Birmingham City lost ground on Championship leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers thanks to a goal by their former striker Clinton Morrison but were controversially denied an equaliser they probably deserved.
Morrison, who spent four years at St Andrew's under Steve Bruce, headed Coventry in front after 53 minutes. However, several Birmingham players were convinced they should have been awarded a goal seven minutes from time when Franck Queudrue's attempt to force the ball home from a scrambled corner seemed to be retrieved from behind the goal-line by Coventry goalkeeper Keiren Westwood.
Westwood, who had been Coventry's key player with a string of crucial saves, perhaps deserved the benefit of the doubt and there was clearly doubt in the minds of both the referee and his assistant, neither of whom had an unimpeded view. Even television replays failed to clear up the matter.
A number of Birmingham players pursued the linesman to complain, although their manager, Alex McLeish, accepted the verdict. "If the officials have not seen the ball cross the line they cannot give a goal," he said. "Had they given it and then been shown to be wrong it would have been a terrible decision.
"Some of my players clearly felt it was a goal but it was not given and we can only move on to the next game."
Not surprisingly, there was no argument, either, from the Coventry manager, Chris Coleman. "We have had a few decisions go against us in the last few games so I'm happy to accept one in our favour," he said.
It capped a frustrating night for the home side, who carved out numerous opportunities to score but lacked the killer touch in front of the goal and found Westwood, the goalkeeper whose impressive form for Carlisle last season earned him his move to the Championship, in inspired form.
The 23-year-old pulled off three excellent saves in the second half, keeping out headers from Liam Ridgewell and Radhi Jaidi as well as a dangerously swerving shot by James McFadden.
Coventry, who looked better than a team with one win from seven matches before last night, did not create so many chances as the home side but in Morrison had one player who was sharp enough when it mattered, hitting the bar in the first half before putting the finishing touch to a well rehearsed corner eight minutes into the second half, when Daniel Fox's ball to the near-edge of the six-yard box was flicked into the danger area by Guillaume Beuzelin.
They should have put the issue beyond doubt by scoring for a second time 13 minutes from the end, Jay Tabb missing an open goal after Beuzelin's backheel had wrongfooted the home defence.
Birmingham City (4-4-2): Taylor; Hunt, Jaidi, Ridgewell, Queudrue; Larsson, Carsley, Agustien, Jerome; Phillips, McFadden. Susbtitutes not used: C Doyle (gk), Taylor, Owusu-Abeyie, Quashie, Bent.
Coventry City (4-4-2): Westwood; Osbourne, Ward, Dann, Fox; Mifsud, Gunnarsson, Beuzelin, Tabb; Best, Morrison. Susbtitutes not used: Marshall (gk), Hall, M Doyle, Eastwood, Simpson.
Referee: A Bates (Staffordshire)