Cambridge United came away from the Ricoh Arena defeated 3-1 by Sky Bet League Two high flyers Coventry City, but could feel aggrieved after being denied two strong penalty claims in a resilient second half display.
Goals from Marc McNulty, Jordan Sibley and Michael Doyle decided the clash, with George Taft pulling a goal back for the U’s in a much improved second period, where Uche Ikpeazu and George Maris both had big penalty shouts waved away by referee Tom Nield.
The U’s were without Greg Taylor and Medy Elito for the encounter, with both ruled out due to illness, with Taft making his third debut for the U’s having arrived from Mansfield back on loan 24 hours earlier.
In Coventry City, the U’s were up against a side with a fearsome home record and it didn’t take long to see why, when McNulty pounced on to a loose ball outside the U’s area and bent it past the out-stretched David Forde into the bottom right corner to break the deadlock on ten minutes.
United began to grow into the game up to the half an hour, but without really testing Coventry City keeper Lee Burge and they were punished soon after. A deflected cross allowed McNulty the space to loop a pass towards Jordan Shipley at the far post, who guided his header back across goal and over Forde to double the advantage.
Much like before the Sky Blues’ second of the game, the U’s saw plenty of the ball before the break and in first half added time Uche Ikpeazu forced two fine saves from Burge to give Shaun Derry’s men hope of taking something from the encounter.
United continued to improve during the early stages of the second half and had the first of two strong penalty claims ignored, after Uche Ikpeazu looked to have been fouled when powering into the Coventry 18 yard box.
Jevani Brown was denied the opportunity to tap in from close range soon after, when a last ditch Sky Blues interception was made before the attacking midfielder could bury Ikpeazu’s pass through the six yard box.
As the game passed the hour mark the U’s attack continued to test the hosts, George Maris close with a mid-range right footed strike which saw Burge forced to tip the ball round his far post. Only a brief scare for David Forde saw the Sky Blues look likely to extend their lead.
George Maris seemed to have his shot from 18 yards blocked by a Sky Blues’ arm 15 minutes from time, but again the officials refused the claims for a penalty from United’s players and adamant travelling supporters and instead awarded United a corner.
It was from a corner that the U’s eventually pulled a deserved goal back through Taft on debut five minutes from time, with the centre-back bulleting a header with enough force to beat Burge. However as the U’s marched forward in the dying embers, the Sky Blues took advantage on the break with captain Michael Doyle completing the score line.
Coventry City: Burge, Grimmer, Stokes, McDonald, Doyle, Biamou, McNulty, Davies, Kelly-Evans (Vincenti, 64 mins), Shipley (Haynes, 70 mins), Bayliss
Cambridge United: Forde, Halliday, Taft, Darling, Carroll, Maris, O’Neil (Dunk, 85 mins), Deegan, Brown, Waters (Azeez, 72 mins), Ikpeazu (Corr, 85 min)
Attendance: 6897 (493)