Wednesday, 12 July 2017

My Second 17/18 Game - Valenciennes vs Coventry City

It's crazy in itself to be able to follow The Sky Blues on tour, albeit a pre-season tour as opposed to a continental competition. For the first of 2 games in the Alicante region of Spain we faced French Ligue 2 side Valenciennes at the Pinatar Arena.

Before I get onto the match, I thought it was a really nice touch for every single one of the players to come over and meet the travelling fans, say hello, shake their hands and basically thank them for their support. Mark Robins had a chat with a group of us which he explained it's unlikely we'll have a game against other opposition and if we do it'll be Bournemouth's youth side. If not it'll be intersquad.

He also explained he's sill on the hunt for a 'number 9' as one more striker signing, which is good to see although it could be argued we have enough options already. It was nice to talk with the gaffer and look at his thinking from inside the club, it took your mind off the sweltering heat which nearly warranted collapsing.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Grimmer
Willis
McDonald
Leahy

Jones
Doyle
Stevenson
Vincenti

McNulty
Beavon

Coventry City Substitutes:

O'Brien
Dev. Kelly-Evans
Hyam
Camwell
Kelly
Shipley
Trialist (Moorhouse)
Finn
Biamou
Ponticelli

Once again we had two teams, and we swapped nearly every single player at half time, only Leahy and Doyle kept their spots. Leahy lasting the full 90 minutes whilst Liam Kelly replaced the 35 year old Irishman with 20 minutes remaining. But once again, whilst it would be nice to win, we shouldn't be expecting it or be worried if we didn't. It's about looking which members of the squad deserve a spot in the first team ahead of the start of the season.



First Half

We got off to a pretty shocking start, the French side were making us chase for the ball and forcing us to play their game rather than our own. They went ahead in the fourth minute, Cherif Quenum whipped a cross in to Steve Ambri inside the six yard box, he tapped into the roof of the net to give Valenciennes the lead.

For most of the first half we couldn't muster up a single effort on goal, however we weren't letting our opponents in either. Aside from one offside scare where Burge was left one on one with Foulon, it was a tactical battle of retaining possession and trying to work an opening. Which we did eventually manage to do.

Stuart Beavon showed some great skill on the left and got his reward when he was tackled to the ground in the box. A penalty was awarded, Marc McNulty stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way and score his first goal for the club.

Second Half

Scoring just before the whistle gave us a new found confidence ahead of the second half, the new eleven were no longer going to be chasing the game, but instead playing with freedom as if it had started again. Valenciennes also changed their entire eleven so we weren't at an advantage in terms of how fresh we were.

One thing which really impressed me was how good our passing was, it was all pinpoint and the strikers, Biamou and Ponticelli were bringing every one down perfectly. You could see there was a partnership there given how well they connect, which is astonishing considering Biamou has just signed.

The u18 star nearly put us ahead on a couple of occasions after the restart, hitting the post in one instance. However when a corner was headed back to him he made no mistake, the volley found the top corner with such precision. With Moorhouse's own volley going agonisingly wide, the game could have been at least 4-1 in favour of the Sky Blues but we only had the narrowest of leads.

Disappointingly, we were outdone by some poor luck, a cross was turned in by Domininc Hyam, who was just looking to clear. O'Brien nearly got to it but the change of direction was too much for him to be able to keep it out.

We picked ourselves up again and played some decent football, but the opponents had just one more chance for the rest of the game. Look Nestor found the top corner from the corner of the box with a superb curling effort. This was the last action of the game and we came out as 3-2 losers. Something we shouldn't be downhearted by, it was a valiant performance which deserved more but it wasn't to be.

Next up we've got the second game of the tour (If there is one) on Friday night. I'll still report on it even if it's intersquads playing because it gives more of a chance to analyse individuals rather than be biased and look at the result. If there is no match I'll just have to sit by the pool in 30 degree heat in Alicante, it's a very hard life...

My Man of the Match - Jordan Shipley - It was like his left foot was a wand, but the spell he could perform was putting every single cross and pass on point. We totalled about 5 corners in the second half, one of which leading to the goal, which were taken by Shipley, every single one caused danger in some way. I really hope he manages to assert himself in the first team, we could do with the qualities he offers.


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