Mark Robins bursting with pride as Coventry City miss out by a 'toenail'

Mark Robins spoke of his immense pride after seeing his Coventry City side go 'toe-to-toe' with his former club Manchester United in a sensational FA Cup semi-final in which the Sky Blues missed out, he said, by a 'toenail.'

That toenail belonged to Haji Wright who was deemed a fraction off-side when he played the ball in to Victor Torp in virtually the last minute of extra-time for what the stadium thought was the winning goal from open play after the Championship club had battled back from 3-0 down to 3-3.

Sadly for City, United went on to book their place in the final in a 4-2 penalty shootout win, but speaking after the match, Robins said: “I am proud of everything they have done. The support was absolutely fantastic because if it had been the other way around I don’t think it would have been the same (from United fans). It was a great atmosphere and I went through a whole range of emotions, that’s for sure.

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“Any given day when we can perform like that – we performed like Manchester United for that last hour – and that’s what I am proud of; the quality that we showed and the courage we showed on the ball to play through them, playing round them and getting good quality in the box and creating chances. If Torp’s shot had gone in from the Onana save, that would have been special.”

United led 2-0 at the break through first half goals from Scott McTominay and Harry Maguire before Bruno Fernandes added a third before the hour. But Ellis Simms pulled one back ahead of a deflected effort from Callum O’Hare before Wright slotted home the equaliser from the penalty spot to take the tie into extra-time.

Reflecting on the course of the game, the manager added: “When we were looking at United, they have got some top players who are blistering on the counter attack, so you have to be careful that you don’t open up too soon because they can kill your confidence for the rest of the game, so we had to be a little bit careful to block spaces.

“I thought that we did that to a degree but we didn’t participate in the game as an attacking force for the first half really. You know you have to stay in the game and then you can make changes afterwards.

“We conceded the first one and then to concede the second one like we did was really poor before half-time, and that was just people switching off and not doing their jobs at a time when we were only just coming to terms with the game.

“We conceded a third goal and at 3-0 down we started to play a bit, but it’s easy to do when you’re 3-0 down. That’s what my managers used to say to me. But we ended up getting a really good goal from Ellis Simms, which looked like it would be a consolation. But the second one that Callum O’Hare hit and looped up over the keeper off Wan-Bissaka’s shoulder and that just got everyone’s tails up.

“United started to look leggy and we tried to exploit that and ended up getting the penalty to take it to 3-3 and that’s when it started to get really interesting. They hit the bar, we hit the bar and we scored the goal that was given off-side for a toenail, and that was disappointing. “And psychologically it may have had an impact because we were 20 seconds away from going to an FA Cup final and then 30 seconds later we were in a penalty shootout, and that can put you on the back foot a little bit.

“But there’s no criticism with anyone who shows the courage to pick up the ball and take a penalty in that cauldron, but it was what it was and is what it is and we have to move on. I am just really proud of everyone, the players, staff and the fans who were absolutely outstanding. This FA Cup run will be talked about, certainly in Coventry City circles, for a long, long time.

“So whilst I am disappointed for everyone, we can’t be too down hearted because we have gone toe-to-toe with Manchester United, been 3-0 down and come back to 3-3 and almost won it with a fourth before losing out in a penalty shootout, which can happen, as we know.”

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