Callum O’Hare scored his first Coventry City goals in more than 19 months as the Sky Blues comfortably beat Wayne Rooney’s Birmingham City at the CBS Arena.
The former Aston Villa midfielder cut in from the right to fire past John Ruddy on the half hour.
O’Hare then dribbled his way sideways across the box before slamming home the clinching second goal on 77 minutes.
It was a fifth successive away defeat for Blues boss Rooney, whose side have picked up just five points from his nine games in charge – and have not earned a single point on their travels since 19 August, two months prior to his appointment.
Blues weakened by loss of defenders
Although Blues were weakened at the back by injuries, it could have been worse but for a string of saves by keeper John Ruddy.
Added to the expected loss of Ethan Laird, who was ruled out on Thursday with a groin injury, Blues were also without two more defenders – Cody Drameh, Laird’s expected replacement, as well as Dion Sanderson.
That meant only a second start of the season for Marc Roberts, and recalls for Wales international Jordan James and striker Lukas Jutkiewicz, who was named skipper on his return to one of his old clubs.
But, since leaving Coventry, Jutkiewicz has played against his old club, never scored and never won – and he never looked like winning this one either.
The Sky Blues were without top scorer Matt Godden, who missed the game as his wife was in labour. But, on only his second start of the season after the best part of a year out being nursed back following knee surgery, O’Hare truly stepped up to the plate.
He comes from a Blues-supporting family. His uncle, former Birmingham skipper Ian Clarkson, was actually up in the main stand helping to report on the game for BBC Radio WM. But that did nothing to lessen O’Hare’s hunger.
Ruddy had already made one point-blank save from a well-struck O’Hare shot before the Sky Blues playmaker finally broke the deadlock.
After being slipped down the right by Tatsuhiro Sakamoto, O’Hare wriggled his way through three defenders before slipping a cheeky toe-poke past Ruddy.
After a half-decent Blues spell at the start of the second half, Coventry then pressed on looking to extend that lead.
The recalled Ellis Simms planted a header straight at Ruddy, co-striker Haji Wright was then denied at point-blank range by Ruddy, who raced off his line to smother superbly.
And the American striker then raced down the left and cut inside makeshift right-back Juninho Bacuna again, only to again be denied a second time by the Blues keeper.
Ruddy also had to dive acrobatically high to his left to keep out a stunning Milan van Ewijk free-kick, before keeping out a low shot from Sakamoto. But, 13 minutes from time, O’Hare settled it.
It had been 672 days since his last Coventry goal, when he opened the scoring. But his second came just 47 minutes later to lift the Sky Blues into 14th, five points shy of the play-offs, going into the rest of the weekend fixtures. Birmingham are two points behind in 16th spot.
Mark Robins’ Coventry now host Southampton on Wednesday before travelling to Leeds on Saturday.
Rooney’s Blues are at Cardiff on Wednesday before hosting Championship leaders Leicester City at St Andrew’s on Monday, 18 December.
Coventry City match-winner Callum O’Hare told BBC CWR:
“I don’t think my friends and family will be too happy, but I’m buzzing, on top of the world.
“I don’t think anyone truly realises just how much this means after being out injured for so long – and I’m not 100% yet.
“I had good contact with my first effort and he saved it, and I thought ‘I’m going to have to put it lower’. And all I could so was toe-poke it past him.
“Haji Wright was close to scoring too. It won’t be long before they start going in for him too.”
Sky Blues manager Mark Robins told BBC CWR:
“We played some really good football right from the start. I’m delighted with everything – result, and performance was really good in spells.
“It was a typical derby game – it was a bit open at times, we gave them a little bit too much space at times.
“Callum [O’Hare] has been incredible. He really deserves that but, as a group, it’ll bring them together and help them progress.
“He typifies the Coventry City spirit and the way we want to go about the job – tonight was outstanding and he deserves all the plaudits he’s going to get.”
Birmingham City boss Wayne Rooney told BBC Radio WM:
“We have to be better defending in the box. We’re conceding too many goals.
“We had two players marking one man in the area. We can’t keep doing that.
“And we were snatching at shots from 20-25 yards, when all the work we have been doing is about probing and trying to to get in the box.
“Also our set-piece delivery wasn’t good enough.”
- 27van Ewijk
- 7BacunaBooked at 9mins
- 44AiwuBooked at 70mins
- 11MiyoshiSubstituted forBurkeat 70′minutes
- 19JamesBooked at 81mins
- 6BielikSubstituted forSunjicat 83′minutes
- 28StansfieldSubstituted forHoganat 70′minutes
- 10JutkiewiczBooked at 75minsSubstituted forDonovanat 83′minutes
- 17DembéléBooked at 56mins
- Sam Allison
Match ends, Coventry City 2, Birmingham City 0.
Second Half ends, Coventry City 2, Birmingham City 0.
Attempt missed. Haji Wright (Coventry City) left footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Jamie Allen.
Attempt blocked. Juninho Bacuna (Birmingham City) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Romelle Donovan.
Foul by Jake Bidwell (Coventry City).
Romelle Donovan (Birmingham City) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Offside, Coventry City. Milan van Ewijk is caught offside.
Corner, Birmingham City. Conceded by Bradley Collins.
Attempt saved. Romelle Donovan (Birmingham City) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Lee Buchanan.
Hand ball by Siriki Dembélé (Birmingham City).
Corner, Birmingham City. Conceded by Ben Sheaf.
Foul by Haji Wright (Coventry City).
Juninho Bacuna (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Birmingham City. Conceded by Milan van Ewijk.
Attempt saved. Oliver Burke (Birmingham City) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Substitution, Birmingham City. Romelle Donovan replaces Lukas Jutkiewicz.
Substitution, Birmingham City. Ivan Sunjic replaces Krystian Bielik.
Haji Wright (Coventry City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Juninho Bacuna (Birmingham City).
Attempt missed. Tatsuhiro Sakamoto (Coventry City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Jake Bidwell with a cross.