The CBS Arena witnessed only its second goalless draw of the season

Coventry City failed to register an effort on target at the CBS Arena as they were held to a goalless draw by Middlesbrough in the Championship play-off semi-final first leg.

Michael Carrick’s Boro were the greater threat in a tense but poor contest.

They came closest to scoring when Chuba Akpom and Isaiah Jones brought first-half saves from keeper Ben Wilson.

Mark Robins’ side will need to improve in Wednesday’s second leg at the Riverside Stadium.

The Championship’s two top scorers, 29-goal Akpom and City’s 21-goal striker Viktor Gyokeres, managed just one effort on target effort between them, when Wilson touched the Middlesbrough forward’s shot on to the bar.

Riley McGree set up Akpom inside the box, but his right-foot shot was not quite powerful enough to beat Wilson.

Wilson then had to be alert again at his near post to save bravely from Jones after a misplaced Callum Doyle pass had been cut out.

But the nearest either goal came to be threatened after that was Paddy McNair’s in-swinging corner in injury-time, which missed Wilson’s left post by mere inches.

Stakes high for Coventry and Boro

The tension of the occasion on a very pleasant sunny Sunday lunchtime in Coventry was down to the size of the stakes on offer for Coventry and Boro.

Coventry have not played Premier League football since their 34-year-long stay in the top flight ended under Gordon Strachan in 2001 – and this is comfortably the closest they have come to getting back there.

Their story over the past decade in particular has been all the more remarkable – two more relegations, two changes of owner, two stadium moves and a problematic groundshare with rugby club Wasps.

But their six years since boss Robins came back to the club have helped put things right on the pitch, despite ongoing issues off it.

Boro, by contrast, have been exiled from the top flight for only six years. But they too have been back on an upward curve since Carrick arrived on Teesside in late October.

When Coventry won 1-0 at home to Boro early in the season, both teams were in the bottom three.

But since then, Carrick’s side have had the best record in the Championship – better even than champions Burnley and good enough to lift them from 21st to fourth, five points better off than Coventry, who themselves came from even further back, having at one stage been bottom.

With either Sunderland or Luton waiting in the final, this tie could not be more in the balance when the two teams line up again in midweek.



Formation 3-5-2

  • 13Wilson
  • 16McNally
  • 5McFadzean
  • 3Doyle
  • 7Norton-Cuffy
  • 28EcclesSubstituted forAllenat 66′minutes
  • 6Kelly
  • 38Hamer
  • 27Bidwell
  • 17Gyökeres
  • 24Godden


  • 1Moore
  • 2Panzo
  • 8Allen
  • 11Wilson-Esbrand
  • 14Sheaf
  • 18Maguire
  • 23Dabo


Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Steffen
  • 14Smith
  • 17McNair
  • 26Lenihan
  • 3Giles
  • 30Hackney
  • 4Mowatt
  • 2JonesSubstituted forForssat 68′minutes
  • 29AkpomBooked at 79mins
  • 8McGree
  • 10ArcherSubstituted forCrooksat 83′minutes


  • 6Fry
  • 7Barlaser
  • 15Dijksteel
  • 21Forss
  • 23Roberts
  • 25Crooks
  • 27Bola

Robert Madley


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