Monday, 17 April 2017

My Sixty-Fourth 16/17 Game - Rochdale vs Coventry City

Our first away game after falling to the fourth tier had been confirmed took us to Rochdale, who still have very faint hopes of making the play offs. However the match gave us an opportunity to play with no shackles on us, maybe give a few promising youngsters from our academy a run out. This idea was potentially fulfilled as Jordan Ponticelli and Jak Hickman were confirmed to travel with the squad.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Willis
Rawson
Turnbull
Stokes

Reilly
Stevenson
Bigirimana

G Thomas
K Thomas
Reid

Coventry City Substitutes:

Charles-Cook
Foley
Kelly-Evans
Gadzhev
Lameiras
Folivi
Tudgay



Our hopes of seeing some youth get a chance were dashed when the team was announced and we decided against it. Injuries had meant that our squad was what it was, with the list of people out being in double figures. Jordan Willis was apparently walking wounded with an ongoing thigh problem meaning he had to be subbed off on more than one occasion recently.

First Half

For the first ten minutes or so we appeared to be the better side, our passing was good, pressing equally impressive. I could have easily seen us grabbing a goal if it weren't for Rochdale's solid defending, added onto that we have absolutely no attacking threat. Soon it was found out that we're all mouth and no trousers however so the game was taken over by the home side.

The highly rated Nathaniel Mendez-Laing went on a great run down the right, beating Stokes and his inch perfect cross was met by the head of Ian Henderson who nodded it straight past Burge. Henderson is in a list of players who always seem to score against us now, others include Billy Sharp, Leon Clarke and Nicky Ajose.

It was a very quiet fixture, we offered little to nothing in the form of shots thanks to the Dale nullifying everything whenever we got within 30 yards. The closest we came in the first 45 minutes was a couple of free kicks taken by Gael Bigirimana and Callum Reilly respectively. Both were wasted however, not even making it past the wall.

Half Time - Rochdale 1-0 Coventry City

Second Half

As has been said previously, the game was very much a dull affair, so the first action of the second half came ten minutes in. The same two players as the first goal combined once more, Mendez-Laing played through Henderson who trickled it past Burge with unnerving ease. The Sky Blues keeper was helpless on the ground as he watched the ball roll past him into the net.

We haven't scored 3 goals in the league all season so it's fair to say 3 points now didn't look likely. Robins didn't give up hope however, so made a double substitution, off went Reid and Kwame Thomas, on came Lameiras and Tudgay. Interestingly, a few of us bumped into Tudgay outside the ground and he said in certain terms that he won't be staying on next season.

Some people may be pleased as he's not excelled this season but my take on it is, it's not his fault he's 34 and his legs have gone so he doesn't really deserve the stick he gets. Especially since he seems to work as hard as he can every time he enters the field of play. In fairness to Marcus, when he came on today he did seem half decent.

Our final change came with fifteen minutes left on the clock, Willis exited yet again with Dion Kelly-Evans taking up his spot at full back. Tudgay took the armband. This was met with chants of "Tudgay is our leader, Tudgay is our leader...." from the City fans in the away end. Willis came closest for us all match, a volley from five yards out which was blasted high and wide, that sums up the whole day.

With just 2 minutes remaining Ben Stevenson went down with what appeared to be a very serious injury, after a few minutes delay he was stretchered off wearing a neck brace but he has since been confirmed to be OK. According to Mark Robins it looks like it might be concussion. It didn't look as bad as Andy Rose's at Shrewsbury last month, in fact at the time fractured skull was rumoured.

After this 5 minutes of injury time was played out with a 2-0 Rochdale victory being the final result. It didn't surprise me that we would be going back from Lancashire empty handed, and it certainly wasn't a game I'll look back on and remember as being one for the ages either. It does however take us within 2 games of the end of a terrible season for everyone involved.

Next up we have Walsall at home, our final match of the season at the Ricoh Arena. I would say it is my last home game for the foreseeable future but I see myself crumbling and buying a season ticket next year. Hopefully the rumoured takeover happens so I can happily purchase one with my morals still firmly intact.

My Man of the Match - Gael Bigirimana - Apart from almost slicing someone in two towards thee end of the first half Bigi passed very well. One thing I did notice, he was exceptionally good at getting out of high pressure situations with the ball calmly. It is essential we try our absolute hardest to keep him for League Two next season.

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