Mbengue brings Coventry back down to earth with winner for Reading
Coventry’s impressive progress in the Sky Bet Championship prior to the World Cup break came to an abrupt halt on their return to action as they lost 1-0 at Reading.
In a cagey first half, both goalkeepers were called into action to maintain the 0-0 scoreline.
Reading’s Joe Lumley saved well from Callum O’Hare while Coventry’s Ben Wilson kept out a fine Yakou Meite header.
Coventry went behind 12 minutes into the second period, when Frenchman Amadou Mbengue was on hand to nod in his first Reading goal.
And City, try as they did, were unable to force a fightback as the hosts held on with relative ease.
Coventry had won seven of their nine matches before the Qatar break, including their last four without conceding a goal, to move from bottom of the Championship to 11th place.
Reading went into the World Cup recess in poor form, with only two wins from 10 games.
But they had won their last outing, 2-1 at Hull in mid-November thanks to a last-gasp Ryan Longman own goal.
Coventry started sluggishly and were penned deep in their half for much of the opening exchanges.
However, Reading were unable to capitalise on their dominance and City were soon able to make headway forward.
It was the hosts, though, who created the first opportunity, when Tom Ince found some space 20 yards out.
But his attempt was wildly off target and failed to trouble Wilson.
Reading lost centre-back Tom Holmes to injury after 14 minutes, after he had twice received treatment on the pitch, and he was replaced by Tom McIntyre.
City sensed Reading might be vulnerable and reshaped their defence, but Ben Sheaf drove high over when well positioned.
And as the visitors upped the tempo, O’Hare produced a fine low save from Lumley.
Just before the break, Coventry won a dangerous free-kick on the edge of the home area – only for Gustavo Hamer to fire his set-piece effort narrowly wide.
Reading replied immediately, with Wilson having to move smartly to keep out a glancing header from Meite from an Ince cross.
Coventry emerged the more lively team after half-time, with defender Michael Rose unlucky not to break the deadlock when he nodded a Hamer corner against the back post.
Lumley then had to react well to keep out an effort from O’Hare.
But City’s endeavours came to nought and they fell behind in the 57th minute following an Ince corner.
McIntyre nodded it on and Mbengue pounced from close range, heading in off the underside of the crossbar.
Coventry tried to mount a late comeback but attempts from Sheaf and Callum Doyle from long distance failed to trouble Lumley.