Sparkling farewell gives hope to Adams hope

Coventry City 6 - Derby County 2
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The Independent Football

"Is the Ricoh Arena going to be big enough for us?" asked a voice from the delirious throng. Well, if you can't be optimistic at the last game at a 106-year-old ground....

"Is the Ricoh Arena going to be big enough for us?" asked a voice from the delirious throng. Well, if you can't be optimistic at the last game at a 106-year-old ground....

For a club who turned last-ditch rescue acts into an art form during 34 top-flight years, Coventry City eventually made remarkably short work of surviving their latest flirt with relegation a division lower down.

By scoring four goals in the first half and equally sharing four more in the second, they emphatically ensured safety and left Derby County a little less sure about the play-off campaign still almost certainly awaiting them.

In decades to come, when we check our match-day programmes via some tiny microchip, there - added to the list of greatest Coventry games that appeared in Saturday's £6 printed version - will be this one.

It was very much an "I was there" afternoon for supporters who had not dared consider the crippling consequences of embracing the drop and a £113m, 32,000-seat new stadium this summer.

The Coventry manager, Micky Adams, switched from public celebration to detached realism within minutes of the whistle blowing on his club's inspired performance and first six-goal home League haul for 23 years. "Leicester enjoyed the benefits of a new stadium while I was manager and I think it improves your football club," he said.

"Win games early doors and you retain those extra fans. Otherwise, you lose them."

Derby, woeful defensively here, were in the Premiership when they moved home eight years ago. They, Middlesbrough, South-ampton, Sunderland, Reading and Leicester have established strong new support to put down a marker Coventry will find encouraging. Maybe Adams was not going over the top by saying, although 14 first-team squad members are out of contract in the close season, that he hopes his side will be challenging for promotion in 12 months.

It will take a nightmare combination of last-day results - more than just a Preston North End victory at Pride Park - to deny Derby a top-six finish, and George Burley refuses to be downbeat after the jolt of two successive defeats.

After Andrew Whing had spectacularly denied Derby substitute Paul Peschisolido the honour of scoring Highfield Road's last goal, Burley said: "Last season, we had 52 points. This time, we have 73, deservedly so, and I'd rather be in our position than Coventry's or Leicester's."

Goals: McSheffrey (20) 1-0; McSheffrey (28pen) 2-0; Adebola (37) 3-0; John (40) 4-0; Bolder (51) 4-1; John (55) 5-1; Peschisolido (62) 5-2; Whing (69) 6-2.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Steele; Duffy, Page, Staunton, Hall; McSheffrey (Morrell, 78), Jorgensen (Whing, 68), Hughes, Doyle; John, Adebola (Benjamin, 72). Substitutes not used: Pressman (gk), Goater.

Derby County (4-4-2): Camp; Kenna, Konjic, Johnson, Makin; Bisgaard, Bolder, Taylor (Peschisolido, 30), Idiakez; Smith, Tudgay (Junior, 67). Substitutes not used: Miller (gk), Jackson, Huddlestone.

Referee: M Fletcher (Worcestershire).

Bookings: Coventry: Benjamin. Derby: Konjic, Johnson, Idiakez.

Man of the match: McSheffrey.

Attendance: 22,728.

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