By Luke McNulty, a member of the FA Young Reporters' Club. Luke is a third year sports journalism student at the University of Gloucestershire. He is extremely passionate about football, as well as basketball and tennis and is excited to be part of a project such as the YRC. "I feel this will provide me with some fantastic experience as I go into my prospective career as a multi-faceted sports journalist."
Coventry United's rise through the English football pyramid has been drastic, to say the least, over the last five years.
After three promotions in their first five years of existence, the club has been keen to continue its success.
Manager Terry Anderson echoed those expectations ahead of kick-off, saying he and his players want to remain in the Emirates FA Cup for as long as possible.
- The Emirates FA Cup
- Extra preliminary round
- Sunday 12 August 2018
- Winners receive £2250 and losers £750 from prize fund
But those hopes came crashing down on Sunday, as Anderson saw his side succumb to a 2-1 home defeat to local rivals Rugby Town.
A pair of Danico Johnson goals, either side of the break, were enough to send Carl Adams' Town side through to the preliminary round for the second straight season, and enough to send United out at the same stage for the second season running.
The game started cagily, both sides respecting one another, as well as the conditions. The bobbly pitch, the railway track serving as a backdrop and the handful of local supporters standing behind the goal all created a level of authenticity which can only be found in the FA Cup.
Openings presented themselves for both teams in the early exchanges, as Shaquille McDonald spurned a couple of chances for the hosts.
It was Town, however, who silenced the hostile home support. Steffan Blake drove through the middle of the field, before threading through a ball to striker Charlie Evans. Town's number nine showed great awareness to unselfishly square to Johnson, who made no mistake from 12 yards, smashing home the opener.
Things began to get feisty between the two teams as the first half wore on, Town defender Dominic Perkins twice exchanging words with opposing players. The will to win was mutual, and it showed as United got themselves level on the stroke of half time.
After Perkins fouled striker Curvin Ellis on the edge of the area, captain Robert Prinzel stepped up to take the resulting free-kick.
The set-piece was smashed into the wall, but Ellis was on hand to spectacularly volley home the ricochet, leaving keeper Matt Hill helpless.
The United faithful were revitalised, basking in the banter with ex-forward and current Town player Lewis Rankin before and after the equaliser.
‘If the Kids Are United’ was blasted out through the speakers at the end of the interval, but the players weren't united as Town controlled the second half.
Evans, Johnson, and Rankin all went close shortly after the restart, as Town found themselves firmly in the ascendency.
Just after the hour mark, the pressure paid off. The energetic Johnson beat the offside trap, and even had time to check with the linesman, before firing past Jack Tregartha emphatically to restore the lead.
Anderson brought on Ryan Palmer and Aron Wint in search of a lifeline but was resigned to defeat when Tregartha saw red 12 minutes from time.
The United keeper rushed out to pounce on a loose ball, only to be beaten to the ball by Johnson. There was no doubt in the referee's mind as he brandished the red card towards Tregartha.
The hosts tried and failed to create anything clear cut in the dying moments, and it is Town who will face Evesham United in the preliminary round on Saturday 25 August (3pm).