FORGET the notion of a game of two halves – for Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough this was a game of three thirds.
Unfortunately for him, while the first third was very good for the Blades, the second and third were poor.
Clough said: “First half an hour we were very good indeed, but I don’t know what happened in the last hour.
“It went as good as it could in the first 30 minutes and then went as poor as it could in the last 60. I don’t think there were many chances in the whole game, certainly we didn’t create many.
“We’re nowhere near a settled side.”
United enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges.
Jamie Murphy almost made the most of a mix-up between Jordan Willis and Ryan Allsop.
Michael Higdon then forced Allsop to make an excellent save after meeting Ben Davies’s deep cross towards the far post.
After Chris Basham received a 35th minute caution for a seemingly innocuous foul, Coventry began to take charge.
Mark Howard produced a fine save, groping Danny Swanson’s curling shot away to safety.
After the interval Coventry, and Jordan Clarke in particular, wasted some promising positions as United struggled to wrestle back the momentum they had enjoyed.
But, for the most part, the game simply drifted with Clough pacing his technical area trying to fathom how best to change the flow.
Robert Harris was cautioned for clipping Shaun Miller’s heels when he attempted to find a way through the visitors’ defence.
Then, in the 78th minute, an own goal from Harris gave Coventry the lead.
The Blades defender diverted the ball in as he tried to adjust his feet in an attempt to affect a clearance. United applied some pressure during four minutes of added time, but an equaliser proved elusive.
Coventry City: Allsop, Willis, Webster, Johnson, Clarke, Fleck (Thomas 84), Swanson (Daniels 75), O’Brien, Haynes, McQuoid (Miller 63), Tudgay. Unused substitutes: Burge, Coulibaly, Phillips, Finch.
Sheffield United: Howard, Davies, Alcock, McGahey, Harris, Scougall (Baxter 61), Basham, Reed (Doyle 71), Flynn (McEveley 61), Murphy, Higdon. Unused substitutes: Turner, McNulty, Collins, Campbell-Ryce.
Referee: G Scott (Oxfordshire).
Man of the match: Ben Davies.