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Checkatrade Trophy

Checktrade Trophy: Mark Robins delighted; Michael Appleton frustrated

2 April 2017

Thirty years on from their finest hour and 27 days after Mark Robins returned to manage the Sky Blues, Coventry City supporters were again looking over at the Royal Box.

This time it was with huge pride and great delight as local lad Jordan Willis hoisted the Checkatrade Trophy aloft.

A jubilant Robins watched on from the back of the line as his young squad celebrated, for most, their first honour in the professional game.

For the 47-year-old, it was the first of his managerial career – to add to the five he won as a player with Manchester United and Leicester City.

“That surpasses everything,” reflected Robins on where the achievement sits on his CV. “The experience was just phenomenal; I've not experienced that as a manager before.

“The preparation was so important for everything today to go right and according to plan. The confidence had been lacking a little bit when I came in, so to see that performance, at Wembley, in front of 74,000 supporters – 45,000 of which were ours - was really good.

“Whenever we picked the ball up, our supporters just grew out of their seats and the noise was tremendous, and likewise for them. Oxford are a really good side, they are on the upward curve and Appy [Michael Appleton] has done a fantastic job with them; they play some good stuff.

Cheered on by more than half of the highest gate at the new Wembley for this competition, Robins was keen to acknowledge the contribution the loyal Sky Blues supporters had made on another breath-taking afternoon in the club's 133-year history.

Read more: Click here to read about a record-breaking attendance at the Checkatrade Trophy Final

“The amount of passion that was there, the amount of supporters that turned up, it was just a great day and the win was all for them and the players,” he added. “It means everything to the supporters. It is 30 years since they have been to Wembley and won and it was really important for us as a football club to show the world we are still alive and kicking.

“It gives everybody that reminder that we have a really good fanbase and [that] there is so much potential at this place. We have got to harness it, and move forward with it. Whatever that looks like in the future – we have to make sure it is the best it can be for Coventry City Football Club and the supporters are a massive part of that.”

For their counterparts from Oxford, it was another disappointing day in the capital as they looked on for a second season as the U's were defeated in the final by one-goal.

Leaving themselves too much to do in the final 15 minutes – just as they had 12 months ago against Barnsley – was something that manager, Michael Appleton, was left to rue.

“The feeling, you can probably imagine, is of real frustration,” he said. “The game was probably decided in both boxes today. Coventry had a hunger and a desire to keep the ball out of the net more than we did.

“When you need to win finals, that's the type of desire you need. They had it in abundance today; they were putting their bodies on the line and making sure they were hard to beat. They weren't going to concede a goal easily. There is more than one way of winning a game of football and it's not just when the ball is at your feet. You've still got to do the other side of it.

“We have had a few occasions this year when we have got ourselves into positions, where we have had an opportunity to kick on and this reminds me of that a little bit.

“Hopefully, we can surprise a few people on Wednesday [at home to Fleetwood], go and win the game and then there will be people thinking we've still got an outside chance of the play-offs, and my question will keep coming back to whether, in those big moments in big games, we can do more positive things. That is yet to be seen with this group.”

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