Coventry City are Wembley-bound after Tuesday night's famous but nail-biting victory over Wycombe Wanderers at the Ricoh. City will face either Oxford United or Luton Town on April 2nd in the EFL Trophy final (aka Checkatrade Trophy). The match was the ultimate 'game of two halves' with the previously goal-shy Sky Blues scoring two early goals but surviving a Wycombe bombardment led by their heavyweight striker Akinfenwa after the break. The scenes at the end were memorable and the sound created by 11,000 City fans was incredible.
It has taken thirty years for City fans to get a return trip to the famous stadium, although Wembley has of course been completely rebuilt in the meantime. I thought I would do a bit of research into teams that have appeared at Wembley in the 30 years since City last appeared there. In that time the old and new stadiums have hosted FA Cup finals & semi-finals, League Cup finals, Play-off finals and Football League & FA Trophy finals. Amazingly the Sky Blues are one of only two teams in the top three divisions not to have played at either national stadium in those 30 years – the other being Fulham. There are also four current League Two clubs (Accrington, Crawley, Hartlepool & Barnet) who haven't been to either Wembley. Fulham's only ever appearance at the stadium was the FA Cup final in 1975 when they lost to West Ham but they have reached an FA Cup semi final in 2002 (played at Villa Park whilst the new Wembley was under construction) and the Europa League final in 2010.
It's back to league action today at Oldham and City, propping up the division, are now desperate for points to avoid a third relegation this century. Last Saturday's dire performance at home to Millwall increased the pressure on the Sky Blues. It was the thirteenth league game without a victory and one short of that dreadful run of 14 in 2012 that saw the club relegated from the Championship and start the following season without a win in eight. Coincidentally that run ended at Oldham with a late Cody McDonald goal. Manager Russell Slade has still to record a league victory and Saturday was his seventh without a win and only two short of the worst start for a Coventry manager set by Noel Cantwell in 1967. The glimmer of hope for Russell is that Cantwell, despite his poor start, managed to steer City out of seemingly certain relegation from Division One.
Goals have been hard to come by this season and Saturday's blank was the fourth league game running that the team have failed to score – the worst run since 2003 when they went six without a goal. For me that 2002-03 season was the worst ever. On Boxing Day Gary McAllister's side were sixth in the Championship & eyeing the play-offs. Their form fell off a cliff with only one win in 21 games but somehow they staggered to 50 points to finish 20th, four points clear of relegation. Goals were at a premium during the run – only 12 were scored in 21 – with players like Bothroyd, McSheffrey and McAllister all failing to net after Christmas. The team failed to score in the last five games and then started the next season with a 0-0 draw with Walsall.