By Thomas Branston
Coventry City scored twice to beat favourites Oxford United in the Checkatrade Trophy Final at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
Goals from Gael Bigirimana and George Thomas proved enough as the Sky Blues secured their second win at Wembley following the 1987 FA Cup success over Tottenham Hotspur 30 years ago.
United midfielder Liam Sercombe scored a consolation goal in the 75th minute to make a tense ending but Coventry held out to prevail.
The win comes as a welcomed distraction for the side that currently sit rock bottom of League One and 13 points adrift of safety with only six games remaining.
Coventry’s win at Wembley will undoubtedly only soften their fans’ fall with the inevitable blow of relegation to English football’s fourth tier for the first time since 1959 on the horizon.
Mark Robins’ side remain highly likely to go down, as they are 13 points adrift of safety with just six games left to play this season, playing four sides from the top half of the table.
Followed by a very noisy 43,000 fans, the Sky Blues struck first blood on 11 minutes when Bigirimana slotted the ball into the back of the net after Stuart Beavon’s attempted volley was blocked.
Oxford’s superiority and hard running counted for nothing as Coventry led 1-0 at half-time, despite threatening the U’s struggled to create meaningful chances, and referee Chris Sarginson ruled out a Kane Hemmings penalty shout after he went down following a nudge from Ryan Haynes.
Coventry wide man Thomas struck 10 minutes into the second-half, he controlled Kyel Reid’s left-wing cross with one touch before driving his powerful shot with pinpoint accuracy just inside the far post to send the Sky Blues fans into delirium.
Sercombe scored his effort for the U’s with 15 minutes remaining and with Burge producing a number of superb saves to keep Coventry ahead his one-handed stop from Josh Ruffels effort late on led to a last-ditch goalmouth scramble but the Sky Blues survived.
The final whistle blew and the Sky Blue half of Wembley burst into celebrations as Coventry City were crowned the 2017 Checkatrade Trophy Champions.