The shortcoming which is staring us all in the face sentenced Albion to another expensive early exit from the FA Cup.

The Seagulls' lack of a goal threat was once again the difference between the possibility of landing a lucrative tie in today's fourth round draw and a fourth defeat on the trot.

Somehow, from somewhere, McGhee must find within his limited budget this month somebody to put the ball into the net like he used to for Newcastle, Celtic and Aberdeen.

Coventry boss Micky Adams, making a triumphant return to Withdean, is right when he says there are worse teams in the Championship than his old club.

The problem is Albion probably have the least effective strike force and, if they go down, that will be the reason why.

Leon Knight remains the leading marksman following his move to Swansea last week with a paltry five goals, including a penalty.

The close friend Knight has left behind, Colin Kazim-Richards, is the only Albion striker to have scored in the last nine matches, a spectacular consolation from long range when he came on at Reading last month.

The six recognised front men have collectively managed ten goals in the league this season, Jake Robinson, Mark McCammon, Chris McPhee and Federico Turienzo just one between them.

That simply is not enough, particularly now that Albion have two Frenchmen in Seb Carole and Alex Frutos capable of providing the ammunition if they had a goal threat to aim for.

That pair cost nothing. Cheap strikers with a proven track record are much more difficult to find.

It is all very well fans talking glibly about landing £8,000-a-week poachers like Francis Jeffers. The only way a player with Jeffers' top-flight pedigree could probably be afforded is on loan, courtesy of a huge favour from his parent club in helping to pay his wages.

That is not withstanding the fact that such a player may not exactly be enamoured by the prospect of playing Championship football in a struggling side at Withdean, or the high risk for high stakes from Albion's perspective in the case of someone like Jeffers, considering his poor appearance record in recent seasons.

McGhee's detractors should remember, too, he has been able to spend only a fraction of the £1.2 million from Celtic in the summer for Adam Virgo, the centre half he successfully converted into a centre forward last season and who effectively kept the Seagulls up.

"For the first time since I've been here it's coming down to that and I am now feeling the effect of not having the resources," McGhee said.

"I've not made a great issue of it and, don't get me wrong, I know how hard behind the scenes the chairman and other people are working to try and find us the resources to allow us to get a player or two.

"But we are finding it difficult now because of the strain that comes with playing at Withdean."

How McGhee must wish he had Coventry's matchwinner Gary McSheffrey in his ranks. The 23-year-old's classy solo effort, five minutes into the second half of a predictably tight tie, lifted his season's tally into double figures.

Had McSheffrey been on Albion's side they would have won and probably by more than the narrowest of margins.

"I think the modern game has become about the flair player," McGhee said. "Teams are well organised, they are fit, they all go into the gym and take their diets seriously, they do everything to make themselves the best possible players they can.

"We all do it. Micky Adams does it with his team, I do it with mine, and the difference between the teams is the guy that can unlock it.

"I saw Coventry at QPR a couple of weeks ago and McSheffrey did the same for them that night. They won 1-0, he got away, got a penalty and scored it.

"We are looking for Seb Carole and Alex Frutos to do that for us but, in particular, we're looking for scorers and we've not had that for some time."

It was no great surprise when McSheffrey, quick and talented, rounded Kerry Mayo to calmly find the far corner of the net from a tight angle. It was a cute decision by Adams to switch him from his normal position this season on the left flank to the right wing and he had been Coventry's main attacking outlet throughout the first half.

McGhee tried something different up front, giving Carole a free role alongside Kazim-Richards rather than Gary Hart who, returning from a two-match absence through illness, instead took up Carole's customary position on the right.

Once behind, Albion pressed forward relentlessly in search of an equaliser. In truth, it never looked like coming against a resolute Coventry defence held together by Adie Williams and Richard Shaw, even though Kazim-Richards, Carole, Dean Hammond and Paul McShane all went reasonably close.

The Seagulls had 20 goal attempts throughout the match, 15 of them off target, which tells its own story. They finished with McCammon and Robinson reunited up front, the pairing used at Southampton five days earlier where another goal sniffer, Dexter Blackstock, was the difference.

"It finally in a sense all came into focus," McGhee said. "I'm a great believer that any team is as good as their strikers.

"We are having to improvise. We are having to ask too much of the likes of young Colin Kazim-Richards.

"The Cup was something that was maybe going to give us the opportunity to find the resources to help us get the player or couple of players we need. That chance has gone now and we have got to make do with the resources we have."

Wayne Henderson is on his way back to Albion. The young Aston Villa keeper is a promising prospect and McGhee has a number of those in his squad, which bodes well for the longer term future, but it is the search for a goalscorer, rather than a goalkeeper, which will shape the rest of this season.

Albion (4-4-2): Chaigneau 7; El-Abd 7, McShane 7, Butters 7, Mayo 6; Hart 6, Carpenter 6, Hammond 6, Frutos 8; Carole 7, Kazim-Richards 6. Subs: Robinson for Hart (withdrawn 57), McCammon for Kazim-Richards (withdrawn 65), Reid for El-Abd (withdrawn 87), Kuipers, G. Elphick.

Coventry (4-4-2): Ince; Duff, Williams, Shaw, Hall; McSheffrey, Doyle, Hughes, Scowcroft; Adebola, John. Subs: Whing for John (withdrawn 73), Morrell for McSheffrey (withdrawn 79), Jorgensen for Hughes (withdrawn 90), Heath, Tuffy.