Saturday, 18 February 2017

My Fifty-First 16-17 Game - Coventry City vs Gillingham

 So I appear to have missed another 2 games which I haven't reported on even though I have attended them, some might say that that's bad journalism, I prefer to say that I did it because I value my sanity. Witnessing whatever Charles-Cook did at Oldham was enough for anyone, but to then see us concede a 94th minute equaliser at Wimbledon on Tuesday night almost brought me to tears.

Today however we were in with a chance of ending our winless streak against the side who apart from ourselves have the longest run without a win out of all of the 92 teams in the top four tiers of English football in the form of Gillingham. Jordan Willis' ban was completed on Tuesday so according to the club he was set to return.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Kelly-Evans
Clarke
Turnbull
Haynes

Foley
Rose
Reilly

G Thomas
Tudgay
K Thomas

Coventry City Substitutes:

Charles-Cook
Rawson
Bigirimana
Jones
Lameiras
Reid
Yakubu

Because it's been a while I haven't had the chance to discuss a few things, firstly, we signed ex Premier League striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni. Wow. Secondly, he may have been slated when we signed him all the way back in August because Tony Mowbray played him injured, but Kwame Thomas has showed serious class since returning to the first team fold after his 6 month lay out.

First Half

Weirdly, we were playing some decent football, passes were flowing well, even Marcus Tudgay of all people managed to set our wing backs free on a couple of occasions. Ryan Haynes went on one of his trademark left wing runs and put in a ball to the far post which Tudgay got on the end of to nod across goal where Kwame Thomas was waiting to bundle it over the line for his 2nd goal in a week.

Only 4 minutes later and the ball fell to Andy Rose 20 yards out, his shot took a deflection and fell straight into the path of George Thomas who stuck it straight in the bottom corner to not only put the Sky Blues two ahead but also score his first ever professional league goal since coming through the academy.

It was nearly 3 a couple of minutes later when a peach of a cross from Dion Kelly-Evans gave a free header for Tudgay who hit the side netting. George Thomas was at it again near half time muscling off the defender to get the shot away from just inside the box but Nelson stayed strong to make sure the Gills were still within a fighting shout at the break.

Half Time Score - Coventry City 2-0 Gillingham

Second Half

One of the more bizarre substitutes occured at the interval as a seemingly fully fit Lee Burge made way for his goalkeeping rival Reice Charles-Cook. Even though he appeared to be OK, it must have been some sort injury which meant we had to waste our first substitution on someone who had been standing around for the entirety of the first half.

Max Ehmer brought the Kent based side back into the game 10 minutes into the second period after City failed to deal with a corner. In an attempt to seal the game, the Sky Blues made their final two substitutions as both goalscorers or both Thomas' if you will were replaced by Jodi Jones and Yakubu who made an instant impact by playing a ball in from the right to Callum Reilly, the Burton loanee cleared the bar somehow from a very short distance.

Then the Yak himself had a chance to bury the game but on the turn and on his weaker foot he struck a pea roller into the arms of Nelson. It was a nervy final few minutes as Gillingham were throwing the kitchen sink at us, they had a disallowed goal which their fans didn't realise didn't count for about a minute until you heard the cheers silenced when Cookie lined up for a free kick.

As much as I thought we would bottle it yet again, the game finished 2-1, a much MUCH needed victory, Russell Slade's first league win since joining just before Christmas. The first in 15 and a whole 109 days. I'm not going to jump the gun and say we're going to stay up, but we do have a few crucial relegation battles coming up which will define our season. All we need to do is just play our game and see where it takes us and hope that the likes of Chesterfield, Swindon, Port Vale, Bury and Gillingham continue to struggle. Only then will I begin to believe.

Up next we have one of the crucial relegation matches I was talking about with our home match against Swindon Town, we have a week to prepare so hopefully we can come out as victors. Only time will tell.

My Man of the Match - Kwame Thomas - Who'd have thought that player who ran in treacle at Swindon away would be out main goalscoring threat 6 months later. This is obviously his first award of the season given it's only his second start of the season. Maybe the Thomas partnership can keep us up... Maybe...

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

My Forty-Eighth 16/17 Game - Coventry City vs Wycombe Wanderers

I'm seriously going to struggle putting the events of tonight into words, I'm shocked to my core. We came into the game against League Two Wycombe as underdogs which sounds ridiculous, but they are in extremely good form in the league which compared to us leaves us praying for something to happen.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Charles-Cook

Kelly-Evans
Harries
Turnbull
Haynes

Thomas
Reilly
Rose
Reid

Beavon
Tudgay

Coventry City Substitutes:

Burge
Finch
Bigirimana
Gadzhev
Stevenson
Lameiras
Jones

Seeing this made me ache inside, George Thomas ahead of Jones even though he's played exceptionally throughout the tournament. Tudgay in there yet again, but I'm not here to complain. If you want to see complaining then look at any of the other reports I've done this season.

First Half

 We got off to the perfect start, Thomas won it back in a dangerous area and cut back to Beavon, he swivelled and with the help of an enormous deflection took it into the back of the net. There were mental scenes in the crowd, a purple flare went off and people were falling over everywhere. People really were in shock that we were within touching distance of Wembley.

On the 20 minute mark we really started to believe it was possible, Kyel Reid went on a brilliant run down the left wing and played a peach of a ball into George Thomas who calmly chested it down and on the half volley smashed it in to the roof of the net. This time the scenes were just people with their hands on their hands going "Oh my god, we're actually going to do it"

Close to the half time break Ryan Haynes could only flick a cross put in towards the back post but Myles Weston skied it from 6 yards out. A 2-0 lead at the break would be very comfortable for most sides but when you're a fan of Coventry City you know never to accept you'll be going to Wembley until you're on the pitch celebrating, in fact I still can't quite believe it now.

Second Half

Both teams made a substitution at the break, we brought on Jodi Jones in place of Beavon whilst the visitors replied by bringing on the beast himself. One of the 2 players I feared most from Wycombe came on in the form of Adebayo Akinfenwa, the other, Scott Kashket, entered the field 8 minutes into the second period.

Akinfenwa doesn't get his nickname for no reason, and we saw that throughout the second half, he bullied Harries and Turnbull off the ball at every single opportunity and that proved when he got one back by toe poking into the roof of the net on the 55th minute. This sparked 2 things, the defensive minded substitution of Jack Finch replacing Kyel Reid and also the longest 35 minutes of my entire life.

The minutes ticked down like hours, and seconds like minutes, it was unbearable. We had to cope with wave after wave of attack, every time narrowly escaping via a Charles-Cook punch away. Eventually after what seemed like years the board for additional time went up, it had been a fairly stopless second half so we weren't expecting much. 6 whole minutes was what the fourth official went up with.

I almost collapsed, we were all waiting down the front ready to celebrate getting the home of English football, but to think we had to carry on waiting to see our fate was painful. The minutes ticked by slower than ever. But eventually, it happened. The referee's sharp blow on the whistle finally came and was instantly met with the biggest roar for 30 years.

All the stress, all the pain, all of the suffering was released by a massive pitch invasion. I hurt my leg scrambling over the barrier and avoiding stewards, I even managed to make an appearance on Sky during George Thomas' post match interview. Celebrating with the players, holding up Jodi Jones and singing his name made us forget all of our problems for a split second.

Now if, and it's a big if, we have some form of bottle, we could try and use this as a springboard to propel us up the table. We need to take it one game at a time, starting with Oldham away on Saturday, a massive game if we have any hope of survival. In fairness, they all are as long as we keep fighting until the game is won.

My Man of the Match - George Thomas - He may not be able to score in the league but given the moment he gave us all with the second goal, he is exempt from criticism for the rest of his life. I do believe I gave him an award all the way back in pre season at Newport.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

My Forty-Seventh 16/17 Game - Coventry City vs Millwall - Rant About the Situation

 This isn't going to be a match report, so if that's what you're looking for then I would leave now. It is just a massive rant on the current situation regarding Coventry City Football Club but loosely based on what I saw in today's gutless 2-0 defeat. The January transfer window forced the eyes open of the extremely small number of Coventry fans who didn't know already, we are in deep deep trouble.

 What Russell Slade did in January is nothing short of a disgrace, he got rid of our top and only proven goalscorer in favour of a 33 year old who scored 12 in 92 for his previous club alongside 2 children whom you could count their collective professional on one hand. This was evident in the team we chose.

Burge

Foley
Rawson
Clarke
Haynes

Thomas
Reilly
Rose
Reid

Tudgay
Beavon

That for starters is a massive red flag, 2 strikers who can barely run both well into their twilight footballing years, it's just a disgrace all around. None of them seem to care, throughout the match, Burge made a tremendous number of howlers that it should have been about 6-0 but he was the only one that came over and clapped the fans at the end!

Maybe the 17 other squad members decided a clap to the people who pay their wages is beneath them because it's the "fans fault" we conceded the first goal. The attitude of some fans to one another is one of the reasons we can't organise a proper protest, all we can muster up is about 50 tennis balls going on the pitch and a few people chanting.

The Sheffield United pitch invasion was spoken about beforehand but nothing concrete was ever arranged, hence why it was left so late. The pigs on the pitch at Charlton was the home sides doing, all we did was follow orders. If we want to be successful and unite as a fanbase then we need to look at their situation.

Northampton is another story, whether the home fans liked it or not, it got attention. Not as much as we would have hoped as we picked the wrong day with the likes of Lincoln and Sutton making giantkillings in the FA Cup. However some did it for the wrong reasons in a "Look at me" kind of way which isn't the way forward.

Back to today, there was already an increased number of police and stewards given the reputation of the opposition so they were extremely tight on security, meaning the £2 I spent at Decathlon on tennis balls went to waste as I don't want to risk getting chucked out. A few people did though, which leads me onto another point about today.

I get that the stewards don't want us to disrupt the game, that's obvious, but there's absolutely no need to eject a couple of fans you think might be the ringleaders in such an aggressive way. I even spotted a police officer push a boy who could only be as old as about 10 pushed in the face with force for simply standing on the stairs.

Everything about this club right now is extremely sour right now which is why I thought I needed to say this. I haven't written on as many games lately because frankly, I can't bring myself to do it, which is a poor reason but if I don't enjoy writing it then you won't enjoy reading it. I can't say it's going to get any better but I hope we do at least score one more goal this season.

There is one minuscule silver lining, and that's on Tuesday night, the semi finals of the Checkatrade Trophy against Wycombe. A Wembley trip certainly wouldn't make anything better but if there's any fanbase most deserving of the day out it's Coventry City. Knowing us though we'll concede three in the first 10 minutes and really kill the dream.

My Man of the Match - No one deserves credit anymore.