Queens Park Rangers 0 Coventry City 1
At 2pm on Saturday, Coventry’s chances of claiming a fourth away win of the season looked to have come off the rails before a ball was even kicked.
Manager Micky Adams, his staff and his players were, at that point, walking from Shepherd’s Bush Tube station to Loftus Road after their preparations had gone comically wrong. The team bus had got stuck in England rugby traffic on the way back to the hotel where the team had been having their pre-match meal.
Adams and his staff didn’t want to be late for the game so opted to take the Underground but stopped off a station too early and ended up with a mile’s walk to the ground — rubbing shoulders with Queens Park Rangers fans.
But, by 5pm, a ride on the train and a mini sightseeing tour of West London looked like the ideal way to get Coventry minds focused on the job in hand.
Adams’s team turned in one of their best performances of the season and ended up more than deserving winners thanks a goal early in the second half from Dele Adebola.
The Coventry manager said: "All our usual talk about preparation needing to be right was proved to be a load of old nonsense.
"It was certainly an eventful journey and I didn’t imagine I would be buying 23 tube tickets for the players and the staff.
"The players could have easily made an excuse of it but instead went out and delivered a very good performance."
Whether the whole experience acted as a way of relaxing the players ahead of a tricky-looking fixture will never be known, but few expected Coventry to take the game to John Gregory’s rejuvenated Rangers as they did.
For long periods of the match it was Rangers who were on the back foot as the Sky Blues, who have not been renowned for creating too many chances this season, carved a number of promising openings.
Darren Currie, who signed on-loan from Ipswich in midweek, provided a number of dangerous crosses early on and lived up to his reputation as a master from set-pieces.
But it was Adebola and Leon McKenzie who provided the biggest threat as, time and again, they dragged Rangers' central defenders all over the place and looked to have the beating of them from the first whistle.
McKenzie almost latched on to a Currie cross early on but was just a split second too late to react while Adebola saw a snap shot saved by Simon Royce.
The former Blues striker also set up Colin Cameron for the best chance of the opening period but the midfielder snatched at his shot from six yards.
The big danger for Coventry was that they might be punished for the wasted opportunities but although the hosts raised their game towards the end of the first half, goalkeeper Andy Marshall was only forced into routine saves.
The Sky Blues began the second half just as they had the first and McKenzie could have given them the lead two minutes after the restart but fired wide after creating space for himself in the box.
But Adebola made no mistake less than 60 seconds later when he rolled his man expertly on the edge of the box before cracking ther ball past Royce.
Adams’s men did have further chances to seal the points but Rangers built up a head of steam as they took more and more risks as they went in search of a point.
QUEENS PARK RANGERS (4-4-2): Royce; Mancienne, Rehman, Stewart, Bignot; N Ward, Bailey (Rowlands, 56), Smith, Cook; Blackstock (Jones, 44), Nygaard (Gallen, 56). Subs: Thomas, Milanese.
COVENTRY CITY (4-4-2): Marshall; Duffy, Page, Ward, Hall; Cameron, Clarke, Doyle, Currie (Kyle, 84); Adebola, McKenzie. Subs: Gonzalez, Birchall, Bischoff, Tabb.
Referee: C Penton (Sussex).
Bookings: Queens Park Rangers — N Ward (foul); Coventry — Duffy, Hall (fouls), Kyle (time-wasting).