Wednesday, 30 December 2015

My Twenty-First 15/16 Game - Coventry City vs Oldham Athletic

Before the game had even begun the game was overshadowed by the death of Coventry City legend Jimmy Hill who sadly passed away today at the age of 87. A minutes applause was well observed pre-match in honour of such a great of the game. One thing I have to apologise for is the lateness of this game entry, you think you're on top of thing and then boom, the Christmas period comes and goes and you're 3 game behind.

 Anyway, our 6 day break after the horror of the defeat to Sheffield and we were praying we could pick ourselves up again with 3 points. One major talking point in the Sky Blue squad you could see was the reintroduction of James Maddison onto the bench, he hadn't played since Walsall but was back in the team ahead of schedule; a nice Christmas present for the team.

 Charles-Cook started in goal with Phillips, Martin, Turner and Stokes in front of him. Bigirimana and Vincelot played as the holding midfielders, John Fleck was a surprise miss and it was later revealed he had hamstring troubles. Once more Adam Armstrong started ahead of the 3 attacking midfielders of Jim O'Brien, Joe Cole and Ryan Kent. I like Ryan but at times he can be quite greedy, but is a key figure running down the wings and can't see Jurgen Klopp wanting him back at Liverpool so he should see out the season at the Sky Blues.

  The first major talking point of the game was 25 minutes in when Ben Turner fell awkwardly and injured his ankle, he was substituted off for Ryan Haynes and Chris Stokes moved to centre back, in the days after the game it showed that we would have to send Turner back to his parent club as he was in need of an operation. Rotten luck for Turner, who has suffered Ankle problems in the past but the injury in question happened on his other leg! Get well soon Ben.

 Ryan Kent shot wide after steaming in to the box just 5 minutes later but couldn't put the Sky Blues a goal ahead and this took us into half time. We seemed to have slightly lost a grip of the game when Ben Turner went off and we didn't seem comfortable in the way we played. Not long in to the second half and we nearly managed the breakthrough, Joe Cole put in a beautiful cross which found the head of Romain Vincelot who headed across goal but was cleared off the line and eventually cleared out for another corner.

 From the resulting set piece, Cole repeated his delivery to the back post which Aaron Martin bundled in to the back of the net putting the Sky Blues 1-0 up. 10 minutes later Cole was taken off for Fortune which surprises me, on that bench we had 2 perfectly good attacking midfielder options in Lameiras and Maddison, but brought on in my opinion our worst player. Despite struggling for fitness I think Cole did put in a good shift for the team, assisting the goal for Martin.

 Even now we still didn't look comfortable, we're meant to be one of the best teams in the league and are struggling to beat 2nd bottom Oldham at home. With 20 minutes to go James Maddison finally got his chance but couldn't make the impact in the time given. One thing you don't do when you're 1-0 up is to stop pushing, you invite pressure in and sometimes you get away with it but other times you pay the price and for the remainder of the game we looked to be tempting fete.

 It did look as if we were going to hold on for victory but remember, this is Coventry City we're talking about, from a corner in the 93rd minute, Danny Philliskirk got a scrappy header which Charles-Cook should have easily dealt with but missed the punch and we found ourselves at 1-1, Oldham had stolen a point right at the death of the game.

 Stupidly dropping 2 points put us down to third with Walsall still to play who ended up beating Port Vale, taking us down to fourth place. This leaves us desperate for a win, and the next ' A View From The Stands' will be the Boxing Day game against Port Vale at the Ricoh Arena.

 My Man Of The Match - Joe Cole - Call me biased but the couple of crosses Joe Cole put in leading to the goal really helped the team and we did start to fade away when he went off. He still has a long way to go but I do think he was the best player on the pitch today. This adds to the one award he already has and puts him one behind the leaders of Armstrong and Lameiras.

Friday, 18 December 2015

My Twentieth 15/16 Game - Sheffield United vs Coventry City

 Back to normality after last weeks FA Cup trip to Northampton and a very big, but definitely winnable game away to Sheffield United. The Sunday game at 12pm meant getting up ludicrously early to make the trip north. Now first things first, this is going to be very moany and critical toward events in the game.

 Everyone thought James Maddison would make the bench today, but he was not involved, not deemed read enough by Tony Mowbray. However there was a return to the bench and it's Joe Cole, one of my childhood heroes was back from a hamstring problem. His last interaction saw him score "that goal" and it had been over a month since that.

 As mentioned Cole began on the bench, but the starting XI of Charles-Cook, Ricketts, Martin, Turner, Stokes, O'Brien, Vincelot, Fleck, Murphy, Lameires and Armstrong was still very strong and capable of winning the game. Interestingly Ryan Kent didn't manage a starting place in the team despite his blistering pace, in my opinion he is more key than we think and it is vital he is amongst the loanees we keep in January.

 Sheffield United really showed their true intention early on, break us to stop us scoring, late tackles, hacking us down if we were about to start an attack. Adam Armstrong was played through on goal, 10 yards out, his play ground for scoring but was saved well by George Long. Soon after was one of the biggest talking point of the game, Ruben Lameires put the ball past Jay McEveley but he showed no signs of stopping and completely took Ruben out at his knees, definite red card in my opinion, but the referee, for his first mistake of many, bottled it and only booked him. Everyone felt this was a shocking decision.

 Just before half time Matt Done was running through when his shirt was lightly pulled by Ben Turner, claims were given for a red card as Turner was last man but I wouldn't have sent him off and it would have been an outrageous decision given what he'd done a few minutes previous. Eventually we got into half time, we just needed the first goal and I could see us doing exactly that if we kept focused.

  Even in the second half the Blades kept on attacking us, on the hour mark we brought on Cole for Jim O'Brien and I was excited to see the impact he would make. Not long after the breakthrough was made, Jacob Murphy's cross was deflected off the hand of a defender to George Long who spilled over his own line, Cole ran off celebrating, and we were 1-0 up!... or so we thought, the referee had given neither the goal nor the penalty for handball. This was the second poor decision the referee would make but I only found out via twitter not having seen from the other side of the stadium.

 With 10 minutes left in the match, Sheffield United won a corner which was put into the box, Charles-Cook missed and Billy Sharp's shoulder put the ball in the net, we were 1-0 down in a game where we should be facing 10 men and be 1-0 up and a lucky goal from a team whom hadn't had a shot on target for the entire first half.

 One final talking point of the game was the second yellow of Sam Ricketts, he put his foot to the ball and cleanly got it, the referee wouldn't even have blown his whistle if the attacker hadn't bowled over in 'agony', the only thing missing was the superman dive on to the floor. His sending off was the worst end was to the worst game.

 What can you do? It's just one of those games, on that Sunday in December, we were well and truly robbed. However the only thing you can do is pick yourselves back up again and not let the loss get to you. What a game to mark the 20th 'A View From The Stands', and the 21st will be our home game to second bottom Oldham Athletic and given our previous track record is the sort of game we would definitely drop points at.

 My Man Of The Match - Ruben Lameires - Despite almost having his career ended in the first half, Ruben was running the game down the right wing before being, wrongly in my opinion, substituted off. Out of nowhere, Lameires is the joint leader of awards with Adam Armstrong, interesting fact ( to me ) every time Lameires has won an award, we have lost the game.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

My Eighteenth 15/16 Game - Coventry City vs Doncaster Rovers

 Still unbeaten at home going into the game and off the back of the Gillingham win, Doncaster seemed easy compared to what we've been doing as they sat in 16th place, but Darren Fergusons men were not to be underestimated, as they were still a strong side. Since the 4-1 victor over Gills, we faced Bradford City away on Tuesday night, I wasn't able to make it so obviously I was unable to write on it. However we ground out a fairly dull nil-nil draw.

 The teams on the other hand differed slightly to Bradford, Charles-Cook started in goal. Predictably, the back four stayed the same as it had for Gillingham and Bradford, Stokes, Martin, Turner and Ricketts lead the line. Fleck returned after being out with a sore hamstring and was accompanied by Vincelot. Kent found his way back into the team with Jim O'Brien and hat trick hero Murphy. Armstrong started once again.

 Still Joe Cole is not managing to make it into the team, having extended his loan, but his fitness issues mean he hasn't gotten in since 'that goal'. But Bigirimana began on the bench. I thought we would take control of possession as we usually do at home, but this was not the case. For me, Donny were on top for most of the first half and we were lucky to get the goal when we did, Ricketts of all people shot from 20 yards but was poorly cleared and was bouncing everywhere imaginable in the box until it came to Armstrong whom slotted home his 13th of the season. This gave us a very important one goal lead on the half-hour mark.

 We took this lead into half time, but by no means did we look convincing, we needed to tighten our defence and not assume we'd already won. My suspicions became true when just 7 minutes in to the second half a scrappy shot and a poor save from Cook meant that Nathan Tyson had an easy tap in to give Rovers the equaliser. From here we began to take control, and only another 7 minutes later from a cleared corner we did when John Fleck smashed home from 25 yards. However there was some poor goalkeeping involved so we got a bit lucky.

  I hate our tactic of when we're winning, just passing it round the back and inviting in pressure, because teams figure it out, like Swindon did, and now Doncaster when John Fleck wasn't concentrating and gave the ball straight to Donny and for Nathan Tyson to stick past Cook to put them level for the second time this game. Poor from Fleck, gifting them a goal. We tried attacking to get a winner again but it didn't come and we drew our second game in a row.

 Technically we're still top for now, but a win from Burton and a big win from Walsall could see us drop as far as 3rd. Unlikely, but lets hope we're still top by our next game in 2 weeks time away to Sheffield United, which will not be the 19th 'A View From The Stands' but the 20th, as for the first time, I will be doing a non Coventry City game. Wait and see to see which game I'm going to!

My Man Of The Match - Romain Vincelot - He had good competition from Fleck but after the mistake it has to go to Vincelot, he played good football at either end of the pitch so he gets his first award, he has really been an unsung hero this season and deserves recognition.