Coventry City 2 Colchester United 1: John stays in control to elevate Coventry into top-half status

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The Independent Football

The consistency of form needed to mount a serious promotion challenge still eludes Coventry but goals from Stern John and Michael Doyle at a half-empty Ricoh Arena at least enabled them to climb back into the top half of the Championship table.

Last night's crowd was the smallest since Coventry moved to their new home at the start of last season. Those who did turn up witnessed John's fourth goal of the current campaign just before half-time, with Doyle adding to it midway through the second half.

Jamie Guy gave the visitors renewed hope with a goal in the last six minutes.

The Coventry manager, Micky Adams, had solved the crisis created by injuries to both his first-choice fullbacks by signing Sunderland's Clive Clarke and Portsmouth's Richard Duffy on loan but needed to address another after seeing his side's progress undermined by three defeats in four matches.

Their mini-slump had coincided with a significant improvement from their newly-promoted opponents and Adams was relieved to see the result go in his favour.

"Our home form is going to be vital and it was important we got back on track tonight," he said.

The darting runs of Leon McKenzie along the left flank just about shaded the opening half for Coventry and John should have made more of Coventry's first clear chance after McKenzie had burst between two defenders and cut back an inviting pass. The striker spooned his shot over the bar.

When a second opportunity fell to John just before half-time, however, the Trinidad & Tobago frontman made up for his earlier miss, running on to Colin Cameron's through pass to stroke a left-foot shot beyond the reach of goalkeeper Aidan Davison.

Despite the disruption caused by first-half injuries to midfielders Kevin Watson and Richard Garcia, Colchester mounted a positive response and it took some strong defending from Robert Page and Elliott Ward to keep the menacing Jamie Cureton at a safe distance from Andy Marshall's goal.

The points looked safe for Coventry by the midway point of the second half when John controlled the ball superbly in a crowded penalty area before unselfishly squaring to the unmarked Doyle, who coolly slotted the ball inside the right post from eight yards. It was Doyle's first goal for 18 months.

Colchester looked dangerous on the counter, spurred by just one defeat in their last eight games. They gained a late fillip when Guy broke through to drill home an excellent goal - but the home side survived a tricky finale to hang on to their reward.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Marshall; Duffy, Page, Ward, Clarke; Cameron (Birchall, 88), Hughes, Doyle, McKenzie (Tabb, 86); Kyle, John (Hutchison, 88). Substitutes not used: Adebola, Heath.

Colchester United (4-4-2): Davison; Halford, Baldwin, Brown, Barker; Garcia (McLeod, 40), Watson (Jackson, 29), Izzet, Duguid; Cureton, Iwelumo (Guy, 80). Substitutes not used: Gerken (gk), White.

Referee: M Pike (Cumbria).