Sky Blues on the edge: a history of last-day escapes

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The Independent Online
1967-68: Coventry's first season in the top division ended with survival after a 0-0 draw at Southampton, Noel Cantwell steering them to safety after the October departure of Jimmy Hill from the managerial chair. Sheffield United, defeated by Chelsea, went down instead.

1968-69: After finishing their League programme early, Coventry, who had beaten Manchester United, the European Cup holders, in April, knew they would be relegated should Leicester City defeat United on the final weekend. United won 3-2 and Leicester fell through the trapdoor.

1976-77: The most controversial escape. Coventry, under Gordon Milne, and Bristol City faced each other in the final relegation decider. A draw would save both only if Sunderland lost the same night at Everton. The kick-off was delayed, supposedly because of congestion as 37,000 fans squeezed into Highfield Road. With Coventry struggling to hold on to a 2-2 draw, managing-director Jimmy Hill had the news of Sunderland's defeat flashed up on the scoreboard. For the last five minutes the teams played keep-ball to the cheers of the crowd. Sunderland's protest to the League fell on deaf ears.

1980-81: Coventry, with Milne still manager, avoided the possibility of relegation with a 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest. Garry Thompson, now on the coaching staff at Northampton, scored the vital goal.

1983-84: Bobby Gould was now in charge and Coventry needed to win last game at home to Norwich City. The omens were not good, Coventry having conceded 19 goals in the previous four games. They went one down, came back to lead 2-1, but were almost sunk when Robert Rosario hit the inside of the post with two minutes to go. Dave Bennett scored the Coventry winner. Birmingham City went down instead.

1984-85: Norwich finished their programme eight points clear of Coventry who had to win all of their last three games to stay up. Don Mackay, who had replaced Gould in December, saw his team win 1-0 at Stoke (Ian Painter missed a late penalty for Stoke), beat Luton 1-0 and then crush champions Everton 4-1 - on 26 May (Alex Ferguson eat your heart out). The Merseysiders have been in Norwich's bad books ever since.

1985-86: For the third year running, a last-match win at home - beating QPR 2-1 - kept Coventry, now managed by George Curtis, in the top flight. Bennett again got the winner.

1991-92: Coventry needed a point from what proved to be Don Howe's last match as manager, but lost 2-0 at Aston Villa after going behind in just 20 seconds. Fate rested on Luton going down at Notts County. Luton scored first, but Rob Matthews struck twice to save Coventry's skin.

1995-96: Coventry, Southampton and Manchester City went into their final games level on points. Each was at home and each drew, Coventry fighting out a nervous goalless draw with a Leeds side who included the Sky Blues present captain, Garry McAllister. Manchester City went down because they had the worst goal difference, Alan Ball having erroneously told his players to play for time when they drew level at 2-2 with Liverpool.

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