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...

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