Sunday, 22 November 2015

My Seventeenth 15/16 Game - Coventry City vs Gilingham

  2nd in the league and entering a top of the table clash, we needed to all pull together to try and get a good result against the league leaders. Since Colchester we have made two forays into the transfer market, bringing back 2 former city players and fan favourites Ben Turner and Gael Bigirimana on loan until January 3rd. We had also extended the loan deal of Joe Cole until the same day, giving him more time to gain fitness and hopefully play more games and contribute to the team more.

 Since we now have 6 loan players, and only 5 can be in the match squad at any one time, it was Joe Cole that drew the short straw and missed out. I never thought I'd see the day that Joe Cole would struggle to get in to a Coventry City side, but in all seriousness, we had fielded a very strong side for such a huge game. Charles-Cook started in net, with Ricketts and Stokes at the full back positions. Ben Turner made his debut for his second spell at the Sky Blues partnered with Aaron Martin. Bigirimana didn't mange to break into the first team upon his comeback so Fleck and Vincelot played once more.

 Ryan Kent returned from international duty to play along side Jim O'Brien and the in form Jacob Murphy shadowing Adam Armstrong who also came back from representing England Under 19s. Returning to the Ricoh were ex-city strikers Dominic Samuel and Cody McDonald but this time were playing for Gillingham. So, many returns in what promised to be a cracker of a match, and it did not disappoint to say the last.

 The game began with the Sky Blues on top in my opinion. But we couldn't make the final ball into the box to get the upper hand, the game really kicked off on the 30th minute when Armstrong bolted down the left wing and crossed the ball in for Jacob Murphy who had an easy tap in chance but somehow managed to put it wide. I was afraid that this may lower his confidence and we might live to rue this miss, and it looked as if this would be the case when Cody McDonald won a header from a Gillingham corner and it was flying into the top corner but the captain Ricketts managed to head it away.

 From the same corner, we managed to break and after a defensive mistake Jacob Murphy found himself running through on goal with Armstrong to his right but he wasn't needed, Murphy rounded the keeper and even though it wasn't the cleanest of finishes, they all count and we were 1-0 up on 34 minutes. This was the point in which the floodgates really opened and less than 2 and a half minutes later Ryan Kent won a corner which he himself floated in the box for Reda Johnson's replacement Ben Turner to head home to give us a more comfortable lead on his Ricoh return.

 We carried on pressing and another 4 minutes later Jim O'Brien split open the Gillingham defence with a killer pass through to Murphy whom, in almost identical fashion to his first, rounded the keeper and scored on his left peg, this time a lot smoother and from slightly further out. We still weren't finished even now, just before half time Chris Stokes found some pace from somewhere and crossed it to the edge of the 6-yard box where Jacob Murphy was waiting, ready to smash past the keeper for his hat trick.

 As half time came around, somehow, in 10 minutes, we had scored 4 goals and Jacob Murphy had a hat trick in as many minutes. It was an incredible first half, I assumed we would take our foot off the gas given our comfortable lead, but not let them get any early goals back, keep a clean sheet if possible. Into the 2nd half and we almost made it 5 when Armstrong was played through by Kent but could only manage to hit the outside of the right post.

 After the miss we got caught out, Bradley Dack found the ball on the edge of the box and with a slight deflection, Gills had themselves a consolation. We made a couple of substitutions after this to tighten up perhaps, Ben Turner made way for Phillips, I'm sure he didn't expect this kind of debut. Also, Bigirimana made his second debut in the Sky Blue shirt when he replaced Hat trick scoring stand out player Jacob Murphy. A brilliant effort from him and the rest of the team had secured us the win as we played out the remaining minutes without any huge talking points.

 A massive win in such a massive fixture took us top of the pile by 3 points. The result was all the more sweet as Burton were defeated and Walsall drew at home to Sheffield United, giving us breathing space at the top. The 18th 'A View From The Stands' will be our home game against Doncaster as I'm not able to make our mid week trip to Bradford.

My Man Of The Match - Jacob Murphy - Funnily enough, his hat trick is enough to warrant him his 2nd award in 2 weeks. I wasn't his biggest fan to begin with but he has definitely got back into my good books... This puts him in the now group of 3 players on 2 awards, all chasing Adam Armstrong on 3.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

My Sixteenth 15/16 Game Colchester United vs Coventry City

 Off the back of our very disappointing FA cup exit to Northampton, we got back to our league campaign and our first away fixture in 3, Walsall and Burton had their fixtures postponed due to international call ups, meaning a win could take us top depending on the Gillingham score line. However we too had been bitten by the international break as Adam Armstrong and Ryan Kent had both been called up for separate England squads as they usually are.

 Putting the football aside, the night before the match was one which will be remembered in history, as Paris had experienced numerous attacks across the city, this is something which needs to be acknowledged and was done so with a minutes silence in honour of the victims. Romain Vincelot and Marc-Antoine Fortune both had family and friends living in the French capital but have expressed that they have contacted them and say they are safe.

 The French pair both started for the Sky Blues, Vincelot returning from suspension. Partnering Romain was John Fleck, and behind them was the usual back four of Phillips, Martin, Ricketts and Stokes, Reice Charles-Cook came back into the side after a minor injury ruled him out of the Northampton fixture. On the wings were Ruben Lameires and Jim O'Brien, with Jacob Murphy playing behind Fortune.

 The Sky Blues started brightly, with Murphy and Fleck both getting shots away, but it was Colchester who drew first blood, a cross in from Callum Harriott to Macauley Bonne from 2 yards to slip past Charles-Cook who possibly could have done better, but either way, we were 1-0 down within 16 minutes. After the goal went in we seemed to switch off, we were getting lucky as Colchester were having attack after attack and it wasn't happening for them.

 We needed a saviour, and got that in bizarre fashion, Marvin Sordell waltzed through the defence and beat Charles-Cook at his near post but it was the woodwork which denied him as the ball trickled across the line and was soon cleared, it was this which knocked us into shape and it took us just 4 minutes to equalise through Jacob Murphy, when the ball fell to him on the edge of the 6 yard box and he finished well into the bottom corner.

 5 minutes before the break and we took a quick free kick but kicked it straight over the top of everyone for the last defender to easily put his foot on. But he didn't do this, it seemed as if it went straight through it, but this led to Jacob Murphy being 1 on 1 with the keeper whom he rounded with ease to give the Sky Blues the lead for the first time on 40 minutes. We contained our lead and held out until the half time whistle.

 We began the second half as we ended the first, on top. It only took 3 minutes for us to strike again when Ruben Lameires did some good skill to get past the defender, had a shot which former Sky Blue keeper Jones made a hash of and gave it straight to Fortune to give the Sky Blues a comfortable lead so we had some breathing space. From here on in we saw out the game, not playing too defensive, but not too attacking either. Full time eventually came after some good saves by Charles-Cook.

 A good solid win takes us up to 2nd, only behind Gillingham on goal difference. And it is Gillingham we face next at the Ricoh Arena which will be 'A View From The Stands' number 17, and possibly the biggest game of our season so far.

My Man Of The Match - Jacob Murphy - It's no secret I am not his biggest fan, but Jacob played brilliant today and was rewarded with a brace. This gets him off the mark with the awards, behind Lameires, Ricketts and Armstrong on 2 and 3.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

My Fourteenth 15/16 Game - Coventry City vs Barnsley

 3 days after our outrageous comeback against Peterborough, whom were the most in form team in the league, we faced the worst in form team in the league, losing their last 6 games in a row. This was our long awaited game in hand, a win here could see us moving to 1 point off league leaders Walsall, and due to Barnsley's poor form, it was definitely a game we should be winning. With a very good team out, we were in a good position to do so.

 Speaking of the team, Joe Cole made his home debut for the Sky Blues and certainly got a warm welcome. Kent and O'Brien started either side of Cole with League top scorer Adam Armstrong ahead of them. The usual 2 centre midfielders of Fleck and Vincelot started once more along with the usual back 4 of Stokes, Martin, Ricketts and Phillips respectively. Reice Charles-Cook or "Cookie Monster" as he is beginning to be known as, started in net.

 For once, we didn't get off to a "slow start" or have a bad first half and need Mowbray to knock us into shape during the break, as only 2 minutes in, Ryan Kent decided to shoot from 20 yards which flew into the far bottom corner to put us 1-0 up. We had a great first period, and just before the 20 minute mark, Aaron Phillips bolted down the right side and drilled the ball into the box for Adam Armstrong to smash home, putting us 2-0 up and looking great.

 We had a penalty appeal turned down toward the end of the first half when Ryan Kent did one of the best skill moves I've ever seen, a rabona flip-flap through the legs of the defender, and as he darted past him, got an arm to the face and went down, it would have been a soft penalty but I have seen them given before. But this took us into half time, comfortably winning and looking very much the better team. What we needed to do for the second half was consolidate the lead and see the game out, maybe get another goal or two, just don't do anything silly and let a goal in early on.

 But we did exactly that and in the 47th minute, Alfie Mawson scored a header as the Sky Blue defenders decided to switch off. 2-1. A couple of seasons ago, I would not have been surprised if we had gone on and lost the game from this point, but it goes to show how far we have come since then and we hit them straight back. Jim O'Brien played a beautiful through ball over the defence for Armstrong to latch on to and slot home to put us 2 goals ahead for the second time in the game.

 However we made the same mistake again! However this time the goal should not have counted as Josh Scowen handballed it blatantly before smashing in to the far corner past Charles-Cook. Aaron Martin stopped as if he was expecting a free kick to go our way but it never came, we lost our 2 goal advantage again and the moral here is, always play to the whistle. In a very pinball machine game, just 6 minutes after conceding we won ourselves a free kick from about 25 yards, the man we put on it had his chance to show what he was made of, show his first piece of brilliance since signing and he took his chance. Joe Cole, with an incredible strike in to the top corner to put us 4-2 up, with half an hour to play.

 Cole came off shortly after and we had a quiet last half an hour. In the sixth minute of injury time, Aaron Phillips handballed in the box and gave away a very silly penalty which was converted so the game finished 4-3, a good 3 points but we conceded a couple of silly goals which could have, if not been conceded, put us above Gillingham into third on goal difference. However, we had still won our game in hand, we are now level on points with Gills and 1 point off Burton and Walsall in 2nd and 1st.

 The Next 'A View From The Stands' and the 15th one at that will be our home tie against the financially struggling Northampton Town in the first round of the FA cup, a nice change of pace from the normal league fixtures and a good chance to progress through the tournament.

 My Man Of The Match - Joe Cole - A brilliant free kick on the Sky Blues' most high profile players home debut is enough to give him his first award of many hopefully, that is if he stays with us after his loan deal runs out, he says e is happy to, it is all up to Tony Mowbray and Remi Garde for whether that is to happen.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

My Thirteenth 15/16 Game - Coventry City vs Peterborough United

 After being devastated having conceded 2 goals in the final minutes of the game against Swindon, we really were looking to redeem ourselves at home to 'the best in form team in the league' they had just beaten Doncaster 4-0 and were backed by well over 1,000 fans so were definitely not to be messed with. And we very much needed to redeem ourselves, as we had slipped to 6 points off leaders Gillingham, which we were anyway, but 4 points off Walsall and Burton in 2nd and 3rd so we needed a win to bump ourselves up. Walsall and Gillingham were playing one another so obviously they couldn't both take maximum points but this was a real chance to do so.

 I was very, very close to not going to this game due to not being able to get there, but giving away no spoilers, boy I'm glad I did. Joe Cole was nowhere to be seen in the first team or reserves. But he hasn't played football in a very long time so I can understand that. Fortune started behind Armstrong but aside from that and Jacob Murphy playing ahead of Ryan Kent, we played a usual 11. And just 2 minutes in Murphy had a wonderful chance to give the Sky Blues an early lead but smashed straight into the arms of Jak Alnwick, this was a chance he really could not afford to miss but did unfortunately.

 We were made to pay when after a good spell of dominating, Peterborough got the ball on the edge of the box and slotted past Reice Charles-Cook to put posh a goal ahead. We sort of looked to get back in the game, and Armstrong nearly levelled, beating Alnwick however hitting the near post, but on the counter attack Oztumer scored a screamer to double their lead and continuing our unbeaten home record was looking even less likely. The last 10 minutes of the half were Peterborough taking control of the game and us showing no signs of us getting back into it.

 I joked on Twitter saying "Armstrong hat trick and us to win 3-2" when I wasn't that confident we would get anything out of the game at all in reality, however a thought at the back of my head told me that we were the same scoreline down to Peterborough last season and we ended up going on to win 3-2, so we might do it again, why not? We made 2 half time substitutions, bringing Jim O'Brien on for Fortune, and Ryan Kent was brought on for Ruben Lameires. The second half began and the dream could be on was my thought as we just began dominating the game. The chances were just beginning to arrive and everything started to happen for us.

 We made our dominance pay off when after John Fleck struck the post from 25 yards, Vincelot was quick to follow up and with an acrobatic volley, The Sky Blues had got one back with over half an hour left and had every chance of getting points out of it. O'Brien was really changing the game and playing balls to the flanks. 10 minutes to go and we were carrying on pressing when Jacob Murphy did the best thing he's ever done in a city shirt, ran past the last defender, almost falling over in the process, and playing Armstrong in who tapped into the empty net, we were level, it was incredible. We had made up for throwing away a 2 goal lead by coming back from a 2 goal defecit. The best bit was that there was another 8 minutes left for us to snatch a winner.

 Ryan Haynes played the ball to Armstrong with only 3 minutes left and after some Ronaldo-esque skill, he was one on one with the keeper and smashed home on his weaker foot to complete a beautiful comeback and after seeing out 6 minutes of injury time, we had won the game. Most likely my favourite game of the season, along with Fleetwood.

 The next 'A View From The Stands' will be Barnsley at home in our all important game in hand which potentially could take us within one point of top. Lets hope for another win to add to the unbeaten season at the Ricoh Arena in such an Important game.

My Man Of The Match - Jim O'Brien - Yes, I know. He came on as a substitute but he changed the game and I can look no further than him for this weeks award, even if it means he beats Adam Armstrong with his brace.