Coventry City 2 Brighton 1

They say that fortune favours the brave and Micky Adams certainly got the reward for going all out for victory when it mattered most.

His decision to throw on three substitute strikers may not have yielded the winning goal - that came from the most unlikely of sources - but it did tip the balance in Coventry's favour at a vital stage.

Not that Adams could really lay any tactical claim for the winner. Steve Staunton is no longer known for his attacking forays but while his legs may betray his vintage, his left foot is as sweet as ever.

So, in a game that had to yield three points, Coventry were looking League One straight in the face when, with just six minutes remaining, Staunton moved forward, exchanged a couple of passes and then lined up a shot.

When it came, the shot seemed to take an age to reach the goal, struck a post and rolled over the line. The reaction around Highfield Road was like a step back in time when the club was fighting for survival among far more esteemed company.

The victory, however, sweet was far from straight-forward and, in isolation, will not be enough to save the City skins. It was the first home league win since December, but has to be followed by another when fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest visit on Wednesday.

The first half was forgettable in itself, but also faded quickly from the memory because the second period was so exciting. Just two minutes in, referee Mark Cowburn spotted some shirt tugging that clearly no one else - fans or players - saw inside the Brighton area and gave Gary McSheffrey the chance to score from the spot.

The striker showed his nerves through his choice of penalty - a blast straight into the middle of the goal which had the desired outcome.

But Brighton, who had enjoyed the better of the first half, clearly do not lack the stomach for a fight and they hit back 15 minutes later when Adam Virgo, created and scored and excellent goal to rock Coventry back.

That was the signal for Adams to go all out for the points. Not only was it brave, but it also removed possibly Coventry's two weakest players. Claus Jorgensen was nowhere near his normal form and looked far too timid at times, while debutant Lloyd Dyer - on loan from West Brom - had a debut so ineffective that he will want to forget it in a hurry.

Adams will no doubt have to assess if he can be so positive from the off against Forest but he will be sorely tempted.

The importance or otherwise of this result will only be clear come May and, as McSheffrey confirmed, Wednesday was on the players' minds the minute the final whistle sounded.

He said: "It was a great goal from Stan. It seemed to take ages to reach the line but it went in and it was a special feeling in the ground. I have no idea what their penalty was given for but I wasn't going to argue.

"It ran through my mind that I had missed penalty in the last home game, at the same time and when the scores were level so I just smashed and the place erupted."

Scorers: McSheffrey (pen, 46) 1-0; Virgo (62) 1-1; Staunton (86) 2-1.

COVENTRY CITY (4-4-2): Steele; Duffy, Page, Staunton, Hall; Jorgensen (Morrell, 79), Doyle, Hughes, Dyer, 7 (Adebola, 68); Goater (Benjamin, 79) McSheffrey. Subs: Pressman, Whing.

BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION (4-4-2): Blayney; Reid, Dolan, Butters, Harding (Jones, 85); Hart, Hammond, Oatway, Knight; McCammon (McPhee, 75), Virgo. Subs: Shaaban, Nicolas, Elphick.

Referee: M Cowburn (Lancashire). Bookings: Coventry - Doyle (foul); Brighton - McCammon, Virgo (fouls).

Attendance: 18,606.

Coventry man of the match: Stephen Hughes - excellent midfield performance.