unbelievable climax at Molineux.

It looked like they would be leaving with broken hearts after two goals in the final 10 minutes from Rayan Ait-Nouri and Hugo Bueno overturned Ellis Simms’ opener and seemed to set a Wembley date for Wolves.

But the Sky Blues were not done and in nine minutes of time added on they turned the last-eight tie around again, with Simms grabbing a second and then Wright earning himself folklore by grabbing the winner.

They are into just a second semi-final in this competition, with the last one coming en route to lifting the cup 37 years ago.

With some of the teams still left in this year’s edition, Robins is not overly optimistic of a repeat of that famous win over Tottenham.

Asked if he thought they could win the competition, Robins said: “Did you say win the competition? You do realise who is left in?

“Well, we have got a small chance. We are going to Wembley and we are going to enjoy that game, I don’t want to go there and just make the numbers up. We know, are not stupid, the levels go up all of the time.”

Coventry manager Mark Robins was a relieved man after his side came from behind to beat Watford 2-1 with two Haji Wright goals at Vicarage Road.

Robins admitted he considered making changes in the first half, such was the disjointed nature of his side’s display.

But Wright’s penalty in the 40th minute cancelled out Ryan Porteous’ headed opener before the United States international completed the turnaround.

Robins said: “Watford played well in the second half the other night and carried that on. They have got some really talented individuals with a lot of pace and power who can hurt you. Thankfully they didn’t.

“But I thought we were poor in the first half. We didn’t start well enough. We didn’t have enough of the ball and then they scored out of nothing when we didn’t really compete for the header.

“Their goalkeeper bringing down Josh Eccles for the penalty gave us a lifeline. I was contemplating making changes before half-time before that because there were too many times when they had two-v-ones.

“The second half followed a similar pattern, except we were a little bit better. Then we scored with the best bit of play in the game.

“Haji has the confidence to take on that shot and thankfully he found the corner of the net.”

Robins acknowledged his team’s FA Cup quarter-final away at Wolves next Saturday made victory imperative in order to keep pace with their play-off rivals. Coventry now have a 20-day hiatus between Championship fixtures.

Robins added: “I’m delighted with the three points at this stage of the season. That’s what it’s all about.

“The Championship is so much better this season with the quality it has, so your levels have to be higher to get anything from games.

“Three points was a must today and I’m grateful that we got them. We’ve got the FA Cup next week while other teams play, so you have to think that they’ll pull away a bit and we will have to play catch-up after the international break.”

For Watford manager Valerien Ismael, the frustration at another home defeat was obvious. His side’s last league victory at Vicarage Road was on November 28.

Ismael said: “Finally we started strong in a home game and we continued from the second half against Swansea. We took the decision to have a mobile midfield again and had a great start with lots of chances.

“We should have scored a second goal, but then from nowhere they got the penalty. In the second half we continued to push, but they scored from their only shot on target, so it’s a real pity today.

“But we saw good energy and good dynamic on the pitch to change the way things are going at the minute.

“We had some crosses too high, some crosses too low, some crosses blocked, but at least we tried and our game was back.

“We didn’t see anything from Coventry today. It was just one of those days when things run against you.

“We kept pushing and we were dangerous, but when things don’t go your way, you start to think too much again. We know that we can compete, but it is about confidence, too.”

Mark Robins heaped praise on hat-trick hero Ellis Simms after his first-half treble set Coventry on their way to a 5-0 Championship victory over basement boys Rotherham at the CBS Arena.

Simms claimed his second hat-trick in eight days after securing the match ball during the Sky Blues’ 5-0 win over Maidstone in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Joel Latibeaudiere and Fabio Tavares were also on the scoresheet as Coventry returned to winning ways after defeats in their last two league outings.

Robins, who celebrates his seventh anniversary in charge of Coventry on Wednesday, said: “It was a good start. Within the first five minutes, the goalkeeper has dropped one onto Ellis’ head and it puts us 1-0 up and settles any nerves there may have been.

“We blew them away within the first 37 minutes or so, Ellis has scored a hat-trick, Joel’s (Latibeaudiere) got a header from a corner…Ellis’ is left foot, right foot, header, it’s the perfect hat-trick.

“He’s not scored a hat-trick and now he’s got two in a week, gets his second match ball and that’s brilliant for him, brilliant for us, brilliant for his confidence.

“When he realises his strength he’ll be absolutely awesome. You can see he can finish with his right and left foot and that’s when he’s not thinking about things. He’s got incredible pace and incredible strength.

“Fabio’s finish was outstanding, I think Joel was above the crossbar when he headed it. It was just a really good performance and it was much needed.

“We needed the three points and to get it in the style and the manner we got it was really pleasing. The clean sheet was a brilliant clean sheet.”

Rotherham boss Leam Richardson admitted the Millers’ first-half display was the worst 45 minutes of his managerial career as his side slumped to their eighth defeat in a row, leaving them 19 points from safety.

Richardson admitted: “There’s some pretty embarrassed footballers in that dressing room right now. I will always defend footballers but that’s probably the worst 45 minutes that I’ve been involved in.

“You can accept mistakes. Vik’s (Johansson) had an outstanding season but you can’t stand games like this in the Championship. You can’t be soft, conceding three or four goals in the middle of our goal.

“We’re very aware of the situation we’re in. I’ve been here a number of weeks and it became clear very quickly the amount of challenges we’ve got at the football club, where we’ve got to move it forward.

“I’ll always back myself to move football clubs forward because I’ve done it in the past and I’ve got a really strong record.

“At this level, you’ve got to be really careful you don’t open yourself up to nights like this because the level is too big and if we’re not 100 per cent we will find ourselves on the back of things like this.

“It’s the first time that I’ve experienced it in my time at the club. I can make excuses for everybody but I’ll take the full blame for it.

“I’ll take it on my shoulders because I’m the man at the front of it and I’m the man who puts them out there.”

Ellis Simms scored a first-half hat-trick as Coventry claimed a comprehensive 5-0 Championship victory over bottom-side Rotherham at the CBS Arena.

The Sky Blues raced into a 4-0 lead before the break thanks to Simms and a header from Joel Latibeaudiere as Coventry returned to winning ways following defeats to Preston and West Brom in their last two league outings.

Fabio Tavares finished things off in stoppage-time to cap a welcome return to form for Mark Robins, who celebrates his seventh anniversary in charge of the Sky Blues on Wednesday.

Rotherham, who are all-but consigned to relegation as they sit 19 points from safety, were handed their eighth loss in a row and their 14th away defeat in 18 outings this season.

Simms had claimed the match ball just eight days ago as the Sky Blues reached the FA Cup quarter final with a 5-0 win against Maidstone.

The former Everton striker was gifted the opener inside the first five minutes when Viktor Johansson spilled Jake Bidwell’s cross and the 23-year-old was in the right place to nod in his 10th of the season.

Bottom side Rotherham barely threatened Brad Collins in the Coventry goal, Hakeem Odoffin glancing his header wide early on from Christ Tiehi’s inviting cross.

Latibeaudiere then doubled the lead after 23 minutes when he rose highest to power home Bidwell’s inswinging corner.

Coventry found themselves 3-0 down inside 38 minutes against Ryan Lowe’s Preston in their last home league outing, but Simms helped himself to a second to put the Sky Blues three goals to the good inside half-an-hour on Tuesday night.

Simms was on the end of a fluent counter attack when he swept in a left-footed effort after the ball had been inadvertently deflected into his path following Haji Wright’s run down the left.

Simms completed his perfect hat-trick before the break as he picked up a loose ball and whipped his effort into the corner from the edge of the box.

Rotherham’s Jamie Lindsay spurned an effort to reply after the break.

While former Barnsley goalkeeper Collins was forced into action for the first time after 80 minutes when he turned Peter Kioso’s near-post effort wide.

Substitute Tavares then finished off the rout with the last kick of the game with his first Championship goal in over two years as he slotted past Johansson following Milan Van Ewijk’s precise pass.

The Millers are already the unfortunate owners of the lowest points tally in the Championship – having only mustered 23 points in 2016/17 – and need four more points to avoid breaking their own record as they surpassed 70 goals conceded this season.

It was another bruising night for Leam Richardson’s side, whose winless run on the road stretched to 31 matches as they were dealt one more blow towards being relegated back to League One.

Carlos Corberan recognised the significance of West Brom’s win over Coventry as they moved seven points clear of the play-off chasing pack.

Mikey Johnston’s stunning strike handed Albion an early lead before Grady Diangana put them two up at the break.

Coventry came back and Haji Wright halved the deficit from the spot but despite late pressure Albion held out for a key three points to stretch their to-six cushion ahead of Saturday’s fixtures.

Baggies boss Corberan said: “An important result, it was important to win today.

“We were dominant in the first half, we found solutions to break the press and we controlled the ball in the middle of the pitch, without having too many opportunities.

“But the opportunities we had we finished them with a lot of accuracy.

“I knew the second half was going to be a challenge because they were aggressive in the middle in the first half and we lost the ball, and we needed to avoid that in the second half, it would be one of the keys of the game.

“Little by little we started to lose control of the ball and control of the game. They found options to be more in our (half) than the way we wanted to play.

“In the penalty they achieved an action in one minute when there was a lot of time to play.

“We then rediscovered control of the game when we changed to play with a five.

“We know that every game is going to be key with the value of every game being the same with three points.”

Sky Blues boss Mark Robins said his side’s first-half display was a “nothing performance”.

He said: “I think in the first half we were too passive. We couldn’t get out and gave them too much of the ball and they are a quality team, let’s face it.

“They’re in the play-offs for a reason, they have a strong squad with players who have know-how and little bits of nous, good quality and confidence.

“We did have three good chances in the first half but in the second we were more aggressive, the mindset changed.

“We didn’t move well enough, it was a nothing performance in the first half.

“In the second it was much, much better, we managed to get hold of the ball, got back in it with the penalty, and we had enough time to get back in the game but we conceded two poor goals.

“We had bodies in there for Johnston’s goal and Diangana ghosts in too easily.

“And we didn’t lay a glove on them in the first half – but Ben (Wilson) hasn’t had a save to make.

“Then late on we didn’t have a calmness.”

Boss George Elokobi hailed his Maidstone history makers as their FA Cup heroics ended with a 5-0 defeat at Coventry.

Ellis Simms’ first-half hat-trick and Fabio Tavares’ late brace fired the Sky Blues into the quarter-finals.

The Stones were the first team outside the top five divisions to reach the fifth round since Blyth Spartans in 1978, having started their run in September and beaten EFL sides Barrow, Stevenage and Ipswich.

It was their eighth game in the competition this season and Elokobi saluted his National League South battlers.

“I’m super proud of our players, super proud of our community and how we have gone about this historic FA Cup run,” said the former Wolves defender.

“There has been so much attention, they have inspired so many people. This is a moment we will never forget in the history of the club.

“We are all winners, some are a little bit disappointed but my job is to pick them up and remind them how far we have come.

“Everyone who watches football, this is the moment we live for. There are so many positives to take. We want to make sure we can concentrate on the league.

“The magic of the FA Cup is still alive. When we began this FA Cup journey we knew we weren’t going to win it. It was about showcasing our talent and skills. We have done that.”

Coventry rain riot early and were 2-0 ahead after just 15 minutes through Simms.

He opened the scoring after nine minutes, latching onto Kasey Palmer’s throughball to beat Lucas Covolan before linking with Palmer six minutes later to drill in a second.

His first senior hat-trick was complete after 35 minutes when Covolan parried Palmer’s 35-yard volley for the striker to gobble up the rebound from four yards.

There was no coming back for Elokobi’s side but they held firm for the majority of the second half until Tavares’ late double.

Coventry, who last won the cup in 1987, reached the quarter-finals for the first time in 15 years and will learn their opponents on Wednesday.

Boss Mark Robins said: “I’m delighted, if you do it right against any opponent who are below you, you should prevail. It was important we started well.

“We didn’t turn up on Friday (a 3-0 defeat to Preston) so we needed to start like we did. Ellis’ movement was brilliant, in 35 minutes the game was over as a contest.

“Ellis deserved and needed it, you have to take those chances. It should give him plenty of confidence, he has six (goals) in eight (games) and is starting to come to life and believe in himself.

“He has some brilliant attributes and he is doing it with plenty of scrutiny.”

Ellis Simms ended Maidstone’s FA Cup fairytale as his first-half hat-trick helped fire Coventry into the quarter-finals.

The striker’s treble and Fabio Tavares’ late double sent the Sky Blues into the last eight for the first time since 2009 after a 5-0 win.

It was a disappointing climax to the Stones’ historic Cup run, which had seen them win seven ties – including knocking out Barrow, Stevenage and Ipswich – to become the first team outside the top five divisions to reach the fifth round since Blyth Spartans in 1978.

George Elokobi’s National League South side became heroes following their fourth-round win at Portman Road but there was never any danger of a repeat at Coventry.

The Sky Blues were determined to avoid suffering the same fate as their Championship rivals, with Mark Robins’ men rampant from the start and 2-0 up inside 15 minutes.

Haji Wright forced Lucas Covolan into early action before Simms fired them into a ninth-minute lead.

Reiss Greenidge’s loose pass was seized on by Liam Kelly and he found Kasey Palmer to slip in Simms, who confidently beat Covolan.

The striker then netted his fourth goal in four games six minutes later, again combining with Palmer to drill in a low angled effort from 15 yards.

Maidstone, who lost 2-0 to Aveley on Saturday to leave them eighth in National League South, were outclassed and outgunned.

A rare Liam Sole effort dropped over but the visitors were contained by their hosts, who had moved into cruise control following Simms’ brace.

As their pace dropped, so did the amount of chances although Tavares dragged wide from 25 yards, until Simms completed his hat-trick 10 minutes before the break.

Again Palmer was the creator when his first-time volley from 35 yards caught out Covolan and the goalkeeper could only parry it into the path of Simms, who rammed in from four yards.

It was game over and half-time substitute Callum O’Hare went searching for another four minutes after the restart only to shoot straight at Covolan.

The goalkeeper turned Palmer’s strike away just after the hour and gathered Josh Eccles’ shot but the game had already begun to lose momentum.

Yet Coventry still found time to score twice late on through Tavares.

The midfielder rifled in from Matty Godden’s pass with two minutes left before he followed up in stoppage time to net after Covolan parried Godden’s effort.

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.”

Coventry kept themselves in the Sky Bet Championship play-off places after a hard-fought 1-0 derby win away at fellow Midlands side Stoke.

Ellis Simms’ third goal in five league games secured all three points for Mark Robins’ team at the Bet365 Stadium, consolidating their sixth-place standing on goal difference on 51 points.

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

Both managers made six changes to the teams that started their midweek games and there was a real lack of fluidity to the first half for the most part.

Coventry did come agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock in the 12th minute though, with Stoke goalkeeper Jack Bonham forced to save well from Haji Wright’s header via a deflection off Ben Wilmot, before blocking Simms’ effort.

The rebound fell kindly to Callum 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.

Stoke’s first shot on target came just after half-time as Lewis Baker’s tame effort was comfortably held by visiting goalkeeper Ben Wilson.

But they found themselves behind in the 51st minute when Wright caught Ki-Jana Hoever in possession and prodded the ball to O’Hare, who played in Simms to slot home from close range.

Stoke manager Steven Schumacher made a triple substitution just after the hour mark in an attempt to inject some life into the home side’s performance, and moments later Nathan Lowe’s left-footed shot on the turn went just over the crossbar to lift the crowd’s spirits somewhat.

There was further reason for encouragement in the 68th minute as Baker’s goalbound attempt deflected behind for a corner off Sky Blues defender Bobby Thomas.

Down at the other end, Wright had a glorious chance to double Coventry’s lead in the 81st minute but after a nice one-two with Josh Eccles, he blazed his shot over the crossbar.

Minutes later, Stoke substitute Million Manhoef took the ball down well and drove into the visitors’ box, but he could only find the side-netting.

That was the last real opportunity of a contest low on quality and boos rung around the stadium at the end.

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

Coventry boss Mark Robins heaped praise on Callum O’Hare after the midfielder scored a brace in the 4-1 win against Sheffield Wednesday which set up a FA Cup fifth round-tie against non-league minnows Maidstone.

O’Hare’s double came after Kasey Palmer had opened the scoring 17 days after he was the target of racial abuse at Hillsborough, while Bailey Cadamarteri had earlier equalised for the Owls.

Haji Wright capped off a devastating eight-minute spell in the second half to make it 4-1 at the CBS Arena.

“His (O’Hare’s) goals were brilliant,” said Robins.

“In the first half he’s had a couple of opportunities and he’s just missed, you can see the disappointment that he’s not hit the target. He’s made the keeper make a save from one and he’s had one that hit the stanchion so he wasn’t too far away.

“I thought the overall play, some of the one-touch passing and the movement and the calmness and patience, there was some brilliant football played and I was delighted, a really good performance.”

The rout sets up a mouthwatering game against sixth-tier Maidstone, the lowest ranked team left in the competition.

Robins added: “We’re looking forward to it greatly, they’ve done brilliantly.

“George (Elokobi) has done a fantastic job in getting Maidstone to this round, they’re on our level on the day, they’ll be on our level, we’ve got to take it really seriously, which we always do, and give them the respect that they deserve, they’re on the same pitch as us so we need to make sure we approach that game as we always do.”

On the win over Wednesday, Robins added: “Obviously this tie has been spoken about, the game up there in the league wasn’t great and we’ve spoken about that a lot so to progress in this tie against these was very sweet, the only sour note was Di’Shon Bernard’s left a shoulder in on Jamie Allen’s cheek and fractured his cheekbone.

“Kasey’s goal was a brilliant goal but he’s been calm and been patient just until that moment when he could get a shot away and he found the bottom corner.

“Second half was where we settled down a little bit and took control. I thought we took complete control but some of the play was outstanding, from top, top players who were enjoying themselves.”

Sheffield Wednesday manager Danny Rohl bemoaned the eight-minute spell which meant his side were beaten comfortably after making nine changes after their 4-0 thrashing at Huddersfield on Saturday.

Rohl said: “In the first half we played well with Coventry, it was a good game to see, but then again in eight minutes, three conceded goals, this is hard to take.

“This is what we have to learn, we spoke after Huddersfield about this situation, if you concede one then it’s about OK, be strong, make the basics right then come again.

“In the first half the reaction was great, we came back in this game, it was still open but then you see also I think the difference in the final third again today and I think this is where we are, we try a lot but they can make one movement and smart pass to make it 2-1, but this is at the moment the difference.

“When I look back there are some different goals, today we conceded the first after losing the ball where it’s dangerous, the second, third and fourth goal is when we are organised and in deep position, this is about how we protect our goal.

“Full focus on the league, that was my message after the game. Sixteen games to go, 48 points to take, this is our goal, this is our challenge what we have.

“We need results, we know this, after Huddersfield we had a good day with the team, from tomorrow we need to move forward.”

Coventry will host National League South Maidstone in the fifth round of the FA Cup after Callum O’Hare netted a brace in a 4-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday.

The fourth-round replay signalled the third meeting between the sides in 17 days, the first of which was marred by racist abuse directed at Sky Blues midfielder Kasey Palmer.

Palmer wasted no time in opening the scoring against the Owls before Mark Robins’ men were pegged back by Bailey Cadamarteri’s strike inside 10 minutes.

But three goals in eight second-half minutes, including two from O’Hare and one from Haji Wright, means Coventry will host Maidstone, the lowest-ranked side left in the competition.

The Stones became the first club from outside the top five tiers of English football to reach the FA Cup fifth round since Blyth Spartans in 1978 when they beat Ipswich 2-1 at Portman Road in one of the great recent cup upsets.

Coventry got off to a fine start as Viktor Torp nipped in to dispossess Bambo Diaby inside three minutes and slid in Palmer, who waltzed unchallenged into the Wednesday box before slamming home.

Danny Rohl made nine changes to his Owls side who were hammered 4-0 by Huddersfield at the weekend and they responded well to going behind when Mallik Wilks scuffed off target before Michael Ihiekwe’s header was diverted wide.

A mix-up in the Coventry box led to the Wednesday equaliser after Wright’s clearance hit the midriff of Josh Eccles, and Cadamarteri reacted quickest to pounce on the loose ball and squeeze in the equaliser.

Eccles was heavily involved in Coventry’s best chance to reclaim their lead before the break, winning possession high up the field before Wright poked agonisingly wide.

O’Hare also went close to putting the Sky Blues ahead for a second time when his curled effort rattled the stanchion behind the goal.

After the break came the devastating spell that killed the game.

After netting the opener, Palmer picked out O’Hare and the midfielder had time to turn and slot his effort past 18-year-old Pierce Charles to re-establish Coventry’s lead less than five minutes after the restart.

The former Aston Villa midfielder had his second of the evening seven minutes later when he latched onto a loose ball and bent a fantastic effort into the far corner.

Less than 60 seconds later the tie was over for good when Wright met Jay Dasilva’s tantalising cross and glanced his header into the far corner to secure the Sky Blues’ place in round five of the FA Cup for the first time since 2018.

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