Irish captain leads Coventry to League Two play-off final victory

Coventry have begun their rise back up the Football League pyramid by claiming a 3-1 League Two play-off final victory over Exeter.

The Sky Blues, gripped by off-field issues, have been on the wane since the heady days of being a Premier League club, but they returned to League One at the first attempt thanks to second-half goals from Jordan Willis, Jordan Shipley and Jack Grimmer.

Captained by Dubliner Michael Doyle, the win at Wembley means Mark Robins, in his second spell in charge, is the first Coventry manager to win a promotion since 1967 when Jimmy Hill took them to the top tier.

Coventry City's Michael Doyle and Exeter City's Hiram Boateng battle for the ball at Wembley Stadium. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA

For Exeter, it is more play-off heartbreak as they lose in the final for a second successive year following defeat to Blackpool 12 months ago, though they were never really in this encounter and only had a late Kyle Edwards effort to show for their efforts.

Such an emphatic scoreline did not seem possible after a drab opening 45 minutes that barely recorded any highlights.

Coventry were the better team and Shipley twice had efforts, his first was deflected wide and his second went off target.

The second half needed only four minutes to be a vast improvement on the first and Robins' men had the game done and dusted with a three-goal blast in 19 minutes.

The first goal was a thing of beauty as well, as Willis belied his position as a defender to cut inside and curl a 20-yard effort into the far corner.

A decisive second came five minutes later as the Sky Blues made a quick break and Marc McNulty fed Shipley, whose first-time effort was deflected over goalkeeper Christy Pym.

Kicking towards an army of Sky Blues fans, they wrapped up the game in the 68th minute with another delicious goal, Grimmer emulating Willis but from the other side as his left-footed effort went sailing into the top corner.

Exeter were down and out, but tried to at least give their fans something to cheer about and Ryan Harley brought a good save out of Lee Burge before Matt Jay hit the post with a 25-yard shot that had Burge beaten.

Coventry, famous winners at the old Wembley in the 1987 FA Cup final, could have made the scoreline even more handsome, but Pym made a fine save to deny Tom Bayliss after a weaving run and Jonson Clarke-Harris put a low effort wide.

The Grecians finally did get on the scoresheet in the 89th minute when Edwards also produced an accomplished finish to curl into the bottom corner.

They were left with too much to do, though, and it was Coventry who were left to enjoy the unfamiliar taste of promotion.

- PA


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