Stoke City 1 Coventry City 3: 'Messi of Malta' injects pace into Coventry's promotion push

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The Independent Football

The impact of Maltese football on the major leagues of Europe is about as big as Michael Mifsud is in stature, which is not very big at all.

However, the 5ft 4in Coventry City striker, nicknamed "The Messi of Malta", is quickly becoming his country's greatest footballing export. The 26-year-old scored his ninth and 10th goals of the season in his side's impressive away victory at Stoke, which put Coventry on the verge of the play-off spots.

The buoyant atmosphere around the Sky Blues was further heightened by the belief that a takeover of the club will be completed in the coming weeks, with a consortium headed by the former Manchester City defender Ray Ranson believed to be the favourite of two possible bids. Any takeover would also end the Football League's recently imposed transfer embargo on the club.

"For this club to move forward we need some investment," said Coventry's assistant manager, Tim Flowers. "So, hopefully, someone will come in and give Iain [Dowie] a chance to go into the marketplace."

Flowers also paid tribute to his Maltese striker, whose stock has been rising ever since his two goals at Old Trafford in September knocked Manchester United out of the Carling Cup.

"Michael Mifsud has what defenders hate – raw, blistering pace. If he gets behind you, you're not getting back to him. He's making a real name for himself."

Mifsud's two goals on Saturday lifted an otherwise drab affair. A 20-yard volley opened the scoring after 58 minutes, before Dele Adebola put Coventry two up. Liam Lawrence's penalty briefly gave Stoke some hope, before Michael Doyle's pass found Mifsud's clever diagonal run and the striker finished brilliantly.

Goals: Mifsud (58) 0-1; Adebola (63) 0-2; Lawrence pen (72) 1-2; Mifsud (79) 1-3.

Stoke City (4-4-2): Simonsen; Wright (Parkin, 66), Cort, Shawcross, Wilkinson; Lawrence, Eustace, Delap, Pugh (Dickinson, 90); Cresswell, Fuller. Substitutes not used: Hoult (gk), Zakuani, Pericard.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Konstantopoulos; McNamee, De Zeeuw, Turner, Hall; Simpson (Adebola, 37), Osbourne, Doyle, Tabb; Best (Kyle, 81), Mifsud. Substitutes not used: Ward, Hughes, Cairo.

Referee: A Marriner (W Midlands).

Booked: Stoke Wright, Eustace, Lawrence, Fuller, Wilkinson; Coventry Best, Turner.

Man of the match: Mifsud.

Attendance: 13,448.

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