By John Wilkinson, Coventry Telegraph.
March 4 2013
AN ALL too familiar story for Coventry as, for the second game running and the second time this season against Fylde, their hearts were broken right at the death.
An injury-time drop goal from Chris Johnson gave Fylde victory by the narrowest of margins, leaving Cov to again reflect on one that got away in somewhat debatable circumstances.
And it was particularly cruel this time after the effort they produced following the dismissal of skipper Scott Morgan for his reaction to an incident which led to a yellow card Fylde second row Paul Arnold.
It happened at a time when Cov were getting themselves back into the game after conceding two tries in the opening quarter, and while both were a man down it was the home side who had the upper hand, coming back to go 18-14 up just as Arnold returned.
The hosts remained on top after the break, continuing to hold a clear edge in the scrum with centre Heath Stevens joining the back row on Cov’s put in and stretching their lead to 23-14.
But with Cliffie Hodgson – so often the match-winner – misfiring off the kicking tee, Cov missed the chance to put the game firmly to bed and, almost inevitably, their monumental effort took its toll and Fylde made the extra man count with a converted try ten minutes from the end of normal time before Johnson’s last-gasp winner.
The penalty that gave Fylde the field position for that final assault was questionable – the visitors appearing to be the offenders rather than the offended, but the decision going their way.
And that wasn’t the end of the talking points as, with advantage called, Hodgson went for a drop goal in an attempt to retrieve the situation only for the referee to then call ‘advantage over’ as the kick fell short.
It just wasn’t meant to be Cov’s day.
Hodgson opened the scoring with a penalty but Fylde soon showed their willingness to run the ball from all areas of the field and winger Oli Brennand ran in from 60 metres without a hand laid on him for their opening try.
Ryan de la Harpe added a second ten minutes later as Fylde showed their off-loading ability, and with Johnson converting both, the visitors had a 14-3 lead.
Cov claimed a foothold when Stevens muscled his way over for a try which Hodgson converted before adding a second penalty, but the No.10 chalked up his first miss after Cov’s scrum power had secured a penalty before mishitting his conversion attempt after forward pressure led to Lewis Barker jinking over for a try.