Sunday, 26 March 2017

My Fifty-Ninth 16/17 Game - Coventry City vs Bristol Rovers

I'm not sure what's worse, the fact that I've missed 7 whole matches and that it's been 1 month and 8 days since my last post or that I'm writing this intro section at 2:39am completely after forgetting that the clocks went forward. The reason why I haven't done any games is down to various reasons which I won't go into. But here's a brief summary.

Game 52 - Wolves 1-2 Birmingham - Not a bad match for a total of £15 all things included, a lot less stressful than going to see my actual club. Some very decent Friday night viewing. MMOTM - CCFC exclusive unfortunately.

Game 53 - Coventry 1-3 Swindon - We remembered that we weren't actually that good at football and that the Gillingham victory was a one off by being smashed at home by Swindon. On a side note George Thomas scored a worldie. MMOTM - George Thomas

Game 54 - Shrewsbury 0-0 Coventry - We played quite well, it was funny seeing Shrewsbury fans all run down to the front, average age of about 13, all run down to the front ready to give it large but then the penalty was spooned down the middle at Burge's legs. Russell Slade's fued with Bigirimana finally came to blows when he was practically pinned down and forced to play him, funnily enough he played incredibly after Andy Rose looked like he'd been shot. Slade was sacked the day after though, replaced immediately by Robins. MMOTM - Gael Bigirimana

Game 55 - Coventry 0-2 Bradford - For the first half we played decent, first 20 of the second we switched off by which point the game was over completely. They're quite good though so I wasn't too bothered to see us lose. MMOTM - Ben Stevenson

Game 56 - Coventry 0-2 Southend - Possibly the pick of the bunch for poor performances this season, 2 dodgy goals early on and we displayed no signs of playing average football at all. It was painful viewing . MMOTM - Dion Kelly-Evans

Game 57 - MK Dons 1-0 Coventry - We didn't play badly, just not very good at all. MK took advantage of our average performance and scored a belter from about 25 yards, not really much you can do. MMOTM - Jodi Jones

Game 58 - Coventry 2-1 Port Vale - Completely out of nowhere we decided to play some decent football. Kyel Reid scoring a goal of the season contender along with Kwame Thomas' backheel finish. We slipped a little conceding a fairly simple header but all in all it was a decent performance. Not that any of that matters. MMOTM - Kyel Reid

That takes us back to now, where we hosted potential play off dark horses Bristol Rovers in a game which is a dead rubber for us, but crucial for them, which we saw with the 4,000 visiting fans in the away end. In the least cruel way possible, I thought it would have been great to see us ruin their day and come out as victors.

Coventry City Starting XI:
(4-4-2) Burge – Willis (C), Clarke, Rawson, Haynes – G Thomas, Reilly, Bigirimana, Reid – Beavon, Jones
Coventry City Substitutes:
Charles-Cook, Turnbull, Kelly-Evans, Stokes, Stevenson, Lameiras, Vernam
Bristol Rovers Starting XI:
(4-3-3) Lumley – J. Clarke, Lockyer, Burn, Brown – O. Clarke, Lines, Sinclair – Bodin, James, Gaffney
Bristol Rovers Substitutes:
Mildenhall, Leadbitter, Mansell, Harris, Easter, Montano, Moore
First Half
It was a very back and forth 90 minutes with both sides attacking for the duration but it was Rovers who had the first serious attempt on goal, with Billy Bodin’s shot being blocked wide. We hit back immediately however with Jodi Jones’ free kick forcing an outstretched save from Lumley. Then again ten minutes later the Sky Blues switched it from one full back to another, Ryan Haynes played it across to the back post where Jordan Willis was waiting. His header comfortably saved.
On the half hour mark the gers had a free kick of their own when Lee Brown shot straight into the wall from 20 yards, with the follow up equally blocked and cleared away. Tom Lockyer got the first booking of the match after a tactical foul stopped Jones from crossing into the box with the potential for Stuart Beavon to finish. The striker however was left waiting, the resulting free kick gave him a chance to take the lead but once again City couldn’t get past Lumley.
Half Time – Coventry City 0-0 Bristol Rovers
Rovers weren’t playing to their usual standards so something had to be changed, which was done when Leadbitter and Moore replaced James Clarke and Gaffney respectively at the break. This seemed to do the trick as they had us on the ropes for the first section of the second half. Luke James and substitute Byron Moore both had chances to put the away side ahead.
City made our first change when Dion Kelly-Evans replaced Willis after he looked to have picked up a knock on the hour mark. Meanwhile the final Gers substitution was made with 25 minutes remaining when Harris replaced Jonny Burn. Moore had another chance when the Coventry defence was caught napping, he broke through the middle but shot wide of the mark.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, we started taking control of the game and nearly took the lead via Jones’ volley which was skied over the bar from Reid’s cross. The 19 year old winger seemed to injure his knee in the process and was taken off for Ruben Lameiras to come on. The Sky Blue pressing carried on and with 10 minutes remaining the deadlock was broken when George Thomas struck a beautiful half volley after Beavon’s through ball when it crept in at the far post. 
The final Coventry change of the match saw them tighten up in defence with Stokes coming on for winger  Reid, which meant they kept a clean sheet, but invited in pressure for the remainder. Lee Burge was put to the test and made an acrobatic save deep into injury time tipping over the bar. 
Full Time – Coventry City 1-0 Bristol Rovers
As I've said, it doesn't really matter too much, but it was nice to see us come away with three points and all but kill Rovers' play off hopes. I can't help but think we would have been battered had that been under Slade but instead of Robins. We showed real signs of being a functioning football team, it's just a shame it's too little too late.

Next match, and my sixtieth, is just your average trip to north London with 45,000 other Coventry fans in the Checkatraade Trophy final. Nothing too big. I will be building up the clubs biggest moment in years by doing a weeks worth of preparation called 'March to the Arch' looking back on what brought us here.

My Man of the Match - George Thomas - Georgey has gone under the radar this season but has been one of our best players. He's scored goals in the cups as well this season, getting us to the final, so deserves to be in the starting eleven at Wembley. I'm giddy even thinking about it.

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