Friday, 29 April 2016

My Forty-Second 15/16 Game - Gillingham vs Coventry City

 Hopes of play offs were now almost completely gone. Not as many fans turning up to games, only a few hundred were making the trip down to Kent to see the Sky Blues face promotion hopefuls Gillingham. Hopefully now that we had nothing left to play for competitively we would come out raring to go. Players maybe trying to get themselves a new contract for next season, with nearly everyone's running out at the end of June.

Phillips Martin Stephens Ricketts
           Bigirimana Fleck
     Jones                    Murphy


 I was encouraged by this team selection, trying something different to usual now that our promotion hopes are over. Vincelot playing just in front of Bigirimana and Fleck was new, as was playing Tudgay as a loan striker. However my only criticism would be, why aren't we putting youngsters such as Sambou or Thomas in there? Even to keep contract rebel Sambou happy. If he leaves that could be a huge miss for the club when he could be an extremely good prospect for the future. Armstrong on the bench was most likely down to him being tired after just returning from international duty with the England u19s.

  For the first 10 minutes the Gills dominated, we didn't really get a look in. But after we were getting into the game. What I thought was very good, we were utilising our strengths. Jodi Jones was tearing apart the opposition left back. But Gillingham's defence managed to cope with it. Fouling him whenever they needed to. As he isn't the strongest players, it takes a lot less for him to go down, this gave him a bad reputation amongst the Gillingham fans. This can be a big thing for such young shoulders to handle.

 Jones was just about coping with being hacked down at every opportunity, he seemed to be in the centre of everything that went on throughout the game. The ball he put into to Romain Vincelot was headed agonisingly wide, then he appeared to be elbowed in the head as he knocked the ball past the opposition right back. I'm not sure exactly what happened but it was met by another chorus of boos from the home supporters. This moment took the game into half time.

 The second half began lively, Bigirimana had an attempt from 25 yards which nearly crept into the top corner, and we genuinely were looking like the better side. This was encouraging but as it was the Sky Blues you could sense it would all come tumbling down at some point. We then had an even better chance via Jacob Murphy, from some good build up play the on loan Norwich midfielder struck on his left, the effort struck the bar. Not long to go, but it could still go either way as Gillingham were still a very good side.

  In the dying seconds, substitute Armstrong chased down a clearance well enough to block it right into the path of Marcus Tudgay. All the veteran could do was send it on to the underside of the bar and out, a golden opportunity to steal 3 points at Priestfield but ultimately, it wasn't to be. At the start of the game if I was offered a point I probably would have taken it. The next 'A View From The Stands' is our second away trip in a row, this time to now top of the league and unbeaten since January Wigan.

 My Man Of The Match - Aaron Martin - I have been very close to giving the centre back an award all season ans am shocked he has not received one yet. He has improved a lot since joining and is now a very solid defender for the division we are in and perhaps beyond. As I said, this is his first and most likely only award of the season but he had to make it on at some point.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Supporting Your Team - Was Reda In The Wrong?

 As us Sky Blues fans saw at the weekend, our slim chances of play offs were brutally destroyed at the hands of Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium. But meanwhile in Derbyshire, Derby County drew 1-1 in a play off battle with Sheffield Wednesday. The result was not what was on the lips of Coventry fans however, but the appearance of city centre-back Reda Johnson in a Wednesday shirt.

 Sky Blues fans were divided by his actions almost down the middle, half saying "Let the man support who he wants" and the other going with, "Why wasn't he in Doncaster suffering with the rest of us?" I can see where people are coming from, but does it really matter what he does on his weekends? Especially as he is a big fan of the club and played for them for a solid few years.

  I think one reason fans were so annoyed by Reda's presence was due to the fact that they pay his wages so would expect him, if at a match, to be supporting his current team while he is away injured. He could've gotten away with it if he'd have kept his head down, not been too obvious he was there. He did completely the opposite, he turned up in a replica shirt as previously mentioned, and was very obvious toward Wednesday fans.

 On the other hand, no one bats an eye lid when ex-players like Callum Wilson and Carl Baker come back to support the boys at the Ricoh, so why should this be any different? It is pretty much the exact same instance with Reda, so in my opinion he shouldn't be on the receiving end of as much hate s he is getting at the moment.

 Saying that, as one of the few whom made the trip to Doncaster, what would have made it so much better would be seeing your talisman centre back in the stands with you, suffering with you, celebrating with you. In fairness though, he dodged a bullet not going, as if he did, he would be witnessing one of the worst performances for the Sky Blues all season, so it may have been for the best.

 Johnson was today called into to speak to boss Tony Mowbray about his actions, and I don't really see the point. When fit, he is a key player, and his contract is running out at the end of the season. So why upset him? You will be taking a massive risk, he might feel more welcome at a club which allows him to do what he wants, so in my opinion don't risk it, Reda is key.


Friday, 22 April 2016

My Forty-First 15/16 Game - Coventry City vs Colchester United

 Coming out of the Easter weekend having lost at Peterborough, the Sky Blues were looking to get back to winning ways, a defeat here would pretty much end all hopes of play offs. One way to do it would be at home to 23rd placed Colchester United, who were conceding goals for fun and are looking like they are almost relegated. However a few players were still away on international duty but on the plus side, Stephens came back into the team.

Lorentszon Martin Stephens Ricketts
                   Vincelot Fleck
               Jones Cole Murphy


Lameiras (63)
Tudgay (60)
G Thomas (71)

 A couple of talking points from the squad selection. The first being Jodi Jones making his first start in the infamous Sky Blue shirt, he showed promise when coming on as a substitute against Peterborough. Hopefully when his permanent deal goes through he can establish himself in the side for seasons to come. Another was George Thomas and one of the Kelly-Evans brothers being re-introduced onto the bench. Since our season is almost over, why not give youth players a chance in the squad?

 Early on Jacob Murphy had a half chance but blazed over from 25 yards, Colchester hit back almost instantly with devastating consequences. A cross put in was parried out by Charles-Cook, but only as far as Massey who tapped into an empty net with 20 minutes played, personally I was furious. This side have conceded the most goals in the league and we couldn't do anything against them, Cole snatched a shot wide.

 Eventually we got our chance, Vincelot was brought down inside the box on the stroke of half time, up stepped Jacob Murphy. The second placed club goal scorer didn't look ready to take it, he wasn't looking at the goal during his run up, just directly at the ground. You could see what was coming. He struck the ball to the keepers left very low and with no power. The man between the sticks guessed right to keep it out and keep the score at 1-0 going into half time.

 We came out for the second half shell shocked, and we only tried  little bit harder to get back into the match, Jodi Jones and Romain Vincelot both had chances but couldn't manage anything with them. Bringing on George Thomas, Tudgay and Lameiras didn't work either. Eventually, the game finished in a horribly dire 1-0 defeat.

 Sorry for not writing much about the second half, it was just one of those games! The next 'A View From The Stands' will be our away trip to Gillingham which might be interesting as we now have nothing to play for as we close in on the season.

 My Man Of The Match - Jodi Jones - The winger was a bright spark in the squad, he played good passes and had a decent attempt on goal. A decent prospect for years to come hopefully. This is his first award for the season, perhaps too late to win the Man Of The Season award. Maybe he will have a charge next season.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

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

 Under the pressure of Sky TV cameras being at London Road to watch mid-table Peterborough versus promotion hopefuls Coventry, added to the fact that results on the day meant that a win could take us back into the play offs. So excitement was in the air for the travelling 1,000 Sky Blues fans to see if we would bottle it under pressure or would we rise to the occasion. One big problem was a few players were missing on international duty including Adam Armstrong and James Maddison. This meant the team selection was a lot different to usual.

Lorentszon Martin Vincelot Ricketts
                   Fleck Bigirimana
               Rose Murphy Cole


Jones (46)
Tudgay (76)
Henderson (61)

Not the strongest of sides but one which we hoped would be one to get the job done, Vincelot at centre back was a quite scary sight but the main talking point was new signing Jodi Jones making it on to the bench after his impressive début for the U21s, scoring 2 and creating 1 were enough to get him into the first team. Part of this was probably due to the international duty/ injury crisis.

 The game began very lively, Fortune played the ball in early to Joe Cole, the veteran managed to get a shot away which Alnwick parried over early on. Alnwick was in the spotlight again when Jacob Murphy was played through but the keeper managed to get a touch on the ball to send it on to the post. Good early signs but the goal needed to come soon to avoid Peterborough bagging one on the break.

 Fortune was through on goal and struck the ball past the keeper from 12 yards slightly to the left side, but a defender was on hand to incredibly block off the line to keep to scores tied at 0-0. This was just another chance to add to the long line that the Sky Blues couldn't put away. We were punished for this when on the stroke of half time, Bostwick broke free of his marker Ricketts to nod across Charles-Cook into the far corner, you couldn't help but feel like this was coming given that we were not putting our chances away.

  Jones had been brought on and into the second half we went, but it turned out were punished further, Marcus Maddison burst down the right wing to pass across the box to Lee Angol whom squeezed it into the bottom right corner to put the hosts 2 goals to the good just 5 minutes after coming on as a substitute. We made subs of our own, making way was Gael Bigirimana who was replaced by a more attacking option in the form of Darius Henderson.

 Four minutes later and the Sky Blues had got one back, Murphy sprinted down the left wing and played the ball into an un-marked Cole. He slotted past Alnwick and with 20 minutes to go, you could see us potentially doing what we usually do when we face Peterborough and come back from 2-0 down to win 3-2. Bursting through on goal just seconds later was substitute Henderson, he looked as if he was going to bag the equaliser but unfortunately fell over as he was about to take a shot on goal.

 With 20 minutes remaining, a defensive mistake from Vincelot gifted Harry Beautyman the ball, he made it 3-1 and that, was all she wrote. Bringing on the super sub Marcus Tudgay wasn't enough to mount a comeback so the game finished 3-1. An absolutely abysmal result considering we absolutely dominated the first half only to go into the break leading. Something which we had to take on the chin going into the next match at home to Colchester. Which will be the next 'A View From The Stands'..

 My Man Of The Match - Jacob Murphy - He made good runs down the wings and had a couple of good attempts on goal which obviously couldn't make it in but all in all a decent performance from the Norwich loanee. This takes him to 3 awards for the season, could we see Jacob get a couple of late awards to steal the man of the season crown? Only time will tell.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

My Thirty-Ninth 15/16 Game - Coventry City vs Swindon Town

  Off the back of a crucial win away at Blackpool, Coventry faced Swindon at the Ricoh arena, it feels like I'm saying this every match but we absolutely unequivocally HAD to in the match to stay within touching distance of the play offs. Swindon came into the match in good form, unbeaten in seven matches. They were certainly be looking to make it 8 against us so we would need to be wary of their attacking options such as new League One top goalscorer Nicky Ajose.

 As for the team, this is how we began the game:

Lorentszon Martin Stephens Ricketts
                   Fleck    Vincelot
           Rose                     Cole
               Armstrong Fortune

 Armstrong playing up front with Fortune obviously worked at Blackpool as both started alongside each other once more. However switching from Maddison and Murphy to Rose and Cole seemed like an odd move considering we won, but it does seem like Maddison's head has been in Norwich ever since his big money move on deadline day.

 Another thing to note going into the game was the loan capture of Jodi Jones with a view to a permanent deal in the summer, I'm not sure what to make of this deal but he does look like a very bright prospect for the future, maybe he will get some game time from now unitl the end of the season so fans can see whether or not this purchase will be the rumoured £500k fee.

  The first action of the game was a free kick for the visitors, some fans thought it had crept in the top corner but it had in fact hit the net holder and rolled along the wrong side of the net. Sky Blues fans had some fun taunting the 2,500 Swindon following. We got a taste of our own medicine however when Andy Rose's headed goal was pulled back for offside just a couple of minutes later.

  Fortune also had a chance to put City 1-0 up and nearly lobbed Tyrell Belford but the effort went just wide of the mark. This wrapped up a fairly dull first half, hopefully the second would be a lot more entertaining. To be honest, it wasn't. Swindon had a couple of half chances but nothing clear cut, there was only one more moment to talk about, this was in injury time.

 After a corner was cleared only as far as Vincelot, you could see another man readying himself for a shot on goal. The Frenchman played the ball into the box, big Darius chested it down and on the half volley struck it from 10 yards. There was only one place this was destined to go, unfortunately, Belford managed to crush Darius Henderson's dreams by tipping it over the bar out for a corner.

 This was how the game ended, even more unfortunately, results went in our favour so a win could've taken us back into sixth, this wasn't to be however. All we can do is pick ourselves up and try again in the next match. That match is Peterborough away, which will be the Fortieth 'A View From The Stands'.

 My Man Of The Match - Jack Stephens - The centre back had a decent solid game and obviously kept a clean sheet. This is his second award for my little mini thing, as I said, I hope he will be able to bag a couple more before the end of the season as he's been solid since joining in January.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

My Thirty-Eighth 15/16 Game - Blackpool vs Coventry City

Four defeats on the bounce for the Sky Blues going into the big away day of the season, Blackpool. Our game in hand and opportunity to move back into the play offs had completely gone, times were tough for the Sky Blues. Blackpool however would be the perfect opportunity try and get back on track due to their awful season and past couple of years. It's quite sad what has happened to that football club, I won't go into too much detail but if you want to know more, my good friend Matty Roper has a post on it:

 Aside from Blackpool's dramatic decline in recent years, the Sky Blues fielded a positive squad:

Ricketts Stephens Martin Stokes
              Vincelot Fleck
            Murphy Maddison
           Armstrong Fortune


 Fortune's performance against Shrewsbury warranted him another match and maybe this time he could match that and bag a goal to add to his lets face it, very empty bag. Starting two strikers is an interesting decision but hopefully they can play off each other very well. Murphy and Maddison on both wings could also be key, something needs to be done to stop our current slump and maybe dropping Joe Cole to the bench is just that.

  The 3,000 Sky Blues fans were in their seats, accompanied by beach balls and inflatables alike, if ever the fans could win the team a game, it was now. The first 20 minutes of the match were quiet, the sky blues were getting more of the possession, and had a few half chances such as Vincelot's header or Jacob Murphy's 25-yard attempt which sailed wide. No proper chances were being carved out.

 That was until the 26th minute when a corner was put into the box which Doyle flapped at, the ball landed at the one and only Fortune's feet, he smashed home from 2 yards out to put the Sky Blues 1-0 up and send the fans into scenes of jubilation. Almost immediately after, the Sky Blues were nearly on the receiving end of a potential goal of the season candidate but the volley was hit narrowly over the bar.

  A Coventry break almost resulted in a second after a break from Murphy down the left side saw him play a ball into Armstrong where a deflection took his shot around the post. The second half didn't see much action to talk about at all. After we had made all our three subs one of the worst things possible happened, Chris Stokes was stretchered off injured with 10 minutes still to play. This was made even more agonising when 7 minutes were added on at the end.

 The final talking point of the game came from a free kick for the Seasiders in the 97th minute, a ball was lumped into the box. A mini game of head tennis occurred before Uche Ikpezeau poked over Reice Charles-Cook, literally, the goal was ruled out for handballed and city recorded their first win in nearly a month.

 A very much needed win, quite scrappy, but 3 points nonetheless. This win reignites play off hopes and the Sky Blues will be wondering whether their team can still finish in the top 6 come the end of May. Personally I still don't know, but there is a chance we could do it. The next 'A View From The Stands' is our home match to Swindon Town where a win could really give us hope of promotion again.

 My Man Of The Match - Marc-Antoine Fortune - He matched his performance against Shrewsbury and this time added a goal to his (n)ever growing tally, this takes him to 2 awards, could we potentially be seeing a late charge for the Man of the season award at the end? Only time will tell.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

My Thirty-Seventh 15/16 Game - Shrewsbury Town vs Coventry City

 If you remember back to the reverse fixture where a great Sky Blues side picked apart relegation threatened Shrewsbury 3-0 with goals from Armstrong and Fortune in just another instalment to their title change. Fast Forward 6 months and we had slipped out of the play offs all season thanks to frankly shocking form since December began. One silver lining is that this Shrewsbury match was our game in hand and a win would take us back above Barnsley into sixth place and more importantly the illustrious play off places.

  Much like the reverse fixture, Fortune started, this time alongside Armstrong as two strikers. Behind them were a midfield four of Murphy, Fleck, Vincelot and Cole. Looking at our back four there was one thing my eyes were drawn to, Aaron Martin starts. Given our defensive crisis he would be welcomed back with open arms into a struggling Sky Blues team.

 The match started extremely well, John Fleck stung the palms of Halstead from 30 yards however he could only parry straight into the path of the defensive messiah Aaron Martin who stabbed home, suspicions of offside were put to rest by replays. The feeling was a sense of elation that hadn't properly been felt since Tudgay's equaliser against Fleetwood. We were leading a game just four minutes in, what were we going to do with such power?

 Unfortunately this power only lasted a total of 5 minutes when some quick fire passing led to Kaikai rounding Charles-Cook and our defenders left wondering what on earth. Sure we'd conceded but the game was still ours, we were controlling tempo and had possession most of the time. We were even mounting attacks through the unlikely play maker of Marc-Antoine Fortune who was playing some great passes.

 John Fleck had the opportunity to re-take the lead through a free kick. It struggled under the wall and found it's way to Stokes who somehow wasn't able to stick it either side of the keeper but wasn't able to. Still 1-1. 5 minutes before the break, Stokesy gave away a free kick himself on the Right wing. Poor defending meant that Shaun Walley had a free header to flick on into the far corner. Out of nowhere we were losing this game.

  The showing after the break was very depressing, all of the main chances went to Shrewsbury. Reice Charles-Cook put in an absolute shift to keep it at 2. Darius Henderson was brought on as a big target man to snatch an equaliser and in the 92nd minute he got his moment, he leapt like a salmon and forced it towards goal, it looked destined to smash the top corner. By that, I mean he got the faintest of touches and fouled there defender in the process, cheers Darius.

 Three losses on the bounce, and a missed opportunity to get back into the play offs, I don't know how to describe what is going with us. The next 'A View From The Stands' will be our big away day trip to Blackpool, we're in desperate need of a win to even attempt to salvage anything for our season. Hopefully the backing of over 3,000 Coventry fans will be enough to get us through. I mean, I already now what's happening as I'm that far behind, but either way...

 My Man Of The Match - Marc-Antoine Fortune - He's done it, you may doubt him but he was our best player. Hopefully he can carry that through to Blackpool. This is 'surprisingly' his first award of the season but maybe he can pose a late charge to nick the title from the main contenders of Lameiras, Stokes, Armstrong, Charles-Cook and Cole.

My Thirty-Sixth 15/16 Game - Coventry City vs Rochdale

Between this fixture and the Fleetwood match, we had a trip to Barnsley in which we were defeated 2-0 however we still stood in the final play off spot on goal difference with a game in hand still to play but we needed to pick up our form against mid-table Rochdale.

 The Sky Blues fielded a strong side with Reice Charles-Cook in goal, a back four of Ricketts, Stephens, Cargill and Stokes. Fleck and Vincelot played in the holding midfield spots just behind Lameiras, Maddison and Cole. Adam Armstrong was the sole striker up front. Corey Addai made it on to the bench as second choice Lee Burge is out injured for the remainder of the season at the very least.

  The first action of the game came when Ruben Lameiras split open the Rochdale defence to find Joe Cole who only managed to have a snapshot which he only managed to strike straight at the keeper. James Maddison then nutmegged two players before getting a shot away from his weaker foot which was comfortably saved.

 We thought we had gone 1-0 up when Adam Armstrong volleyed home but it was pulled back for offside which turned out to be marginally, but the right call nonetheless. Piling on the attack, Adam Armstrong forced a great save when he shot on the half volley from distance, it seemed like only a matter of time before the Sky Blues broke the deadlock.

 Just a few minutes into the second half and Rochdale got their first chance on the board, from the edge of the box the ball was struck toward the top of the goal but Charles-Cook managed to tip over the bar. From the resulting corner the Sky Blues were dealt a massive stroke of luck. A free header in the centre of the box was blocked off the line by Rochdale's own Ian Henderson, this was a sign we needed to bury our chances or we would be punished for not doing so.

  In the dying embers of the game Rochdale were desperately trying to cling on to a draw so were running the ball into the corner doing everything they could. However all it took was a turn, a pass and a reckless John Fleck challenge to give Dale a penalty in the 89th minute which Henderson converted, consigning the Sky Blues to defeat in the last seconds.

 Heartbreak in losing it that way but when you don't take your chances then that is always going to be happening, it angers me very much. The next 'A View From The Stands' will be the Tuesday night Shrewsbury away game which feels like years ago. For this I can only apologise, but I am determined to catch up all of the ones I am behind. Bare with me!

My Man Of The Match - Jack Stephens - For the most part of the game very solid, not his fault the goal was conceded and whenever he heads the ball it goes back towards their goal than flicked on toward ours, just a shame his partner in crime Baily Cargill was subbed off injured. This is Stephens' first award since joining on deadline day.