Saturday, 29 October 2016

My Twenty-Second 16/17 Game - Walsall vs Coventry City

 If we dismiss the Charlton defeat as a one off, our form has been great recently. We have turned the Ricoh Arena into a fortress as we are unbeaten there in 14 matches in all competitions, our best home run since 1977. Despite this though, we are still in the relegation zones. However a win against Walsall and then another in our game in hand against Chesterfield on Tuesday could put us in the top half of the table.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Sterry
Willis
Turnbull
Page

Stevenson
Bigirimana
Rose

Lameiras
Sordell
Agyei

Coventry City Substitutes:

Charles-Cook
Ricketts
Maycock
Reid
Jones
Wright
Tudgay

Interestingly Gadzhev was nowhere to be seen in the squad, instead youngster Callum Maycock filled in on the bench. Unless he's injured I can only imagine something has gone on behind closed doors between him and Venus meaning he has been dropped. Either way, I'm glad that our midfield 3 is what it is. Andy Rose returning has come at the perfect time now that McCann is injured for the next 3-4 weeks.

First Half

  The first half an hour was a fairly dull affair, we had a couple of half chances however. Lameiras cut in from the right wing and from just outside the box he curled one just round the post in the first 10 minutes. Gael Bigirimana also had an attempt on the volley from distance but spooned it wide instead.

 Even though it wasn't the most spectacular half of football I've ever seen, it would be a fair assessment to say that we were the better side. It looked however as if the match would be going into the break goalless, that was until Sordell went on a run down the right wing and played it into Andy Rose whom on the volley struck it beyond Etheridge.

 On the stroke of half time we had a big shout for a penalty turned down, Bigirimana ran through and had to take it to the byline. He was in a race with Etheridge to the ball and won, Etheridge, (Controversial opinion coming up) went in with his feet and brought Bigi to the ground. Now I don't want to be biased and if when the highlights come out I am proved wrong then I will happily eat humble pie, but to me it looked like a stone wall penalty. Not only was it not given however, but the Burundi international was booked for simulation also.

Second Half

 We carried on our pressure in the second half, Agyei megged the last defender with a 20 yard shot, Etheridge didn't see it until late so did well to push it past the post. We had a reality check with 35 minutes to go. Lee Burge made a great save to deny Morris, and the rebound was spooned wide. We should have used this as a wake up call to be more careful defensively, unfortunately for us though, we did not.

  I'm being harsh with how I'm talking about the defensive regarding their goal, to be fair to them, it was a great goal. It reminded me of Jack Wilshire's against Norwich a couple of years ago. Quick passes and flicks so before anyone could do anything Oztumer had stuck it past Burge to get the Saddlers an equaliser.

 Not taking anything from the goal, it's quite upsetting that it sprang from Ben Stevenson being brought down the edge of the box in a blatant foul which wasn't given. What's more annoying is, the goal could be put down to Venus for taking Andy Rose off for Jodi Jones and moving to a 4-2-4 when we were 1-0. I understand we don't want to rush him back after a couple of months out but it seemed as soon as that decision was made our control of the game was taken away.

 Walsall could have stolen it late on when Kinsella spooned it wide in the dying seconds, luckily he didn't. It should have been 3 points, could have been 0 points, but it turned out to be a share of the spoils. I'd have taken a point pre-match so I'm not too disappointed with the result. Next up we have our crucial game in hand against Chesterfield where 3 points could put us right in the middle of the chasing pack, I look forwards to it.

My Man of The Match - Jordan Willis - On his 100th appearance for the club, the skipper had another great performance for the second week in a row. Although saying that, had Andy Rose played the full 90 minutes then he probably would have got it. Either way, the captain leader legend has his second award of the season.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

My Twenty-First 16/17 Game - Coventry City vs Rochdale

 Before I begin let me get a couple of things straight, I respect each and every one of you that boycotted the match today. I only went in because it would be pointless for me not to, having a season ticket means you will be counted on the attendance whether you go or not. However at this point I can say I won't give a penny more to SISU, nothing purchased in the ground. As for the march, I missed my train getting in to Coventry so I couldn't attend. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to go with all my heart but unfortunately wasn't able to. Now we have that out of the way on to the match we go.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Sterry
Willis
Turnbull
Page

Stevenson
Bigirimana
McCann

Agyei
Sordell
Lameiras

Coventry City Substitutes:

Charles-Cook
Ricketts
Rose
Jones
Reid
Wright
Tudgay

 An unchanged side from the one that beat Oxford on Tuesday night, I hoped Ben Stevenson could have another performance like that one because he was unbelievable. One thing that is different is the return of Andy Rose to the bench, but with ouAgyr midfield playing so well lately, who would you put him in for? The only real option is McCann as he leaves for America at the start of January and you'd want a more permanent side wouldn't you. Rochdale before Tuesday had won 7 on the bounce so certainly weren't going to be pushovers, meaning this side would have to be at their very best if they wanted to come away with 3 points.

First Half

 Rochdale were the better side for most of the 90 minutes, they went through after 5 minutes via Henderson. It took an incredible block by Jordan Willis to stop us going down 1-0 early on. Chris McCann had to go off through injury a bit later and was replaced by Kyel Reid, meaning we went switched to a 4-2-4 formation which seemed to work.

  Agyei should have put us into the lead when he turned the last defender and was 1 on 1 with the keeper, he side footed it on to the post. He could have been put down badly by this, instead, when Lameiras beat his man down the right wing and slotted it across the box he poked it under Lillis. Aside from Turnbull being booked, not much else happened for the remainder of the first half.

Second Half

 For a lot of the second half it looked as if it were only a matter of time before Rochdale equalised. They had a chance 8 minutes in when Henderson again was denied a goal, this time it was Bigirimana who headed it off the line. The pressure continued, Lund struck just wide from 20 yards on the half volley. Henderson carried on causing our defence problems, with 7 minutes remaining he nodded over the bar.

  Rochdale were throwing everything forward, it looked like they were going to get that levelling goal. That was until on the counter, Lewis Page was running down the left wing, he beat his man and squared it to Andre Wright whom had lost his marker. He stretched out to stab it in the bottom right corner, putting us 2 ahead and sealing the victory.

  A game we probably didn't deserve to win, but did. We took our chances whereas the Dale didn't, it's as simple as that. Previously we wouldn't have had the mentality to get the points here, so I'm glad we managed it. Roll on what was once cringily dubbed the "M6 El Clasico" which will be my 22nd match of the season.

 My Man of the Match - Jordan Willis - He came through the academy, making his debut at age 17. 5 years later he is now captain as a 22 year old. Today though he managed to do everything right, he was a vital part of keeping the clean sheet. This is his first award of the season, hopefully of many more to come.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

My Twentieth 16/17 Game - Coventry City vs Oxford United

  Charlton away angered a lot of people, the dire performance turned the dial up on the SISU protests higher than it has been in a long time. Especially after Tim Fisher's comments about how the fans need to stop, as well as hinting that since there is no solution to the Ricoh situation and that we might move out of Coventry once again. Mid-table Oxford were the visitors today however backed by over 2,000 fans, it certainly wasn't going to be an easy match.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Sterry
Willis
Turnbull
Page

Stevenson
Bigirimana
McCann

Lameiras
Sordell
Agyei

Coventry City Substitutes:

Charles-Cook
Ricketts
Gadzhev
Jones
Reid
Wright
Tudgay

 It looks as if Burge has retaken his spot as first team goalkeeper for us, I'm still not sure about him, he did however have a good performance today not to give any spoilers. We made one change from the side on Saturday which got battered by Charlton, by swapping Agyei in for Wright.

First Half

 We nearly took the lead within the first 2 minutes when Gael Bigirimana drove a cross in to Sordell who hit it first time and Eastwood made a great stop to keep it out. The Sky Blues dominated the first 25 minutes so it was to no surprise that we made a breakthrough, the surprise was how the goal came. From 25 yards, Ben Stevenson teed himself up as he wasn't being closed down to shoot and let fly into the top corner.

 We seemed to ease off slightly as the break came nearer, it looked as though half time would be coming with the score at 1-0 to the Sky Blues. Then we launched one forward looking to run the clock down, Sordell chased the last defender down, I don't think he realised how lose the striker was getting. Whatever happened, there was a mix up in communication, the last defender nodded it past his own keeper. Sordell ran past the pair of them and scored the easiest goal of his career with the tap in. A nice 2 goal cushion at the break is always better than one.

Second Half

 I don't know what it was, but we took our foot off the gas a bit for the second half. We did defend well though, however it didn't make for good entertainment, there aren't very many talking points for the second 45. Chris Maguire had a free kick for Oxford, I think everyone in the stands had their heart in their mouth, well, those who remember when he came on loan to us and scored 2 free kicks in 1 match away at MK Dons then was immediately recalled. Burge displayed his great reflexes by pushing it round the post.

  Marcus Tudgay and Kyel Reid replaced Daniel Agyei and Ruben Lameiras respectively in an attempt to try and see out the game. It looked like it was working, until 2 minutes in to injury time when Cov kid Dan Crowley picked out the bottom corner from 18 yards. 2-1. Part of me really thought we would bottle it after this, but we managed to fend off the Oxford advances to hold on for a crucial 3 points.

 The win lifts us off bottom of the table, we're now in 23rd, not the best but better than before, remember we still have that game in hand against Chesterfield which has yet to be rearranged. As for the next match, I will be attending the game against Rochdale on Saturday, some people may frown on that but I've paid for a season ticket so it's not worth not going. I do respect everyone that is boycotting though and hope you are successful.

 My Man of the Match - Ben Stevenson - What a player he is turning out to be, an incredible performance was capped off with an absolute thunderbolt of a strike into the top corner. Him and Gael could be the future of the Coventry midfield, unless the inevitable happens and SISU cash in on the opportunity. I hope this doesn't happen once again though. This is his third award of the season, one behind Bigi.

 

Saturday, 15 October 2016

My Nineteenth 16/17 Game - Charlton Athletic vs Coventry City

 2 weeks from my last Coventry game, we've had international call ups, boycotted EFL Trophy matches, and even a trip to Slovenia since our first win of the season against Port Vale. Now it was very important that we would carry on our form and put everything in to getting 3 points against fellow strugglers in Charlton.

 Before I get on to the match however, we need to address something that happened beforehand. For a couple of weeks now a supporters group from Charlton "CARD - Coalition Against Roland Dutchalet" had teamed up with "Fighting the Jimmy Hill Way Alliance" to make football history in a joint protest between both sets of fans.

It went perfectly, there was a huge turnout, a couple thousand Charlton and near 1k Coventry paraded through the streets of South East London chanting, pleading with both respective owners Roland Dutchalet and SISU.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Sterry
Turnbull
Willis
Page

Stevenson
Bigirimana
McCann

Wright
Sordell
Lameiras

Coventry City Substitutes:

Charles-Cook
Ricketts
Gadzhev
Jones
Reid
Agyei
Tudgay

 The big thing that you could see was the inclusion of Burge even though Charles-Cook is back to fitness. I don't rate Burge and neither do most other fans from what I've seen. Lameiras finally having a chance to shine is something I've been looking for for a while, so I was glad to see him making the starting eleven.


First Half

 As soon as the first whistle was blown, the entire pitch was pelted with rubber pigs. I'm sure that you'll have seen it on every social media possible but the game was stopped for 7 minutes thanks to both sets of fans lobbing these small little pigs from all angles of The Valley. The entire match was filled with unity, togetherness aimed at SISU and Roland Dutchalet.

 I'm not going to go into too much detail about the match, mainly because I don't think I can live through it all again. Basically, Page got injured early on so Ricketts came on in his place. Ruben Lameiras had a crack from 25 yards and hit the inside of the post, it trickled back out which was met by our agonising groans.

 As if by magic, Charlton went straight up the other end, hoofed the ball over the top to 5 yards offside Holmes. He poked right past Burge, we were 1-0 down, perhaps undeservedly. This took the game in to half time after a fairly dull 15 minutes, the Addicks did look to be on top as the goal completely took it out of us.

Second Half

 We nearly equalised very early on in the second half, a bit of a pinball defensive situation mean that Rudd pulled off a great save to stop an embarrassing own goal. Ademola Lookman and Josh Magennis went on to add late goals to Charlton's tally to make the game finish 3-0. Both goals were at the fault of Ricketts as well as Burge.

 I apologise that this report is so short, I just can't deal with it any more. But all in all, the day was good, for any Charlton fans reading this I would like to thank all of your fans for everything you did for us today and I hope we returned the favour with our help and also it would be great to see as many of you as possible at the Ricoh in March.

Tuesday night against Oxford is already my 20th match this season which is sad to think about. The FA Cup draw on Monday could give us a good away day for the start of November. Braintree, Plymouth and Pompey are just a few I would love due to one reason or another.

My Man of the Match - Ben Stevenson - He played very well today did our Ben, one of the silver linings in this awful situation is that he's just signed a new 4 year deal with the Sky Blues. Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe he's already got an award, so this brings him to 2. Hopefully he'll clock up a few ore in the next few years. Should we still be a club that is...

Saturday, 8 October 2016

CCFC Where Are They Now #3 - Michael Mifsud

 Last week marked 9 years since "that" night in Manchester which every Coventry City fan over the age of about 12 will have some sort of memory of. To this day it remains my favourite ever away day, or favourite football match I've ever been to for that matter, you know what, I'm going to say it. The best day of my life. So I thought that the best way to celebrate the occasion was to look at the man who ran the show that night, Michael Mifsud.

 He started his footballing career in his home country of Malta where he broke through the Silemma Wanderers academy as a 16-year old in 1997. He quickly looked like something special considering what Malta are used to and this showed in his 4 years at Silemma with 60 goals in 80 games. In 1999 he even managed to bag a trial with Manchester United, obviously nothing came of it though but this did nothing to his confidence as he kept banging them in in the Maltese Premier League.

  Being in hot goalscoring form it wasn't long before his first call up for Malta, and he made his debut against Albania on the 10th of February 2000. This also alerted clubs abroad to his talent, so in the summer of 2001 he signed for Kaiserslauten. He made a good impression in the B team in the German third tier but the Bundesliga first team seemed like it was a step too far as in 21 appearances he only scored twice. This led to his release in January 2005.

 To try and get first team football again he came back to Silemma Wanderers in the January on a deal until the end of the 04/05 season. Once again he showed Malta his talent by bagging 8 in 12 to help Wanderers to the Premier League title. His next move was to Lillestrom in Norway when his Silemma contract expired.

 In the 2006 season, he got 11 goals in 19 matches leaving him as Lillestrom's top goalscorer and was voted the best foreign player in the Norweigan Premier League. Mifsud made it clear that he wanted a move to one of the big countries in Europe, so he was angered when Lillestrom turned down an offer from the Coventry City in Summer 2006.

 However his contract expired at the end of that year so given his desire to move he declined a new contract offer and instead was snapped up by Micky Adams and the Sky Blues on January 10th 2007 on a two-and-a-half-year deal. Adams was sacked just 2 days after the signing of Mifsud and replaced by Iain Dowie.

 He scored a couple before the end of 06/07 against Plymouth and Barnsley respectively, then again on the first day of the 07/08 season against Barnsley. His goal against Sheffield Wednesday won goal of the season for us. We were top of the league when "that" draw came out. Manchester United away, against the Malta interntationals boyhood club. (Glory Supporting at its finest)

 We all know the story of what happened next, he ran the Champions of England ragged and had Gerard Pique in his pocket for 90 minutes. His 2 goals at Old Trafford that night led to one Spanish paper referring to him as 'Il Messi Di Malta', which translates to 'The Messi of Malta'. He really continued to excel and had 15 goals in all competitions by the turn of the year, he was close to 20 by the end of the season.

  You may say this is unrelated, I think it has something to do with it. But I saw the Oasis film Supersonic last week, (Bare with me) and Liam Gallagher said that it was nice they ended at their show at Knebworth in 1995 because it all went downhill afterwards and that they could have done a sequel about the fall of Oasis. I think this is the same with Mifsud but obviously not on the same scale, I wish I could end here when he's just had a great season with Coventry and the best experience of his life against Manchester United, but I can't.

  We were in financial trouble so tried to offload some assets, Mifsud being one of them. We accepted an undisclosed bid from Bristol City, he was packed up and ready to leave until right at the last minute when he decided he wanted more money from the South West club. Long story short, Gary Johnson told him where to go and the transfer was called off.

 After this he never really made it back properly into the Coventry side so was subsequently loaned out to Barnsley in February 2009. He only got 2 goals here so when June 2009 came Chris Coleman announced we would be letting him go. After this he spent a few months unattached to a club yet still made it into the Malta squad every time, this just proves how good he was compared to anything they'd seen in that country.

  Eventually in 2010 he returned to Malta for Valetta, where he somewhat reignited his areer with 7 in 7 but still left at the end of the 09/10 season. Once again he was left without a club for a number of months despite there being interest from America, England and of course Malta amongst other places. Qormi in Malta were the club that eventually got him to put pen to paper back in 2011. It was another brief but definitely prolific spell with 7 goals in 5 games.

 Upon the end of his deal he returned to Valetta on a four year deal. He got 30 goals in just under 60 games in his 2 years which is something you definitely don't turn your nose up at. I say 2 years because in June 2013 he left to move abroad, to Melbourne Heart in Australia more specifically. At the age of 32 he was beginning to win down in his career, and this showed with his football, scoring just the one goal in his season down under.

  In 2014 he returned to where it all began with Silemma Wanderers in Malta, as I've mentioned his age hindered him at this point. He only got 5 in 32, which is nothing compared to what he did in his 4 years between 97 and 01. By this point Wikipedia got bored talking about his career but what I can tell you is that remarkably he is still playing. For none other than Valetta in his third spell there. He still has 2 years left on his contract which should take him to 2018, should he still be playing by that point he will be 37 years of age.

 Throughout this career he managed to accumulate 40 goals in 113 matches for Malta. MALTA. Imagine having better than a 1 in 3 ratio for a country with a population of 450,000 which until 1974 was part of the British empire. Depending on where you're reading this, coincidentally England vs Malta is tonight and Mifsud might make an appearance at Wembley so keep an eye out watching the match.

 The moral of the story here is, whilst you should always reach for the stars, you should also remember to keep your head and not get too big for your boots. Normal match reports resume next week with Charlton away. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

My Seventeenth 16/17 Game - Port Vale vs Coventry City

 Andre Wright spared our blushes on Wednesday night by equalising in the 94th minute but really it's not good enough. Things wouldn't get any easier though as we made the trip to Stoke-on-Trent to see our no win in 10 side play unbeaten at home and 5th placed Vale. I obviously wasn't expecting much, but maybe, just maybe, the managerial change of Mowbray could be the difference.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Sterry
Turnbull
Willis
Page

Stevenson
Bigirimana
McCann

Wright
Sordell
Agyei

Coventry City Substitutes:

Addai
Ricketts
Harries
Gadzhev
Lameiras
Jones
Tudgay

 The one obvious difference between recent weeks and now is the absence of Reice Charles-Cook. He must have been injured because I don't see why caretaker boss Mark Venus would drop him from the squad completely. Kyel Reid also missed out through injury, in his place came Daniel Agyei. Andre Wright came in for Tudgay who's form recently has been poor to say the least.

First Half

Before I begin, can I say that today was the best away day I've been to all season. There were 604 of us there and no one stopped singing for all of the 90 minutes. Even at half time the scenes were incredible. Both sides had a bit of early pressure, but the first real chance came in the 20th minute. Gael Bigirimana had a free kick to the left on the goal, he whipped it in for Turnbull to flick past the post.

 It was around the point of Agyei's disallowed goal for an earlier foul that someone pointed out to me that Tim Fisher was sat in a box to the right of the Sky Blues fans. It's fair to say he got absolutely abused by the Sky Blues faithful, and rightly so in my opinion. SISU have ruined us so it's only fair he takes a bit of stick himself.

 Almost immediately after being booked, Sordell put the Sky Blues 1-0 up. After a big Sky Blues attack in the box, all seemed finished as a Vale centre-back won the ball and looked to clear. Out of nowhere though Bigirimana stole the ball from his feet and fed it in to Sordell whom slotted it past Alnwick to get his third goal in five games. Alex Jones had a half chance but the Sky Blues went in to half time leading 1-0.

Second Half

 We got very lucky to not have Vale equalise just a minute in to the second half with Willis clearing a chance off the line. Things went a a bit dry until 25 minutes to go, a miscommunication at the back meant a goal kick was gifted straight to Agyei on the edge of the box. He sprinted forward but Alnwick recovered well from his mistake very well to stop his side conceding a second.

 Even though we were playing well, I could see the inevitable bottle coming. Which is why I was astonished to see Chris McCann double our lead on the 73rd minute after Agyei fed him through by smashing it into the roof of the net. The scenes in the stands were real, we were beginning to believe that we were taking 3 points home with us.

  Lameiras replaced Agyei and Tudgay came on for Sordell in the final 10 minutes of the match to see out the game. Both left to a sea of applause. I almost cried when the board went up to say 6 minutes of added time were to be played, even though we were 2 goals up, as a Coventry fan I was by no means assuming we had won the game. And if it weren't for Sterry's last ditch tackle to stop Vale scoring as soon as the board went up, I am certain we wouldn't have held on. The important bit though, we did.

 Our first 3 points of the season, I lost my voice, we beat a team in the play offs and abused Tim Fisher. A great away day, I just hopes this turns in to a run. I'm most likely going to be going to the Ricoh on Tuesday to see us play Northampton in the EFL Cup. Which will be my Eighteenth game this season. I'm only going for the report may I add, I believe fully in the B Team boycott.

My Man of the Match - Marvin Sordell - I was doubted for getting "that" shirt. People said they didn't like him, some poeple still don't but whatever way you look at it, Marvin has 3 goals in the past 5 games and is doing everything else right too. He made perfect passes as well as runs today. I just hope his form continues so I can carry on being smug. This is his second award in 2 games.