Callum O’Hare scored his first goals since April 2022 as Coventry comfortably beat Birmingham 2-0 at the Coventry Building Society Arena on Friday night.
On his second start of the season, the 25-year-old – who was sidelined for 10 months until October by a serious knee injury – rifled in his first after half an hour and shuffled across the box to smash in a second to add the gloss with 13 minutes of the 90 to play.
The result marked Birmingham’s eighth straight league defeat on the road and also Wayne Rooney’s sixth defeat in nine games since replacing John Eustace as Blues boss just shy of two months ago.
They drop to 16th as a result, while Coventry climb to 14th, two points off the top half and five points outside the play-off places ahead of the remainder of the weekend’s action.
Rooney’s record since taking over at Birmingham
- Middlesbrough 1-0 Birmingham – October 21
- Birmingham 0-2 Hull – October 25
- Southampton 3-1 Birmingham – October 28
- Birmingham 2-2 Ipswich – November 4
- Sunderland 3-1 Birmingham – November 11
- Birmingham 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday – November 25
- Blackburn 4-2 Birmingham – November 29
- Birmingham 0-0 Rotherham – December 2
- Coventry 2-0 Birmingham – December 8
O’Hare’s double earns Sky Blues deserved victory
It took a while for the game to warm up on a chilly night in CV6. Coventry dominated the ball early on, but struggled for shots, while Birmingham managed efforts on target through Krystian Bielik and Juninho Bacuna, both of which were straight at Brad Collins.
O’Hare was soon right at the heart of everything the Sky Blues created going forward. His cute exchange of passes with Ben Sheaf saw the latter force a strong block from Marc Roberts, before his powerful connection on Milan van Ewijk’s cross stung John Ruddy’s palms.
On the half-hour, he scored his long-awaited first goal when he received the ball from the impressive Tatsuhiro Sakamoto after a quick turnover and powered a shot through a crowd and beyond Ruddy. The relief and jubilation he felt in that moment was made abundantly clear by the celebration that followed.
Less than 10 minutes later, Coventry appealed for a penalty after a loose ball appeared to strike the arm of Koji Miyoshi as he leaned in to attempt to control the ball with his chest. Referee Sam Allison was not interested, however.
Birmingham thought they had a similar case early on in the second half when Siriki Dembele went down in the box, yet he was in fact shown a yellow card for simulation after going down dramatically when Bobby Thomas made a run across his path, despite no contact being made.
Ruddy was called into action to make three relatively routine saves from Haji Wright, before he tipped over a swirling free-kick hit by Van Ewijk from deep. As Coventry struggled to convert the numerous chances they created, it seemed as though the door was open for a Birmingham equaliser, but there was never enough conviction in the final third.
And so Coventry eventually made sure of the win after 77 minutes, when O’Hare seized control of the ball after a pair of team-mates struggled to connect with Van Ewijk’s cross, made several steps to his right unchallenged and leathered into the roof of the net.
Player of the match – Callum O’Hare
Coventry’s Mark Robins:
“I’m absolutely delighted for him [O’Hare]. I thought he was really good, some of the football we played with him being the conduit was really clever and everybody wants to get involved. There was some really good football and the goals that he scored were fantastic. If he keeps that calm head there’s no reason to put any sort of pressure on him, he knows what he’s doing. He’s had some time out to reflect and look at how he goes about things but his character and his personality, he’s just an effervescent character that lifts everybody on a daily basis.
“I’m delighted with the win and the performance, it’s a derby game and sometimes things go for you, sometimes they don’t, you’re never going to get it all your own way but I think we got the majority of it our way and that was because of the performance of the players. The lads have done really well, we had more chances to convert. Some of the football was brilliant and the two goals we got were outstanding. When we had to defend we defended really well, Brad (Collins) has made a couple of good saves, we defended the corners and I’m delighted with the three points.”
Birmingham’s Wayne Rooney:
“I thought we started the game quite bright but the decision-making wasn’t the best. It was something we’ve been working on, playing in the opposition’s half and trying to create better chances. That needs to be better from us. The first goal is a poor goal from our point of view. I felt like we were still in the game, we were trying to get an equaliser and they get the second goal from our corner. We’re getting punished when we make mistakes and ultimately we need to cut
that out, but throughout the 90 minutes Coventry deserved to win, they were the better team.
“We let ourselves down with the goals we conceded and that’s my responsibility, it’s my job to get the players performing better and picking up more points than we have done, we’re working extremely hard to try and do that. We’re in a difficult place, we know we are, with the run of results, the points we’re losing and the big thing is the goals we are conceding are very poor goals, so we have to figure it out, make sure we don’t give easy goals away which we seem to be doing at the minute.”
Both teams are back in action at 7.45pm on Wednesday December 13, live on Sky Sports Football Red Button.
Coventry host Southampton at the Coventry Building Society Arena, while Birmingham travel to South Wales to take on Cardiff.