Exeter City face Coventry City on bank holiday Monday, May 28 in the Play-Off Final, battling it out for the right to play League One football next season.
Their second successive season appearing at the home of football, the Grecians lost narrowly to Blackpool in last season’s final and will be hoping to go one better this time out.
A Short History of Coventry City
Founded as Singers F.C. in 1883 by members of a local cycling manufacturer, the club would not change its name to Coventry City until 1898.
Having played their games at a number of grounds, the club moved into Highfield Road the following year, where they would remain for over a century before moving into their current home, the Ricoh Arena, in 2005.
In 1919, the Sky Blues were elected into the Football League, a status that, bar a few close scrapes during the 1920s, they have retained ever since. Although they were operating on a shoestring budget during the 1930s, City built a side that looked destined for the top flight. However, with the advent of the Second World War, their dreams of the promised land were put on hold.
The immediate post war period was tough on the club, seeing them drop into Division Three, and then Division Four during the 1950s. However, the arrival of the late Jimmy Hill as chairman in 1961 heralded a new era at Highfield Road. Rapidly reversing their fortunes, he was a modernising influence, ultimately leading them into the top flight in 1967.
Although it took a couple of seasons to adjust to the pace, Coventry finished sixth in 1969/70, qualifying for the European Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, the then equivalent of the Europa League. Having reached the second round of the competition, they hosted German super-club, Bayern Munich. Having lost heavily away in Bavaria, the Sky Blues famously beat them 2-1 at home in the second leg, bowing out 8-2 on aggregate.
However, the proudest moment in the club’s history came in 1987, when the unfancied Sky Blues beat a Tottenham Hotspur side, including the likes of Ray Clemence, Glenn Hoddle and Chris Waddle, 3-2 to clinch the FA Cup at Wembley. Interestingly, they are one of only five clubs to have won the FA Cup and the FA Youth Cup in the same season.
A top-flight club for the remainder of the century, Coventry were inaugural members of the Premier League when it was founded in 1992. They were finally relegated in 2001, ending an impressive 34-year stay at football’s top table.
Unfortunately, the club never managed to bounce back, remaining in the Championship until 2012, when they were relegated to League One, dropping down another division last time out.
Season So Far
This season marks the club’s first in the fourth tier of English football since 1959. However, their relegation notwithstanding, the campaign did contain one bright spot, with the club lifting the Checkatrade Trophy at Wembley to claim their first major trophy in thirty years.
Well backed by the bookies to make a swift return to League One, Mark Robins’ men have enjoyed a successful season, winning 22 of their 46 league games to earn themselves a sixth-placed finish. To their fan’s delight, this ended their unwanted record of never finishing in the top-six of any division since 1970.
Their impressive form extended into the FA Cup, with the Sky Blues battling into the fifth round, dispatching Premier League side Stoke City along the way.
Key Season Stats
Ones to Watch
2 | Defender | Jack Grimmer (Age 23)
A tenacious, ball-playing right back, Grimmer came up through the ranks at his hometown club, Aberdeen. He made his senior bow in 2010, becoming the Dons youngest ever player at the age of just sixteen and two months. He arrived in England four years later, joining Fulham. However, unable to break into the first team, he has spent much of his recent career on loan with Port Vale and Shrewsbury Town.
A former Scotland youth international, Grimmer joined the Coventry over the summer and earned the adoration of the Sky Blues’ faithful with a stunning long-range strike in the FA Cup against Stoke City in January. Grimmer’s impressive season was capped off last month when he was named in League Two’s Team of the Season for 2017/18.
10 | Forward Marc McNulty (Age 25)
Born in Edinburgh, McNulty spent his youth career on the books at Celtic, Hibernian and Livingstone, scoring on his debut for the latter in 2009. With injury slowing his early development, he first rose to prominence in 2011/12, netting sixteen goals in all competitions. He would go on to score an impressive forty-eight goals in 122 appearances for Livi, before moving South of the border to join Sheffield United in 2014.
However, after a solid first season, he struggled for first team action, prompting a loan spell at Portsmouth. Playing alongside current teammate Michael Doyle, he top scored for Pompey, netting twelve goals as they reached the League Two Play Offs. A further spell away from Bramall Lane followed, with McNulty joining Bradford City last season, before ultimately sealing a permanent move to the Ricoh in May. Since joining the Sky Blues, he has been in talismanic form, netting twenty-eight goals and contributing eight assists to fire Coventry into the Play-Off spots.
Last Time Out
From their two league meetings this season, Exeter and Coventry have emerged with one win each.
They first met way back in late September, with the Sky Blues handing the Grecians their first defeat of the season, courtesy of a Troy Brown own-goal supplemented by a strike from Devon Kelly-Evans.
Their second encounter was a similarly tight affair at St James Park. Exeter went ahead in the seventh minute after a misguided clearance fell at the feet of Ryan Harley, twenty-five yards out. In spite of a spirited fight back, which included twenty shots on goal, the Grecians held on to take all three points.
Tickets are on general sale for the match on Monday, May 28, 3pm kick-off and are being sold directly through Ticket Zone. Please click here to find out more.
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