Cheltenham Town suffered their heaviest defeat of the season as promotion chasing Coventry City cruised to victory at the LCI Rail Stadium in the penultimate Sky Bet League Two match of 2017/18.
Needing a victory in their chase for the play-off places, the Sky Blues went ahead in the 12th minute as Tom Bayliss, who also netted in the reverse fixture, half-volleyed past Scott Flinders.
It was two in the 27th minute, as Jack Grimmer crossed for Marc McNulty to power a well-placed header into the top corner, before Shipley side-footed in a third after 38 minutes.
McNulty then lifted in a fourth one minute before the break, as a Joe Rodon mistake led to the striker being clean through to score his second, capping off a tough first half for the Robins.
Cheltenham did get one back after 57 minutes, as Mo Eisa won and then converted a penalty in front of the home end.
But an overhead kick from Max Biamou, set-up by McNulty made it five, before the Scotsman completed his hat-trick by curling into the top corner after 78 minutes to complete a miserable afternoon for Cheltenham.
Gary Johnson made three changes to the team that started in the seven-goal thriller at Cambridge, as Danny Wright, Rodon and Harry Pell came into the side.
Jordan Cranston, Taylor Moore and George Lloyd dropped out of the team and onto the bench, with the Robins lining up 4-4-2 for their final home game of the season.
The Robins won two free-kicks inside the fifth minute and from the second one, Eisa struck the set-piece straight at Lee Burge.
Some neat play at the other end saw Jordan Shipley play a dangerous low cross into Marc McNulty, but Will Boyle was on hand to clear under pressure, before Ilias Chatzitheodoridis bravely headed a second delivery wide for a corner.
A lovely chipped through-ball from Jerell Sellars released Eisa, but Burge made a smart save to keep the supporters’ and players’ player of the season out.
Then came the opening goal, as Cheltenham switched off from a free-kick and Shipley found Bayliss, who cushioned a half-volley past Flinders in the 12th minute to send the full-allocation of Coventry fans wild.
The hosts responded well, as Nigel Atangana’s deflected pass nearly reached Wright but Burge gathered at his feet.
Max Biamou then stretched to reach a cross, but his prodded attempt bobbled wide as the visitors pressed for a second, with Bayliss striking off target shortly afterwards.
Mark Robins’ side did double their advantage eventually though, as McNulty profited from a brilliant run and cross from Grimmer on the right-hand side – powering an unstoppable header into the top corner after 27 minutes.
McNulty held up another cross from the right in the 38th minute, and Shipley kept his head to covert a third for the Sky Blues, slotting into the bottom corner.
A good passage of play from Cheltenham then led to Atangana testing Burge, but a nightmare first-half wasn’t over before Rodon misjudged a long-ball and McNulty netted his second by lifting the ball over Flinders in the 44th minute.
Shipley fizzed a rasping drive from distance early in the second half, but Flinders did well to parry it away.
Cheltenham did have the chance to reduce the deficit in the 57th minute, as Eisa was clattered by Burge, resulting in a penalty for the hosts.
Eisa stepped up to net his first penalty of the campaign, sending Burge the wrong way for his 25th goal in all competitions.
Johnson’s side were playing better and with more confidence, as both Eisa and Wright volleyed wide inside the penalty box, the goal had certainly lifted spirits.
Half-time substitute Sanmi Odelusi’s deflected shot then fell for Eisa, who hit a dipping strike onto the roof of the net as the clocked ticket beyond the 70th minute.
On a rare flurry forward, McNulty crossed for Biamou to score with a spectacular overhead kick, which Flinders tried his best to get to but to no avail.
McNulty then bagged his third, running free on the left-hand side and curling into the top corner with an unstoppable shot to compound the Robins to their heaviest defeat of the season.
ROBINS: Flinders (Gk), Atangana, Pell, Wright, Winchester, Boyle, Sellars (Odelusi 46), Eisa, Morrell, Rodon (Grimes 46), Chatzitheodoridis. Subs not used: Lovett (Gk), Cranston, Andrews, Lloyd.
COVENTRY: Burge (Gk), Grimmer, Stokes, Willis, Kelly, Doyle, Biamou (Clarke-Harris 82), McNulty (Ponticelli 79), Davies, Shipley, Bayliss (Reid 77). Subs not used: O’Brien (Gk), Hyam, Haynes, Barrett.
REFEREE: Antony Coggins.
ATTENDANCE: 5,027 (1,541 from Coventry)