Coventry City 1 Cardiff City 3

The Sky Blues looked to be set for a comfortable win after taking an early lead and turning on the style but Lennie Lawrence's men came storming back with three goals in nine minutes.

Coventry, playing without Gary McAllister who was again missing due to family illness, sped into the lead thanks to a fine finish from the returning Michael Doyle.

The young Irishman showed great technique when he volleyed home from 20 yards after an Andy Morrell cross was half-cleared.

Cardiff has little answer for the home side's quick breaking style and Patrick Suffo twice went close to doubling the lead.

He surprised Neil Alexander with a snap shot on the turn in the 18th minute and then in the 23rd hit the post after an excellent move.

Youssef Safri put him through and he beat the last defender with ease only for his shot to strike the post and roll across the face of goal.

It was to prove a pivotal point.

Five minutes later Robert Earnshaw was given far too much room behind the City defence and was able to run clear on goal. The Welsh international's shot was weak but Scott Shearer in the Coventry goal failed to hold it, and Gareth Whalley followed in to score.

Crucially Cardiff went ahead just four minutes later when Gavin Gordon climbed above Steve Staunton to head home a Gary Croft free-kick.

Referee Eddie Ilderton then proved the decisive figure. He waved away claims for a Coventry penalty when Doyle was tripped - it looked fairly clear-cut - and then gave one at the other end when Shearer and Earnshaw tangled inside the area. The striker converted from the spot.

The second half never matched up to the quality or excitement of the first.

Shearer looked to have lost his nerve and was twice rounded by Cardiff strikers only to escape unpunished.