O’Hare double inspires Coventry fightback against 10-player Leicester

13 January 2024 0 By Total Football News

Callum O’Hare took centre stage with a second-half double as Coventry came from behind to secure an impressive 3-1 win over Championship leaders Leicester.

The visitors, with the chance to go 13 points clear at the top, had taken a first-half lead when Bobby Thomas’ rash challenge on Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall was punished by a penalty kick, which the latter converted in the 44th minute.

But the fightback was on after Abdul Fatawu’s rash challenge on Jake Bidwell saw the Foxes reduced to 10 players, before Leicester collapsed entirely in the second period, conceding three goals in the space of 11 devastating minutes.

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Leicester midfielder Abdul Fatawu was red carded just before the break after a late slide tackle on Jake Bidwell.

O’Hare’s quality dragged Coventry deservedly level in the 79th minute, chopping inside and curling a side-footed effort into the far corner, before Milan van Ewijk capitalised further by thumping a 20-yard strike beyond Mads Hermansen.

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Callum Hare found space in a crowded penalty area to beat Mads Hermansen with a low drive.

Leicester’s 10-game unbeaten run was under threat well before that point, but defeat was confirmed when O’Hare slammed a volley home – from Matt Godden’s deflected shot – in second-half stoppage time.

After a stuttering start to the campaign, Mark Robins’ side now find themselves within the Championship play-off spots, level on 40 points with Sunderland, while the Foxes, clearly suffering an off day, remain 10 points clear at the summit.

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Milan van Ewijk picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area and drilled home a crucial late goal for Coventry.

“It’s unbelievable,” scorer O’Hare told Sky Sports post-match, reflecting on Coventry’s upturn in form. “We said in the dressing room we wanted to show everyone what we can do today. Leicester are a great side, but I think we proved we are too.

Asked about his future, with his contract due to expire in the summer, he added: “All I can do is prove what I can do on the pitch. I’m playing well. Let’s see what happens.”

How Coventry maintained play-off challenge

Coventry had lost just once since December: a seven-match unbeaten run pushing them towards the brink of the play-off positions. Confidence was high, epitomised by the brilliance of O’Hare, who shone throughout a standout 90 minutes.

Coventry City's Callum O'Hare encourages the crowd after scoring their side's first goal of the game

Image: Callum O’Hare gestures to the crowd after powering Coventry to victory

On six minutes, the midfielder won the ball back for Tatsuhiro Sakamoto, and the winger jinked past James Justin before forcing a fingertip save from Hermansen.

Leicester last lost in November – successive defeats to Leeds and Middlesbrough – and dropped just four points since, but were unnerved by Coventry’s bold, bustling approach.

Godden’s deflected effort skidded wide as the Sky Blues continued to press, only to be undone by a clumsy moment from Thomas.

The defender lunged into a last-ditch challenge on Dewsbury-Hall and his momentum carried him into the midfielder, who stepped up to send Bradley Collins the wrong way from the penalty spot.

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Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall converted a composed spotkick after Bobby Thomas had caught him in the penalty area with a reckless lunge.

If the visitors thought they would then see out the half with few problems they were mistaken after Fatawu cleaned out Bidwell, and was promptly sent marching.

Coventry tried to capitalise and Godden wasted a fine chance, heading Van Ewijk’s cross at Hermansen 10 minutes into the second half, but pressure latterly told.

The home side went chasing victory and, after O’Hare’s leveller, edged ahead in the 88th minute when Sakamoto’s corner was only cleared to Van Ewijk on the edge, who lashed into the bottom corner.

O’Hare then capped the comeback with a volleyed third in stoppage time.

Cov the comeback kids

Despite trailing at the break, Coventry picked up just their second win in their last 18 league games against Leicester (D7 L9) and their first since February 2008, ending a seven-game winless run against the Foxes.

The managers

Coventry’s Mark Robins:

“We can only do so much but we will 100 per cent want to keep him [O’Hare]. Whatever happens it won’t be for the want of trying or not wanting to do it from our part.

“Looking at characteristics of people in teams, he epitomises what we want to do. He is brave, goes after things, a good communicator, an effervescent character and has added goalscoring to it.

“He deserves all the plaudits he gets. We missed him greatly.

“I thought we were brilliant. It was one of the best performances we’ve had this season, in many seasons. You have to understand how good the opponent is and then pick the bones out of the performance.

“Even with 11 v 11 we were outstanding.”

Leicester’s Enzo Maresca:

“We played two games, the first half was one and the second half was another.

“The red card changed the game completely. Abdul is very young, he needs to learn many things – in some moments you need to be more calm.

“It’s part of his process and he has to improve many things, at 1-0 up he tried to recover the ball not with the right thing. It happens.

“I feel proud when we win, win, win but today I feel more proud. We continued to play, fight and we didn’t concede important chances until the goal. It’s part of the game, with so many games it can happen.”

What’s next?

Coventry are back in action at 3pm on Saturday January 20, when they travel to Hillsborough to face Sheffield Wednesday.

Leicester, meanwhile, face a huge clash against Ipswich at the King Power Stadium at 8pm on Monday January 22, live on Sky Sports Football.

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