Friday, 29 July 2016

My Fifth 16/17 Game - Coventry City vs Nuneaton Town

  Ever get the feeling of deja vu? Well for the second time this pre-season, the Sky Blues lined up at Liberty Way to face Nuneaton Town. This report isn't going to be as long as the usual one, because it's obviously very similar to the one I did only 3 weeks ago.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Charles-Cook
Willis
Harries
Leahy
Dion Kelly-Evans
Haynes
Rose
Gadzhev
Thomas
Lameiras
Sordell

Substitutes:

Skuza
Whitmore
Shipley
Devon Kelly-Evans
Tudgay
Jones
Stevenson
Maycock
Trialist (Robert)

 We only won 2-1 first time around, and although pre-season results don't matter, I wanted something bigger now that the squad has had more time to gel as a bunch. It looked like this would happen as early on we were gifted with 2 goals, first Lameiras cut in from the right on to his left foot to smash in to the top corner after just 3 minutes. Dion Kelly-Evans then doubled lead before the 10 minute mark by looping the goalkeeper with a header. I don't know how he did it either, he's 5 foot 5. To put that into perspective he's shorter than my mum. Thankfully though, it was 2-0.

 The rest of the first half was rather dull, going into the second half we proceeded to make changes, the entire subs bench came on except Skuza. I'll say that rather than go through them all. Sordell nearly put the ball in the top corner before being replace by Tudgay. I feel sorry for Marvin, he has been on the verge of scoring ever since joining but hasn't managed it just yet. I think once he does get that goal it might snowball, we live in hope.

 However making a big claim for a starting spot against Swindon, Marcus Tudgay made an immediate impact by lobbing the keeper making it 3 goals to nil. Shaq McDonald got a consilation for Nuneaton, an out of the blue chance but he took it well by smashing it past Charles-Cook into the far corner. These were the last actions of the game. But not the last action of the evening, I managed to make a 35 minute walk to the train station in just 18 minutes and make the train by a split second. When I sat down as I got on it, it honestly felt like one of the proudest moments of my entire life.

 I told you it wasn't going to be as long as the usual ones but thank you for reading a slightly more light-hearted post on 'A View From The Stands'. You could perhaps say this game was "the calm before the storm" as the next match I will be writing about is the Swindon fixture, the first league match of the season. But before that, my season preview should be up some time in midweek.

 My Man Of The Match - Ruben Lameiras - It's no secret I'm a big fan of Ruben's, he played some great football on the wing tonight. It's been thrown about quite a lot, but his combination on either wing with Jodi Jones and with now competition in Kyel Reid, I can really see him shining in the upcoming season. Let's hope I'm correct.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

My Fourth 16/17 Game - Norwich City vs Coventry City

 Our penultimate friendly took us to East Anglia for our biggest game yet. For what I assume had something to do with the Maddison deal, we faced Norwich City at Carrow Road. Speaking of Maddison, his reception from the Coventry City faithful wasn't the best however new permanent team mate Jacob Murphy was well respected thanks to his spell in Sky Blue. Personally at this point I would take Murphy back with open arms. The pair of ex Sky Blue boys began on the bench.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Charles-Cook
Willis
Harries
Leahy
Gadzhev
Rose
Haynes
Dion Kelly-Evans
Sordell
Spence
Thomas

Coventry City Substitutes:

Skuza
Devon Kelly-Evans
Stevenson
Maycock
Shipley
Whitmore
Hickman
Trialist
Thompson

 It really scares me that when I first saw this side my initial reactions were "Oh, pretty much our strongest side then". That should not be our strongest side, it's full of youth players. There's just over a week until the first game of the season and we don't have a full squad yet. Right now I have barely any hope for the upcoming year. Let's just pray that I can be more positive when I do my season review next week.

 Early on and Charles-Cook had work to do when he was forced to make a diving save to his left in the third minute. Pre-match I thought we were going to get absolutely tanked by Norwich, so it was no surprise to me when Hoolahan put the Canaries a goal to the good after just 9 minutes of play. I did think we were not playing too badly however, Marvin Sordell had a shot blocked which then went out for a corner. Nothing came from this set piece though and it stayed 1-0.

  Charles-Cook was put to work once more after 25 minutes when he parried straight into the path of Hoolahan. He recovered extremely well to make sure that he kept it out. Only a few minutes later we had an attack of our own, direct from a free kick 25 yards out, Gadzhev cannoned the ball off of the crossbar. It remained 1-0.

 For the beginning of the second period we saw the familiar faces of Maddison and Murphy come on to the pitch. It took a whole 3 minutes for Maddison to fall over for the first time and the penalty appeal to be turned down. This was met by some Coventry fans slating James slightly to put it lightly. Trialist Fabien Robert replaced Kyle Spence as we neared the hour mark. Personally I felt this was a bit curious due to the fact Mowbray has already said that he wasn't too impressed by Robert at the Newport match. Perhaps he was giving him a last chance at Carrow Road.

Josh Murphy doubled Norwich's lead after 66 minutes when he curled past Charles-Cook into the top right corner. 10 minutes remaining and we took off our only remaining striker in Marvin Sordell for Defensive Midfielder Callum Maycock, I'm not really sure why but it was done. The other Murphy twin Jacob rounded off a great performance by combining with Maddison to make it 3-0. This was how the game finished.

 Apologies if I don't go into too much detail, due to this being a night fixture in Norwich I am very tired whilst writing this so you'll have to excuse me this one time. 3-0 is better than what I originally thought it would be so I suppose I'll take that. I also think the scoreline flatters Norwich slightly, we weren't better by a long stretch but certainly were no push overs. The final friendly and the fifth report of the season will be our fixture against Doncaster Rovers at Nuneaton Town.

My Man Of The Match - Vladmir Gadzhev - The Bulgarian midfielder finally looks as if he is adjusting to the English game. Hopefully by the time we get to Swindon he is a tank in the middle of the park and a force to be reckoned with. This is his first award of the season.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

My Third 16/17 Game - Newport County vs Coventry City

 Now in the full swing of pre-season, Coventry City travelled to Newport for our fourth friendly. Winning 2 and losing 1 so far, we would be looking to keep our good form against English clubs by defeating a Welsh side! It's very hard to find motivation for going to a friendly which is a 2 hour drive away, in a different country, and not even at Newport's actual ground so isn't another one to tick off my list of the full 92. Also, supporting a team which is in an absolute state at the moment. But then I thought of the enjoyment I get out of following the Sky Blues so put my name down for the coach there. So after a 6:15 start and a fry-up, I made the journey to Newport.

 We arrived, having some good banter at the nearby cricket club but then as I looked on Twitter to look for team news I was greeted by Bradford's account informing we that we had sold Romain Vincelot to The Bantams. It's fair to say we were all fuming, we all assumed SISU had done it through the back door and wouldn't be surprised if Tony Mowbray walked. But when we spoke to him at the ground he informed us it was his decision and he had plans to reinvest. I'm not convinced because I assume the sum is low but I have trust that Mowbray will do as promised.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Charles-Cook
Willis
Harries
Leahy
Haynes
Dion Kelly-Evans
Gadzhev
Rose
G Thomas
Sordell
Tudgay

Coventry City Substitutes:

Skuza
Devon Kelly-Evans
Stevenson
Spence
Maycock
Shipley
Whitmore
Thompson
Trialist

 We stuck with the 3-4-3, having a back three of Harries, Willis and Leahy isn't something I thought I would like to have at the start of the season but it'll do for now. Now both Fleck and Vincelot are gone it will be hard to adapt to seeing Rose and Gadzhev but it'll have to do once again. I like our wing backs currently as well as our very attacking forwards of Thomas, Sordell and Tudgay. Hopefully those guys will bring us in barrels of goals next season, at least we can dream.

  This will be a hard report to write due to the lack of action. But the first piece came just under 20 minutes into the match. I'm not sure who but a Newport striker went through on goal and let fly, it hit the post from 18 yards and then rocketed into the back of the net only for him to be pulled back for offside. Being honest I'm not sure whether it was or not as I couldn't see, the outlay of Newport's old stadium is a very weird one.

 The first goal however came on the stroke of half time. George Thomas slotted home similarly to his goal against Rugby but either way it was 1-0 to the Sky Blues. Half time the blew up on a very dull first half of football despite the goal. We made our first substitution when the goalscorer George Thomas was replaced by "Trialist". Throughout the second half there was speculation as to who this guy was, but post match Tony Mowbray confirmed that it was Fabien Robert formerly of Swindon as well as that Kyle Reid is training with the Sky Blues.

  On 57 minutes we managed to double our lead when a Trialist corner was headed on to the bar by Andy Rose, the rebound was scrambled in by Jordan Willis. Just 2 minutes later and Willis was replaced by youngster Jacob Whitmore. The rest of the match carried on quite poorly, nothing was happening. We made a triple change with 15 minutes to go. Sordell, Rose and Tudgay came off for Spence, Devon Kelly-Evans and Stevenson respectively.

 5 minutes later another triple change came in, Thompson, Maycock and Shipley replaced Harries, Gadzhev and Haynes. We played the final 10 minutes with a very young side with a lot to prove, the youngsters managed to hold out the final 10 minute however, Kelly-Evans nearly made it 3-0 when he hit the post in injury time. The game finished 2-0, but once again I will say that it doesn't mean anything as it's only pre-season.

 What I will say however is Tony Mowbray told me to not expect much from this side today and they won 2-0. I'll let you ponder on that. There was under 100 fans there in Wales today but I expect there to be even less as we travel to Carrow Road on Tuesday night for our penultimate friendly. This will be the fourth 'A View From The Stands' of the season as we edge ever closer to August 6th and the start of the season.

My Man Of The Match - Jordan Willis - A good centre back performance from the makeshift captain was capped off by a goal in the second half. If he can get through a full season unlike last year then I can see him really picking up form in the next 12 months. Let's hope this really materialises into something good for Willis.


Tuesday, 19 July 2016

My Second 16/17 Game - Rugby Town vs Coventry City

 When an "away" game is closer to your home than a home game, it is a very weird feeling, which is what I experienced as my favourite side faced my local side at Butlin Road, a place I regularly play football in sight of at the nearby Astro Turf pitches. But as for my affiliation with the club itself, it goes no further than a Football Manager save I eventually give up on (Currently I have them in 3rd place in the Conference North and still going strong), or as far as knowing a couple of players in the side. But enough about me and down to business, this is the third friendly the Sky Blues have taken part in, after beating Nuneaton 2-1 10 days previous, then travelling to Austria for a training camp where we faced local side SK Sturm Graz and narrowly lost 3-2 against the former Champions League side.

 That is not a bad result in the slightest but we would be looking to give other players a chance rather than our nailed on senior squad as it is against some part timers in the eighth tier. Even when the fixture was announced it was clearly advertised that we would be sending a "Coventry City XI." My pre-match squad prediction was a mix of U18s and U21s as well as the veteran duo of Marcus Tudgay and Sam Ricketts to keep them in check,

Coventry City Starting XI:

Charles-Cook
Dion Kelly-Evans
Harries
Leahy
Whitmore
Shipley
Stevenson
Maycock
G Thomas
Spence
Tudgay

Coventry City Substitutes:

Addai
Gadzhev
Haynes
Devon Kelly-Evans
Sayoud
Lameiras
Hickman
Bayliss
Thompson

  I wasn't too far off with my prediction, it was just the absence of Ricketts I got wrong. this meant that Tudgay led the line as the most senior member and one of only 2 players in the starting eleven above the age of 20. We had some impact subs if needs be but unfortunately Jodi Jones had to miss out as he picked up an injury during the warm up but has insured it was just a precaution and that he should be back very soon. Youngsters or not, this side should be able to beat eighth tier Rugby with only 1 player I've heard of; 35 goal a season striker on my football manager save David Kolodynski.

  We got off to a nightmare start when a defensive mishap put Kolodynski through on goal to slot past Charles-Cook putting the home side a goal to the good. I couldn't help but think the experienced head of Sam Ricketts would have really helped out in this sort of situation. It took us another 10 minutes to have a real attempt on goal and that came in the form of George Thomas going through and the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant point blank save to keep Rugby in the lead.

 Another 6 minutes later and we did manage to equalise, Kyle Spence got the goal when he slotted directly through Connor's legs from the middle of the box. Only a minute later the game was stopped for a water break, believe me, they needed it as the game was played in the sweltering heat of 32 degrees. There was one each half about midway through even though it was an evening kick off. Back in business and Thomas tested the keeper once again from 18 yards, he made a diving save and pushed it out to his left.

Reice Charles-Cook had to make a great save to tip over a Kolodynski header 10 minutes before half time. I'm not sure who it was who played the pass but it was a sensational one to put Thomas one on one with the keeper having beaten the offside trap. Under immense pressure having only the keeper to beat he kept his cool and completed the second nutmeg goal of the night. I would say normality had been resumed as aside from their two Kolodynski attempts we were easily the better team.

 From the off the second half was dull, the changes didn't really seem to do much. The only thing I can think of was the obscene amount of offside decisions we had go against us throughout that second period. It really was that bad. But after a few more substitutions, sidewards passes and a water break the game finished. Our second 2-1 victory of pre-season. We now have to go onto our next fixture against Newport County, I will be making the trip to Wales to report as always on 'A View From The Stands'.

My Man Of The Match - George Thomas - If it weren't for the great game that Rugby goalkeeper Connor had then George would have a hat trick, instead he walked away with just the one goal. I really hope he can press on in this upcoming season as he is one of the best youth prospects at the club.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

CCFC Where Are They Now #1 - Leon McKenzie

 Born in Croydon, a product of Crystal Palace's youth academy, Leon McKenzie had to go through Palace, Norwich and Peterborough before making the Deadline Day £600,000 switch to the Sky Blues back in 2006. It's just a shame that we have nowhere near that money to splash out on players these days. He didn't have the most glittering of three years with us but still provided some good moments in a Coventry shirt, such as netting in the 4-0 opening day win over Barnsley in 2007.

 He scored once again not long after against Hull but unfortunately we were unable to see whether this would materialise into some proper goalscoring form as he was ruled out for several weeks with a knee injury. McKenzie scored again at the start of the 08/09 season versus former club Norwich, this just happened to be his 100th career goal and he celebrated it appropriately by unveiling a vest under his shirt with "100" written on it.

 This was to be his last year with Coventry however as in September 2009 he transferred to Charlton. In his 1 year there he only scored once, against Southampton in the Football League Trophy. Sadly, Leon battled depression whilst playing in London and speaking in 2011 he admitted to attempting suicide during this very dark period of his life.

 After being released by Charlton he somewhat got his career back on track at Northampton as he got 10 goals in his 27 appearances. For those of you who are good at maths you will know that that its a 1 n 2.7 ratio which is fairly decent yet he still only lasted just the one season up in the Midlands. It was becoming fairly obvious that he was in his football twilight years so not many were surprised when he announced his retirement from professional football on 17th December 2011 at the age of 33. In the February of 2012 he was sentenced to 6 months in prison for trying to avoid speeding charges but upon exit he made an instant return to football.

 His last ever club, Corby Town, he made 12 appearances in his 5 months scoring 3 goals. On New Years Day 2013 he made his final appearance for Corby and then retired for a second and final time. He didn't have the best career to have graced the planet, he just failed to recapture the form of his days at Peterborough. Tinkering too much with his club meant he paid the price and eventually fizzled out.

 If you thought this was the end of Leon McKenzie then you would be wrong, whilst it wasn't football, he followed in his fathers footsteps and became a professional boxer. Since his first fight back in 2013 which he won after it was stopped in the second round he has entered the ring 8 more times, winning 7 and drawing 1. Overall 8 wins and 1 draw.

 After defeating John McCallum in October last year he is now on for a UK Super-Middleweight title, let's hope the former Cov lad can do it! Aside from sport he also does talks where he tries to raise awareness for people with depression so Leon is definitely doing something right. This is a sort of series of posts I am starting, let me know if this is something that interests you in the comments of whichever Social Media I have placed this on. Although I have a couple of players in mind, do let me know if you have any suggestions for which former Sky Blue man I could look into next!

Saturday, 9 July 2016

My First 16/17 Game - Nuneaton Town vs Coventry City

 After a two month wait since Oldham on the final day, Coventry City are finally back in business with our first pre-season match, the annual trip to Nuneaton Town. Personally I'd been looking forward to this one for absolutely ages to get a first look at the new Sky Blue side with no loans and pretty much down to bare bones. The loss of John Fleck to league rivals Sheffield United could really hit us hard going in to the new campaign so that's why it's crucial both Rose and Gadzhev step up to the plate. We are also looking forward to seeing whether Marvin Sordell, George Thomas or Kwame Thomas are able to emulate Adam Armstrong's heroics of last season. All of these question will be answered in the coming months, but Nuneaton was our first glimpse.

Coventry Starting XI:
Burge
Vincelot
Leahy
Ricketts
Whitmore
Maycock
Rose
Haynes
Lameiras
Tudgay
Dev. Kelly-Evans

 Obviously in pre-season you need to get a good idea of who's going to start come August and gives a chance for players to impress, that is why so many youth players played, as well as us changing the entire squad at the break. Young players eager to impress would be Leahy, Whitmore, Maycock and Devon Kelly-Evans whom all played a part in the U21 set-up last season. We also had the experienced heads of Ricketts and Tudgay in there to keep the youngsters in check, with Ricketts telling the armband.

First Half:

Just 4 minutes into the game and the Sky Blues had a scare with a pinball machine situation in the box, Lee Burge had to pull out a wonderful save to scoop the ball off the line to keep the scores at 0-0. 3 minutes later Marcus Tudgay had a half chance from a corner but nodded wide, if there's one thing we do need to improve it is our set pieces, if Reda Johnson officially leaves then we have no aerial threat. However on the other hand a positive to take from our current squad is that we have very skilful and pacy wingers, we saw this when Ryan Haynes (A natural full back) made a run down the left side only to drag off to the right. It remained goalless.

 We then had our best chance of the half so far after 26 minutes when Lameiras cut down the right wing on to his left foot, opened his body up and let fly. The shot cannoned off the crossbar but the Sky Blues carried on pressing, but it was Nuneaton whom had the next chance with their number 8, I can't give names because they had none, shooting just wide. 7 minutes before the break and Haynes began to rip the Nuneaton right back to pieces once more, he left him for dead and laid the ball off to RubĂ©n Lameiras, he made no mistake this time and stuck the ball in the top corner making it a long-awaited one goal lead to the Sky Blues.
                   CCFC fans turned up in great numbers to see their side face Nuneaton Town.

 On the stroke of half time Ryan Haynes went down the wing once again but this time slipped the ball straight to Devon Kelly-Evans, he was one on one with the keeper, he took his time very well and Cruyffed the keeper and tapped in to an open net doubling our lead. Going into half time with a 2-0 lead the new squad would have a good head start for the second period.


Second Half Coventry XI:
Charles-Cook
Willis
Harries
Finch
Dion Kelly-Evans
Gadzhev
Stevenson
Shipley
G Thomas
Jones
Sordell

 11 new faces unless you count Devon's identical twin Dion but it was a similar situation to the first, with Harries, Stevenson, Shipley and George Thomas all playing having come through the youth academy. Jordan Willis played his first match in nearly a year after he got injured very early on, he took the armband for the second 45 minutes. Marvin Sordell made his first appearance and as the marquee signing so far everyone was very eager to see how he would get on and hoped he would bag a goal.
                         Marvin Sordell and George Thomas lined up in the second half in attack.
Second Half:

Sordell got involved almost straight away when from a corner he sliced over the bar. On the 68th minute Deneis Whitehouse headed from point-blank range but Charles-Cook pulled off a wonderful save to keep our 2-0 lead. But the keeper in full yellow could do nothing about the 25-yard half volley effort which zoomed past him to make the game interesting again and leave us with a slightly uncomfortable final 10 minutes but as it was a pre-season friendly the result doesn't mean to much.

 We carried on trying to go for a third goal however, George Thomas had a crack from 18 yards but shot straight down the keeper's throat. Then wth just 4 minutes remaining Marvin Sordell almost matched Lameiras' effort from the first half but this time hit the post instead of the bar. In his 45 minutes he played fairly well but will need some more time to prove himself before Swindon on the 6th of August. But his effort was the last action of the game as in our first pre-season friendly.

One thing I am slightly concerned about is the performance of John Fleck replacement Gadzhev, he clearly doesn't seem ready for the fierceness of the English game just yet, he needs a lot of work before we begin our campaign in less than a month, but aside from that it was a very promising win, but then again as I have said, pre-season means nothing when the real thing begins.

 I'm very glad to be back writing about Coventry and hope to do it just as much next season. I would love to say that the second 'A View From The Stands' will be against Saudi Araban side side Al Ettiifaq during our tour of Austria but it is very unlikely I will be making the trip over for obvious reasons. So due to that the actual second post will be our tie against Rugby Town at Butlin Road which will be a special one as it is against my home town club,

My Man Of The Match - Ryan Haynes - It's very hard to pick a man of the match when everyone played 45 minutes but during the first half he was a brilliant option down the left-wing providing the attacking options with ammunition, if he plays like that I can see him giving Chris Stokes a run for his money in the left-back position next season.