Russell Slade: Coventry City boss 'would have run on pitch' after EFL Trophy win

Coventry boss Russell Slade and opposite number Gareth Ainsworth, with (in the background) City goalkeeping coach Steve Ogrizovic, the club's only survivor from that great day in1987
Coventry City boss Russell Slade was greeted warmly by opposite number Gareth Ainsworth

Coventry City manager Russell Slade has excused excited Sky Blues supporters for running on the pitch after seeing their club reach Wembley for the first time in 30 years.

Slade dubbed the fans who turned up for Tuesday's EFL Trophy semi-final win over Wycombe as "unbelievable".

"I've not known it that vocal. They were like the 12th man," said Slade.

"It probably cost us a few quid, them coming on the pitch at the end, but it was good to see them so excited."

Slade told BBC Coventry & Warwickshire: "They were enjoying it and why not? I'd have run on too."

City fans have attracted headlines of a less attractive sort this season for various forms of protest against City's owners Sisu, with pitch invasions. again involved.

But their long-running problems on and off the field were put to one side as League One's bottom club won 2-1 to set up a Wembley meeting on 2 April with the winners of the other semi-final between Luton and Oxford.

Coventry City tweet' outlining the need to reschedule the trip to Bramall Lane to face Sheffield United, which should have been on Saturday 1 April, the day before the final
Coventry's achievement in reaching Wembley for only the third time means rescheduling their trip to Sheffield United, which should have been on 1 April, the day before the final

Wembley return for Coventry and their opponents

Whoever wins that semi at Kenilworth Road on 1 March, it means a nostalgic three-decade throwback to the 1980s for the Wembley final.

It now pitches 1987 FA Cup winners Coventry up against either the 1986 (Oxford United) or 1988 (Luton Town) League Cup winners.

But, after 13 League One games without a win, Slade is more concerned with building on that sense of winning spirit to see his side through their next 10 season-defining matches prior to Wembley - and eat into the eight-point gap that currently separates them from safety.

"Our attitude was very good," said Slade. "It's important for us to maintain that going back into the league programme.

"Wycombe kept coming and coming. Our lads have seen just how hard you have to work to get results."

"It's a great feeling," said City midfielder George Thomas, scorer of the Sky Blues' second goal which proved to be the winner once the iconic Adebayo Akinfenwa had reduced Wycombe's arrears in the 55th minute.

"The chance to get to Wembley had the lads excited but a bit nervous. And we didn't want the to let the fans down," Thomas told BBC Coventry & Warwickshire.

"When we saw Akinfenwa coming on, we knew it was going to be a physical second half but our centre-halves dealt with him great. We got there in the end and did the job."

Coventry City fans take to the pitch after their EFL Trophy semi-final win over Wycombe Wanderers
Coventry had their biggest crowd of the season - 11,672 - for the EFL Trophy semi-final win over Wycombe, having attracted their lowest-ever, 1338, for their earlier tie with Crawley


Clive Eakin (BBC Coventry & Warwickshire)

Most Sky Blues fans were determined to enjoy an all too rare famous night. 30 years after their only two previous visits to Wembley (the 1987 FA Cup final and Charity Shield) Coventry City are finally returning to the national stadium and only a few supporters seem concerned that it's the much-maligned Checkatrade Trophy.

Fans young and old relished a night off from the despair, despondency and anger which have reached new levels this season. The players too, clearly appreciated being on the end of cheers and plaudits, several apparently reluctant to leave the field while fans celebrated.

The realities of the club's problems on and off the field will no doubt kick in again when they line up for a League One relegation six-pointer at Oldham this weekend but for now let Coventry City folk smile for a change.