Tuesday, 18 July 2017

My Third 17/18 Game - Barnsley vs Coventry City

Back from the tortures of sunny Spain where we only ended up playing the one match, the next friendly was a polar opposite, Yorkshire on a Tuesday night. More specifically, Mark Robins' former club Barnsley. It's not exactly as glamorous when you put the two together. However it's not about what you're looking for outside, it's the football that counts.

This was our biggest test of pre-season so far, that's assuming that the English second tier is better quality than the French second tier. It does also hold a slightly sentimental value as Barnsley was my first ever away game following the City, a 4-1 win with goals from Leon McKenzie, Michael Mifsud, Julian Gray and Kevin Kyle of all people. That was 10 years ago next month, which makes me feel quite uneasy. 

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Grimmer
Willis
McDonald
Leahy

Jones
Kelly
Doyle
Vincenti

McNulty
Beavon

Coventry City Substitutes:

O'Brien
Trialist (James Pearson)
Shipley
Hyam
Maycock
Di. Kelly-Evans
Dev. Kelly-Evans
Biamou
Trialist (Greg Moorhouse)
Stevenson

The squad has changed vast amounts since that sunny day in 2007, although funnily enough, Michael Doyle makes an appearance in both sides, ten years apart. Albeit there was a six year gap between his spells with The Sky Blues. We also managed to acquire the instigator of Leicester's title winning season, not Jamie Vardy or Riyad Mahrez. Jamie Pearson. I won't go into it as I don't want to get in trouble in the legal world but Google is there for a reason.

First Half

Someone literally counted the away following as 58 people, a mixture of loyal fans and Yorkshire Sky Blues but either way. It's only really a friendly, probably more than what Forest Green will bring to us at the end of the year. The home side on the other hand had a couple thousand fans in their stand.

Now we weren't horrendous, defensively you could see where the weak spots were. Without being harsh to the lad Darragh Leahy was poor. You just have to pray Stokes and Haynes will be back soon so we can have some more strength because everything Barnsley did was going down the young Irish lads side. We got away with it on a couple of occasions.

The hosts should have been ahead after 20 minutes but Payne got greedy by shooting instead of laying off to Mallan who was in a one on one situation with the keeper. However just a minute later Leahy failed to close down Stevie Mallan, who struck in at the near post. A cheap goal to concede but Barnsley were ahead nonetheless.

We nearly equalised immediately through an own goal but Townsend recovered well to push away. Jodi Jones brought the ball down well not long later and cut it, letting fly and forcing a good save from the keeper. His decision making looks to have gotten a lot better since last season. Something which you have to be pleased about.

We really weren't given a reward for our couple of chances as Leahy was caught out yet again, with McCarthy breaking free on the right wing. His shot was parried to the side by Burge, right into the path of Payne who tapped the loose ball into the bottom corner. We went in at the break 2 goals down, it could be argued as harsh. But there was also a strong case for it being very much justified.

Half Time - Barnsley 2 - 0 Coventry

Second Half

The only change we made ahead of the second 45 minute period was Ben Stevenson who replaced Liam Kelly. However we changed the whole team throughout the course of the half. Beavon managed to push his way through the Barnsley defence, somehow coming away with the ball, forcing it into the net. Townsend certainly should have done better.

Any hope we may have had of equalising was dashed just 10 minutes later when Bradshaw latched onto some shocking defending by Grimmer to put in an easy finish. O'Brien made his feelings to the right back well known by screaming at him for near enough stopping and letting the ball pass him. It was the easiest finish in the world and Bradshaw made no mistake.

Other than a few half chances and shots we had, not much else happened. Barnsley were happy to see out the win, even though it was a friendly and nothing we created was going for us. Devon Kelly-Evans did look very bright, having the 'Ryan Haynes' ability to weave in and out of defenders. He also nearly scored a good volley late on but it snuck just past the post.

Full Time - Barnsley 3-1 Coventry

I feel like a broken record saying this but whilst we didn't play to well, it's only pre-season so there's no need to panic. The only result that matters is Notts County, then Blackburn, then Grimsby and so on. Take this season one game at a time and don't look at results until they're competitive and actually matter.

Next up is MK Dons at Nuneaton on Friday night, another good test against a side in a higher division. To be honest it's going to be nice to play the likes of Mickleover and Leamington. Just to get some confidence in the players heads, even if they would be against lesser opposition. But as I've said, it doesn't really matter.

My Man of the Match - Jodi Jones - He looks like a different player to the one that came out last season. His awareness on the ball tonight was brilliant. I hope with every fibre that he becomes the world beater that we expected when he signed last May which we've yet to see.

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