Sunday, 29 October 2017

My Twenty-Sixth 17/18 Game - Luton Town vs Coventry City

This season has been very hit and miss, we've shown incredible quality, making promotion pushing teams look like school team, but equally we've seen the dire poor performances where we don't score. The situation had gotten so bad that we were just 90 minutes away from not scoring in the month of October. Plus we were facing top of the league and free scoring Luton, so it didn't look likely that we would break our duct.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Grimmer
Willis
McDonald
Haynes

Vincenti
Doyle
Kelly
Jones

Ponticelli
McNulty

Coventry City Substitutes:

O'Brien
Davies
Stokes
Maycock
Shipley
Biamou
Nazon

I expected that now would be the game that we started Ponticelli, but I thought it would be McNulty whom took the hit. It was a bold call to drop The Duck, but one that I respect Mark Robins for doing, he's not been performing too well as of late. Something needed to be changed and that was done, with McNulty getting a serious opportunity as an out and out striker rather than a number 10 or a winger.

First Half

Whilst The Hatters were showing why they are top of the league with the great play, we were matching them, having good opportunities just as much as they were. It was us who drew first blood in terms of chances, Kelly took advantage of a poor clearance by letting fly first time from 45 yards. The effort hit the corner of the post and bar, bouncing agonisingly out. Ponticelli displayed great fight to follow the effort up and stop it from going out, even if nothing came from the chance.

25 minutes in and we took a very much unexpected lead, Jodi found space on the left to put a ball into the area, from roughly 12 yards Marc McNulty met it and nodded past Stech. A great header, not only that, McNulty has scored a goal which is neither a penalty nor massively controversial. Given he was expected to be our forward talisman when he was signed, this could be the confidence boost he needs to push on and get as close to 20 as possible. Only 18 more in the league to go...

I feel like going 1-0 up to top of the league changed us slightly, within just 10 minutes of the goal McNulty had shot from inside his own half and Ponticelli tried a scorpion kick. The Giroud-esque effort unsurprisingly didn't hit the back of the net but those who don't try don't succeed. Instead we held out until the half time mark, taking in a very impressive one goal lead.

Half Time - Luton Town 0-1 Coventry City

Second Half

Another game, another day where we are slapped in the face by how good Jodi Jones actually is for us, it's crazy. God help us when January comes. Early on in the second half he ran from inside his own half to the edge of the box, he had a shot on goal but it was straight at the keeper. At the other end Lee Burge pulled off a magnificent save with his legs to keep the score 1-0.

In fact for most of the second half Luton were on top but our defence were doing well to keep it away. On the couple of occasions where they got past the back four, the man between the sticks pulled off some wonderful saves to deny them. The double save with 10 minutes to go springs to mind, had either of them gone in then I'd bet a lot of money we'd completely collapse and lose.

We responded to the constant pressure by making an attacking double substitution, Duckens Nazon and Maxime Biamou replaced Jordan Ponticelli and Peter Vincenti. The fresh legs seemed to help is with going forward rather than sitting back inviting in the threat. With one minute of normal time remaining we did go slightly more defensive however by taking off Jodi Jones, Jordan Shipley replaced him. Then a harrowing 8 minutes of additional time were announced.

We caught the hosts on the break as they were throwing everything at us, Biamou played an inch perfect long through ball to McNulty, leaving him through on goal. Glen Rea then quite literally "Took one for the team" by taking him out on the edge of the box. He was immediately dismissed having denied a clear goalscoring opportunity with no intention of getting the ball. It was annoying and Sparky looked certain to score.

There was no need to worry however, Jordan Shipley stepped up to take the free kick, didn't mess about beforehand and just let fly instantly. It bolted straight into the opposite top corner. A wonderful strike which sealed the game and took the edge off. However we weren't finished there, Nazon was played through in the sixth minute of injury. With a bit of help from a deflection, he made it 3, perhaps flattering us slightly, but don't let that take anything away from the performance.



Full Time - Luton Town 0-3 Coventry City

It's such a Coventry City win, don't score all month against Forest Green among others, and then batter the league leaders in their own back yard, but who cares? Now, what we have to do here, is BUILD ON IT, and KEEP THE MOMENTUM GOING. I don't care that the next 2 games are in the FA Cup and Checkatrade Trophy, we need to win them to keep the positivity and good feel about the team going.

My Man of the Match - Lee Burge - If it hadn't been for Burge's brilliant saves at 1-0 under pressure then I'm fairly certain we'd have lost. He's responded to the Forest Green mistake amazingly by keeping 2 clean sheets, still the most in England. He's as good as we're ever going to get and is still massively underappreciated.








Friday, 27 October 2017

That Preview Thing: Luton Town

It's fair to say we've been on a bit of a bad run as of late, having not actually scored a league goal in the month of October. What we need is a big win to get us back on track, so what you don't want to face is top of the league, away. That's the unfortunate position we find ourselves in but you've got to play them all at some point so there's no point crying about it. It's the most goals scored in the EFL versus the least goals conceded in the EFL. It reminds me of a sketch from 'That Mitchell and Webb Look' where "The irresistible force of Portsmouth, meet the immovable object of Southampton, in a clash that will go down as in history as one of the many football matches that are happening this weekend."



Last Time Out

Coventry City 0-0 Colchester United
21st October 2017
Sky Bet League Two

Jodi Jones got injured fairly early on which killed off all of our creativity and set the scene for a dull 0-0 draw with barely anything going on, thankfully however, he's back for Luton. We just don't seem able to put the ball in the back of the net, and whilst "expected goals" are good, they are nowhere near as good as actual goals. Positives, it was better than Forest Green, we got our ninth clean sheet of the season and it was another stellar defensive performance. To be honest, I'm getting sick of saying that, when are we going to put the ball in the netty thing?

Last Meeting

Coventry City 1-0 Luton Town
McKenzie (76')
30th January 2007
Coca-Cola Championship

The last competitive fixture between the two sides was 10 years ago, back in the Championship. The likes of David McNamee, Kevin Kyle and Kevin Thornton made appearances that game, no wonder we struggled to stay up. It was Leon McKenzie who bagged the winner with 15 minutes to play. However you could count the pre-season friendly 1-1 draw at Kenilworth Road a couple of seasons ago where James Maddison *sigh* scored our only goal.

Potential Starting XI:

Burge

Grimmer
Willis
McDonald
Stokes

Jones
Doyle
Kelly
Haynes

Nazon
Ponticelli

Ok so I've joined the dark side, maybe it is time to give Ponticelli a start. He probably isn't ready still and might not do as well as some people are thinking but it's worth a try isn't it? We're not looking like scoring from anywhere else at the present moment. If he does well then great, if not, then don't eat him alive. He's just turned 19. If he isn't the one to lead us up front then I'd put Marc McNulty in his place, he's not been given a real chance in his natural position yet, he's not a winger, or a number 10, he's a striker. Maybe playing him there alongside The Duck will be the key to the door.

Also, I've thrown Ryan Haynes in at left midfield/wing and feel like Mark Robins should do the same, whether Haynes himself likes it or not. Last Saturday when Jodi went off injured and Shipley came on there was a straight swap between the two, a poor choice. Shipley could have gone at full back with Haynes going at a more advanced position where every man and his dog knows he belongs. The only thing I can think of is that he doesn't want that responsibility.

The Opposition

Where to begin, on the first day they came out and ripped Yeovil Town apart 8-2, and not long ago did they beat play off chasing Stevenage 7-1. They've got a goal difference of +22, the highest in the league by a whole twelve goals. Basically, they're quite good, that can't be stressed enough. They were my pick to win the league at the start of the season as well as the bookies'. The Hatters had a fairly slow start but have really come into their element ever since, the fearsome attack includes Luke Berry and James Collins, a City fan, "the one who got away."

Betting Preview

Luton - Evens
Draw - 23/10
Coventry - 14/5

Obviously the hosts are favourites, and logically they are a solid team to throw in your accumulator at evens but you never know do you? It's a suggestion I say almost every week but BTTS - NO is also a good shout. James Collins is 33/1 to score a hat trick whilst Luke Berry is 150/1. According to Ladbrokes, Peter Vincenti, Stuart Beavon and Maxime Biamou (150/1) are all more likely to score a hat-trick that Jodi Jones (200/1) who has already managed this feat this season. Equally Haynes is 400/1. I should really stop looking at this market.

Prediction

Will we finally hit our mojo and get back to scoring and winning ways? It's unlikely, I'd like to think we'll come out and bag a couple, galloping back to the Midlands with 3 points but I very much doubt it. Equally I'd take a 0-0 draw with a point and run as much as I want to celebrate us scoring for the first time in a month. My heart says that we'll battle valiantly and snatch a win but my head very much otherwise. The last time I predicted a loss we beat top of the league 2-0 so who knows...

Luton Town 3-0 Coventry City


Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Complete Ranking of the Last 100 Coventry City Signings - 20-1

So here we are, this is it, the Arc de Triumphe, the finale, the best of the best. The top twenty signings of our League One era, we've gone through the tedious bits, your Lateef Elford-Alliyu's, Al Bangura's and Yakubu's, through the "alright, but forgotten" players, like Grant Ward or Michael Petrasso. Finally we have reached a few players who could argue having a good spell with us, for example Andy Rose and William Edjenguele.



To see the full list up until now then follow the links below:

100-81: http://www.shootingtowin.co.uk/2017/08/complete-ranking-of-last-100-coventry.html

80-61: http://www.shootingtowin.co.uk/2017/08/complete-ranking-of-last-100-coventry_7.html

60-41: http://www.shootingtowin.co.uk/2017/08/complete-ranking-of-last-100-coventry_21.html

40-21: http://www.shootingtowin.co.uk/2017/10/complete-ranking-of-last-100-coventry.html

20. Matthew Pennington

Appearances: 25
Goals: 0

A loan signing from Everton who helped sure up our defence and keep us in League One during the 14/15 season, joining in the November and staying for the whole season after eventual extensions. He went on to win Player of the Month in January and was voted by Tony Mowbray and coaching staff as the Young Player of the Season.

At just 20 years old he made a great account for himself in League One, he made his debut for Everton in the first team due to a defensive crisis. His first goal couldn't have been bigger for someone who has spent his career at Everton since age 9, at an equaliser in the Merseyside Derby back in April 2017. Nowadays he plies his trade at Leeds United on loan but may end up being recalled given how shambolic the Toffees have been lately.

19. Joe Cole

Appearances: 22
Goals: 2

Some may describe Joe Cole's spell at Coventry City as underwhelming, but what were they expecting? He was 34 and hadn't played properly in over a year, obviously he's not going to leather one from 40 yards like he did against Sweden back in the 2006 World Cup. The fact we even managed to sign Joe Cole gets him into the top half of the list. 56 international caps, played in the Champions League. I still don't quite get how Mowbray pulled this one out of the bag.

He wasn't underwhelming either, at times maybe he did go unnoticed but that was to be expected, but after a few months he showed glimpses of the quality we have all seen before. The hat trick of assists against Bury sticks out in the memory and you can't forget about the free kick on his home debut against Barnsley. Plus, he was always going to make the top 20 for two reasons, one, the lack of competition, and two, I still own a "J Cole 11" England shirt from 2006-08 and got a the 15/16 Sky Blues home shirt with "Cole 14" on there. You see what I mean.

18. Reice Charles-Cook

Appearances: 61
Goals: 0

It could have been so different for RCC, he broke onto the scene early in the 15/16 season when Lee Burge had the flu and from his debut set the record for the longest time without conceding a goal. Pipping Steve Ogrizovic by a few minutes. He was rumoured to have the likes of Stoke and Aston Villa coming in for him. I can also say I've seen the single best goalkeeping performance from Cookie Monster after Port Vale away in the same season, as well as the best single save, you know the one I'm on about.

So where exactly did it all go wrong? Well, after our brilliant squad was almost completely demolished and the defence was in tatters, Charles-Cook appeared to regress with Lee Burge taking the reigns. In summer Burge signed a new contract and Liam O'Brien was brought in which made Cookie surplus to requirements. He was offloaded to Swindon where he is second in command to Lawrence Vigoroux. It's quite sad that it never worked out here, I'll never forget his heroics at Swansea in the Checkatrade Trophy Quarter Final back in January. Had that not happened then we wouldn't have had that day under the arch.

17. Aaron Martin

Appearances: 72
Goals: 2

Originally when he was signed on loan from Southampton people weren't too keen on Aaron Martin, and then again after his permanent move from Yeovil. But when Reda Johnson got injured in October 2015 he was forced to become a regular starter. He stepped up to the plate and was solid as a rock for the remainder of the campaign. He did so well that my yearly award for the most progress made by a player is called "The Aaron Martin Award for Most Improved."

All of this makes it all the more odd that Tony Mowbray decided to release him at the end of that season along with Reda. I couldn't, and still can't, understand why he did it. He was great to have in a League One side, if not a starter then a squad player. We failed to replace him and shipped goals almost every game. I can't help but think a head like his would have helped endless amounts in our bid to stay up.

16. Jack Stephens

Appearances: 16
Goals: 0

Another centre back, another partner to Aaron Martin in the 15/16 season. Brought in on Deadline Day as a sellotape quick fix to the issues we had, and seemed to do the job. The better of the pairing of himself and Baily Cargill, who got injured just a few games into his Coventry City career. His days spent in the Southampton youth squads with Martin really helped us out as we neared the end of that season.

Since the spell he's broken into the Southampton first team squad, and even managed to start in their League Cup Final against Manchester United. A fun fact for you all, he made his debut for Southampton against us in the FA Cup in January 2012. So far this season he has made just five appearances but should be able to assert himself as a regular in the future.

15. Marvin Sordell

Appearances: 26
Goals: 7

We swapped him for Stuart Beavon and Callum Reilly on loan, let's just get that out of the way firstly. A proper Russell Slade masterclass, getting rid of our top goalscorer for someone who had scored 12 in 92. We needed him to do more than that in about 25 appearances, it was never looking likely from the day he signed. I really liked him, it was just managerial incompetence which stopped him for excelling, for example playing him as a left winger with Daniel Agyei up top. Mark Venus really was a delight wasn't he?

Then again, I'm probably being biased after the "Sordellinho" shirt debacle, it's impossible to not see him in a good light after that. When he left he offered to sign it, he will remain a Coventry City legend for the foreseeable future. Unless a serious legal situation arises then  I can't see any reason why he won't be on a plinth for the rest of his career. I'd love to see him back one day, and perhaps see if Burton are up for doing a return trade.

14. Dominic Samuel

Appearances: 13
Goals: 6

We made so many signings in the 14/15 season that statistically one or two of them had to pay off, Dominic Samuel was that guy. Joining on loan from Reading, while he only made thirteen appearances during his spell, he got close to a 1 in 2 ratio. These were goals which got us over the line while trying to stay up.

He would have done well had we got him back for the 15/16 season as another option to Armstrong but instead he went to Gillingham. Tony Mowbray rated him so much that he splashed considerable amounts of money on bringing him in permanently at his new job with Blackburn Rovers. Somehow still only 23, he looks to be doing ok to begin with.

13. Ryan Kent

Appearances: 17
Goals: 1

Ryan Kent was a wizard on the wing, Jurgen Klopp unnecessarily recalling him to throw him back in the u23s is one of the reasons why we collapsed. Well, that, consistent defensive injuries, not having a clear goalscorer other than Armstrong and signing players like Darius Henderson and Peter Ramage in January may have also had something to do with it.

He had the skills, the pace, and the end product. Exactly the sort of winger you want, it's just a shame we didn't get to see more of him. Above all else, the rabona elastico flip flap he performed against Barnsley got over a million loops on Vine (RIP). It was the sort of skill move you dreamt of performing whilst button bashing on FIFA Street.

12: Jodi Jones

Appearances: 68
Goals: 6

When I drew up the list back in July I had Jodi Jones just scraping into the top 20 of the signings, since the season has started and gone on he's made his way further and further up the list. Even now I'm feeling like 12th is quite harsh. He's excelled endless amounts since the start of the new season, being our only serious source of creativity so far.

The only thing that's holding him back isn't really his fault, Tony Mowbray blew nearly all of the budget on acquiring him on a permanent deal from Dagenham and Redbridge last summer. After a relatively slow first season he's really come into his element, has gained a right foot and the ability to breeze past players with ease. The step down has really helped him out.

11. Gael Bigirimana

Appearances: 55
Goals: 2

We have some sort of affinity to Gael Bigirimana, he came through our academy and left for Newcastle United in 2012 for £1 million. He rejoined on loan in November 2015 and then when his six year contract, handed out by Alan Pardew, didn't work on the toon, he came back permanently. His third spell was maybe his best. He got over Russell Slade being Russell Slade and came out better for it.

He scored his first goal for us, and of course, his second. At Wembley, in the Checkatrade Trophy Final. I'm so happy he got the first, the following picture is one of my favourite I've ever seen taken. It's a pity that he decided to move north of the border but you can't blame him, hopefully he and Andy Rose kill it up there.

10. Romain Vincelot

Appearances: 46
Goals: 4

Another moment where you look at Mowbray and think, what the hell were you doing? Why did he think to sell him, not only should he have been kept but also made captain. His partnership with John Fleck was amazing in that season. Bradford took advantage of our idiocy by making him captain and he has been a mainstay in their side that very nearly went up last season.

The bearded Frenchman gave us some great moments, like the forgotten close to overhead kick against Peterborough. I like to think of him as the one that got away, but hey, at least we used the money wisely to bring in Jordan Turnbull, that worked out incredibly well for everyone involved, I'm so glad we did it...

9. Jacob Murphy

Appearances: 42
Goals: 10

I'm guilty of hating Jacob Murphy when he was here and not realising his quality until it slapped me in the face with a hat trick against Gillingham to take us top of the league and a Sky Bet League One player of the month award. He was a solid winger/attacking midfielder and was the only other source of goals apart from Armstrong.

Newcastle bought him in the summer for a mental £12 million, twelve million pounds for someone who in Ocotber 2015 I tweeted describing him as being unable to play football. I can't apologise enough to him as ever since he has confirmed that he can, I got what I deserved however as the following season we were treated to the likes of Andre Wright and Lewis Page.

8. Jim O'Brien

Appearances: 77
Goals: 8

If there was a player who always gave 110% no matter what it was Jim O'Brien, he had an eye for the spectacular which was displayed in his screamer against Walsall. Late in the 15/16 season though he wasn't getting much game time due to us being too big for our boots with the likes of Joe Cole filling his position. Therefore he was loaned out and eventually released.

It was a shame that he had to be let go as I would have killed to have him in the side in the relegation campaign but to be fair to him, he wanted to move closer to home anyway. He is now back in his native homeland in Scotland with Ross County, I believe there was an issue where he had a fight with a teammate. Google may be your friend for that one if you want to learn more.

7. Chris Stokes

Appearances: 77
Goals: 3

Stokesy would have already cleared 100 appearances with ease if it weren't for his year long injury. I gave him player of the year in 15/16, and he's been a main stay this season, starting in all but one game. He's even just a great guy, on the tour in Spain I had a long chat with him, we spoke about Wembley and how his knees are made of paper and glass.

We pulled him out of thin air as well, who would have thought that our cult hero player would have come from the bench of National League side Forest Green Rovers. Well, that's what they were then, now they're a side who beat us at our very own stadium. As long as he stays fit I can see him staying here for a few more years yet. A great left back, especially for League Two.

6. Adam Armstrong

Appearances: 40
Goals: 20

Before he signed for us on loan Adam Armstrong was just a myth I'd heard of from Football Manager games, so people were sceptical when someone with very little professional experience joined on loan. The doubters were instantly proved wrong as he scored a brace on his debut. Somehow we managed to keep him for the whole season, news which was announced after he netted a hat trick against Crewe.

At just 18, he began to burn out for the second half of the season, right as we were beginning to collapse. This may have been one of the reasons. He got 16 goals in the first half of the season and just 4 goals in the second half. I was happy endless amounts that on the final day he managed to get his twentieth at Oldham. It sparked RCC running the length of the pitch to join in the celebrations.

5. Reda Johnson

Appearances: 34
Goals: 8

You know you've got a great personality as well as a defender when he takes fans out for a coffee to apologise for not being at a City game. That was one of the more eventful Thursday evenings I've had. As a player he was too good for League One, a rock solid centre back with just under a 1 in 4 goals ratio. They're like gold dust.

He was always going to have a flaw otherwise he wouldn't be playing for us in League One, and that was his injury proneness. He was insanely good, but only managed 34 games in 2 seasons for us, and you can't be doing with that. Had he not ruptured his ACL in his second season then we *could* have gone up, but it's all ifs and buts.

4. Franck Moussa

Appearances: 92
Goals: 19

People were crying out for Moussa to return in the summer and the rumour was that he was through the door and ready to re-sign but failed a medical. Proving that he hadn't kept in shape in his time at Walsall. The Mousse was another with an eye for the magnificent, his screamer in the last minute against Preston being one.

Then of course there was the chip against Leyton Orient which won goal of the season, or the volley away at Doncaster Rovers in his first season. It's a shame he was unable to come back as he was scoring for fun alongside his counterparts in the 12/13 season, in that yellow shirt which I am gutted to have lost in the past couple of years.

3. David McGoldrick

Appearances: 27
Goals: 18

Not being alive for the Premier League years I don't have many 'favourite' players, but if I had to pick a favourite striker then I'd be forced to say David McGoldrick. Never have I seen a player more clinical and brilliant at the City, everything he touched turned to goal. He was insane to watch when he joined on loan from Nottingham Forest.

I was gutted when we couldn't afford to extend it or get him in permanently, but I would have given a kidney for us to do so. Instead he joined Ipswich and has been there ever since. In just three months he managed 18 goals, had he had the full season he could genuinely have bagged 30. He had the experience to not burn out and the confidence to do so. Another who slipped through the net.

2. John Fleck

Appearances: 182
Goals: 8

We never really knew what we had with John Fleck until he was saying Sayonara and heading off to our newly found rivals Sheffield United. With us for four years, he was a Scottish warrior in the middle of the park. We always knew he could do it at Championship level, and now he is, I'm quite happy for him I try to say, but it's still quite sore.

As a side note, I'm not sure he ever scored a non-amazing goal for us, from what I remember they all seemed to be mental strikes from 30 yards out. Millwall at home is just one in a fairly medium sized line of worldies he netted. You never know, he could genuinely be playing Premier League football if Chris Wilder's men carry on doing what they're doing, alongside his teammate....

1. Leon Clarke

Appearances: 45
Goals: 28

Leon Clarke and Callum Wilson, the partnership of dreams, both played off each other and were amazing up top. We acquired him on a free from Charlton and he was instantly brilliant, but unfortunately the height of his domination came during the Sixfields season, so not many were there to witness it occur.

He makes it to the top of this list for one reason, we got him on a free and sold him on for £1 million, some great business. Saying that he's now a bagsman for the Blades in the Championship. Once again, he could be playing higher up next season. He was a real poacher, netting for fun. According to Mowbray we nearly got him back but he wanted too much money. A shame, as he was a class striker on his day.

There you have it, the complete ranking of the last 100 Coventry City signings. This took a ton of effort to work out and produce so any feedback is much appreciated. Big thanks to the CCFPA database by Jim Brown (@ClarrieBourton on Twitter) which really helped with knowing how many appearances were made and goals were scored by individual player. I've got an idea for a follow up series, hopefully that will get done at some stage.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

My Twenty-Fifth 17/18 Game - Coventry City vs Colchester United

The pain of Tuesday nights defeat to Forest Green will be something I'll never forget, it has brought much pain to everyone who has any form of association to Coventry City. Still though, there was no point in crying over spilt (soya) milk as we hosted Colchester United at the Ricoh with a solid chance of helping to redeem ourselves.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Grimmer
Willis
McDonald
Haynes

Doyle
Kelly

Jones
McNulty
Nazon

Beavon

Coventry City Substitutes:

O'Brien
Davies
Shipley
Stevenson
Vincenti
Biamou
Ponticelli

What immediately jumps out from the side is Ryan Haynes' reintroduction since getting injured in our very first pre-season game back in July. You can only assume Stokes himself has picked up a knock considering he wasn't involved in the squad at all. Biamou was the only other change with Stuart Beavon coming in to replace him for his first start in a while. Jordan Ponticelli is still yet to make a professional start for the club, much to the annoyance of many.

First Half

Other than the obvious reasons, I want us to score mainly so I have something to write about, dull 0-0 draws and narrow 1-0 losses really are poor material. At this stage I wouldn't even care if we shattered our best defence in the league record for one game just to draw 4-4. That would be a great report. Instead I'm going to have to get a few hundred words out of a red card and Jodi Jones getting injured, but I've managed it on worse so I'm sure I'll achieve it again. Saying that I've just given the game away completely...



We came out of the blocks on top, the presence of Ryan Haynes looked to have made the world of a difference, the long awaited combination of him on the left, albeit in defence, and Jodi Jones on the right has finally be come a reality. Well, that was for 25 minutes at least, when Jodi pulled up and had to be subbed off for Jordan Shipley.

Not to sound too overdramatic but if that injury is bad then that could genuinely be our promotion hopes over. He's been our sole source of creativity for a while now so he can't go getting a long term injury now that another has come in the form of Haynes. Luckily though, my "spidey senses" detect that he's spent his birthday at Kempton Races. I'm going off his Snapchat by the way, nothing creepy. He's also been ok to drive and walk about so it can't be horrendously bad. Touchwood. This injury stopped the pressing and the half fizzled out into a boring 0-0.

Half Time - Coventry City 0-0 Colchester United

Second Half

With no further changes to either side at the break we kicked off for the second half shooting with the Storm Brian winds. Whether that can be spun as an advantage is personal interpretation. Obviously however we didn't use it even if it was, the dull football continued in the second period. Michael Doyle did a Michael Doyle by slicing someone in two and getting a booking for it, putting him just one away from suspension.

We tried to push for a winner by taking off Beavon for Vincenti, which allowed Nazon to move into a more advanced forward position where he can really excel. Not long later we were handed an opportunity to win on a plate when Colchester midfielder Tom Lapslie was sent off for grabbing the ball when it was still in play. Having already been on a booking this was a fairly silly thing to do.

For most teams this would be an opening to win and a key to the door, but for us however, we can't score to save our lives. We got fairly close, McNulty especially should have put one away in the dying minutes. But a Ryan Haynes wide header in the last minute of injury time signalled the end to a poor game. Yet another match where we've failed to score, it's beyond worrying now.

Full Time - Coventry City 0-0 Colchester United

It really isn't good enough, we're too far into the season to still be working out how to play with each other. Beavon has yet to score, Biamou has yet to score, McNulty has one in the league but that likely shouldn't have counted. Something has to change. I can't see us winning at Luton next week, in fact, ironically, I'd take a 0-0 draw there and run away very fast.

My Man of the Match - Jordan Willis - Fresh from signing a new deal Willis has been the non-hoof ball merchant of our centre back pairing and actually looks for the best option rather than launching it. Not to slate Rod McDonald too much but the former captain offers something different, which seems to be working. Nine clean sheets is frankly brilliant, it's the other end we have to worry about.

Friday, 20 October 2017

That Preview Thing: Colchester United

I'm still not quite over what happened on Tuesday night, potentially one of the most embarrassing days to ever admit you're a fan of Coventry City Football Club. Still, with just enough time for Robins to shout at them a lot we're back for Colchester at home. Home being the key word, prior to Tuesday night i thought it was a fortress where we would never be beaten no matter what, how wrong I was.



Last Time Out

Coventry City 0-1 Forest Green Rovers
                              Marsh-Brown (29')
17th October 2017
Sky Bet League Two

Where to begin, no passion, no fight, an all round horrifically painful evening. Over the past few days I keep saying the words "Forest Green Rovers" to myself, it has yet to sink at all. Not only are they the smallest club in the history of ever, because really stature doesn't matter, but also they've been a horrendous football team this season. Usually I would back us to win this upcoming fixture but I really don't know what we're capable of now.

Last Meeting

Coventry City 0-1 Colchester United
                              Massey (18')
29th March 2016
Sky Bet League One

The defeat of the "bottle job" season where all of the paper was blown so far away from the cracks of the side that the whole world could see how poor we were. Colchester were 10 points from safety and were all but mathematically relegated whilst we still had a slim hope of making the play offs. Jacob Murphy gave the keeper an easy save with a penalty just to rub salt into the wounds. The dream was firmly killed on that night.

Potential Starting XI:

Burge

Grimmer
Willis
McDonald
Stokes

Jones
Doyle
Kelly
Vincenti

Biamou
Nazon

Not too much of a change in players but instead the formation, playing a number 10 doesn't work now we don't have the creative player to effectively play there. Tony Andreu getting injured hit us majorly hard, more so than we realised at the time. We've been trying to fill that void with strikers who can't create anything so we should stop messing about with it all and just move to a 4-4-2. I can't think what else. Hopefully Ryan Haynes can make it on to the bench and appear for 20 or so minutes to tear their defence apart.

The Opposition

The visitors have had a really sporadic start to the season, not finding some serious form as of yet sat in 14th. On Saturday they lost at home to Carlisle United but then beat Newport County away on Tuesday Night. We'll have to wait and see which side turns up but whichever it is, they'll probably beat us if we don't improve massive amounts. They've got the capability but it should be a close game.

Betting Preview

Coventry - 4/6
Draw - 27/10
Colchester - 21/5

Over 4/1 for Colchester to beat us, those odds are ridiculously good. They seem to be quite good away whereas our confidence is as low as it could possibly be. If I could physically do it then I would certainly back United. I can't see why we're odds on favourites but I think I've already stressed enough how bad I think we are.

Prediction

I think I've got just about enough belief to not suggest we'll get spanked on home turf as tempting as it may be. Critically though, to either get us back into the play offs or keep us within touching distance we need to take 3 points on Saturday. Especially with Luton away on the horizon next week where if we go in playing like we have done, they'll demolish us. To avoid even more embarrassment I'll sit on the fence.

Coventry City 1-1 Colchester United


Wednesday, 18 October 2017

My Twenty-Fourth 17/18 Game - Coventry City vs Forest Green Rovers

I'm not even sure how this post is going to go, I'll try and keep it to a report as much as I can for the sake of my own sanity as well as professionalism but the bottom line is, I am absolutely fuming with what I saw on that pitch. Of all the lows in my time supporting this club, and believe me, there's been a lot, this is probably as bad as it has got.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Grimmer
Willis
McDonald
Stokes

Doyle
Kelly

Jones
Biamou
McNulty

Nazon

Coventry City Substitutes:

O'Brien
Davies
Shipley
Stevenson
Vincenti
Beavon
Ponticelli

I can't fault Robins in the slightest for the team selection, because it's exactly what I would've played and more had I been given the opportunity. One day I will. However whatever the formation may have been on the team sheet certainly wasn't what was being played, or it was in the most fluid way possible. McNulty for one didn't have a specific position for the entire match.

First Half

Ok fair enough, we probably started as the better side, Nazon scuffed one wide fairly early on where he really should have put it away. But really, you'd expect us to spank these, even with our trouble for scoring. Whether they're Forest Green Rovers or not, they've had a diabolical start to the season, haven't won away all season and only have one victory altogether.

It was about half an hour in that it happened, Marsh-Brown was given space to roam and reached the edge of the area. He struck a weak effort straight at Burge but the keeper misjudged it and it managed to morph straight through his body. A poor mistake to make. This angered me, not because of the mistake, but because from now on people will go back to slating him when in reality, he's been amazing this season. At the end he clapped the fans off as usual but also literally held his hands up as if to take responsibility for the defeat.



He's still the best goalkeeper at the club by far and in no way shape or form is it his fault we lost. Lee Burge wasn't the one failing to pass properly or unable to shoot competently, it wasn't him who couldn't cross the ball. He's Coventry City through and through, he turned down Championship and League One offers to stay here he loves the club that much. Some fans would do well to remember this.

I've sidetracked slightly but you were warned, this mistake shook us slightly and we just sort of stagnated, waiting for the half time whistle. Which came to a massive chorus of boos. Me personally I was trying not to have a mental breakdown having agreed to go vegan for a month if we didn't win which is a nice little side story as to why I was even more angry than I usually would have been.

Half Time - Coventry City 0-1 Forest Green Rovers

Second Half

I'm going to get this bit done quickly so I can have a rant. Forest Green sat back as predicted and we couldn't score somehow, to a side that have conceded 31 goals this season. Four of which came at home to Newport County, their confidence have never been so low. There's only one word to describe this, embarrassing.

Jordan Ponticelli came on for more than his usual 6 minutes and possibly got the closest out of everyone to scoring with his header almost immediately after coming on which forced a good save from the keeper. Neither Jordan Shipley nor Peter Vincenti could make the difference, seven minutes of injury time couldn't either. Another massive load of boos met the final whistle. It confirmed our worst fears, a home loss to Forest Green Rovers.

Full Time - Coventry City 0-1 Forest Green Rovers

This really is it, the lowest we've ever got. 8th in League Two, losing to a side who no one had really heard of until they went all houmousy a couple of years ago. They're the smallest club to ever been in the Football League. We're the ninth biggest city in England, and I know in reality that means absolutely nothing but it's an absolute disgrace given everything and how poor of a side they are.

I salute the guy who went on to the pitch and spoke his mind, we've all wanted to do it before and he's the only one who's had the guts. He'll get a ban of course but he wasn't aggressive, he went on, said what he had to say and then left without needing to be restrained or grabbed. However it says it all about our shambles of a football club that he could stroll on and talk for half a minute whereas back in February when we got to Wembley stewards used incredible amounts of aggression to try and stop the pitch invasion.

If we go up I can just see this being brought up but right now I can't see any way forward. We lack creativity hugely. We need Haynes back massively, and our strikers don't look anywhere near like scoring. I don't know what to change, but I know that something needs to be done. Still, that's exactly what we employ Robins for. Never have I hated the City so much, last night we didn't care. Mind you, it's an addiction, so see you all Saturday...

My Man of the Match - Jack Grimmer - I can't say I liked anyone's performance too much, but the official MOTM award went to Grimmer so that must mean something. I quite like the guy and he's managed to earn himself the most awards this season from myself but he wasn't amazing by a long shot last night. Still, fair play to the lad.

Monday, 16 October 2017

That Preview Thing: Forest Green Rovers

You'd think facing Accrington Stanley would be the most painful fixture of the season, but no, Forest Green Rovers won the National League Play Off Final against Tranmere Rovers back in May. Now the time has come where we have to see the 32, 609 seater Ricoh Arena, the 18th biggest club stadium in England and Wales, host them. To put that into perspective, the entire population of the town they're in, Nailsworth, could fit into it 4.2 times. The city of Coventry is almost 70 times larger, but enough of the facts and figures, because in reality it doesn't make any sort of difference.



Last Time Out

Accrington Stanley 1-0 Coventry City
McConille (15')
Saturday 14th October 2017
Sky Bet League Two


A painful 1-0 loss at Accrington Stanley in the worst performance of the season, the only other one that gets close is Yeovil. We really can't hack going away from the Ricoh can we? Which makes it all the more lucky that we've got two home fixtures now. Accrington was extremely poor though, a massive hole left by Liam Kelly being injured wasn't filled by Ben Stevenson and I felt like tearing my eyes out when Rod McDonald hoofed the ball at Biamou for the fourteenth time. That's not even an exaggeration, it was that bad.

Last Meeting

It doesn't take a genius to realise that we have never faced Forest Green Rovers in a competitive fixture, I also couldn't find any record of a friendly ever taking place. However there is one thing that connects the two clubs and that is our left back Chris Stokes, so as a bit of a page filler where a short summary would be, here is a picture of the hero himself.


Potential Starting XI:

Burge

Grimmer
Willis
McDonald
Stokes

Doyle
Kelly

Jones
Biamou
Vincenti

Nazon

Liam Kelly was at Accrington on Saturday and was walking about looking fine, so I imagine it was just a knock. Having heard nothing bad you'd think he would be able to jump straight back into the side. Another change I would make would be removing Devon Kelly-Evans from the side in favour of perhaps Peter Vincenti. Ryan Haynes still isn't quite ready for a first team return but the twin does likely need dropping as he's been bullied off the ball a considerable amount lately, something which you can't see being the same for Pete.

Arguably it may be time to drop Biamou as he has yet to score but he seems very much like a confidence player, one he does bag one or two, he won't be able to stop. Personally I'd put in Kwame Thomas but that is looking increasingly less likely given his recent loan move and persistent starts in the u23s. Even Beavon might rear his head in for a start tomorrow night, but is he what you want against a side who are almost certainly going to park the bus and play for a point?

The Opposition

Contrary to what the chairman said at the start of the season, it hasn't been easy for the newest members of the Football League to walk League Two as they sit down in 23rd with just the one win to their name. They shouldn't be taken lightly however, they came away with a point from table topping Notts County not long ago and it really could have been three if it weren't for Rob Milsom's 96th minute equaliser.

Basically, no matter how bad they may be, we still need to try as hard as we can. We could really do with battering a side 3 or 4-0 with goals coming from all over the pitch rather than just The Duck or Jodi Jones. It can't be stressed enough how crucial it is for us to come away with six points from Forest Green and Colchester on Saturday.

Betting Preview

Coventry - 1/2
Draw - 16/5
Forest Green - 6/1

Forest Green are likely coming to park the bus and Mark Robins has said the team have prepared for this. I'm going to give two recommendations, one is both teams to not score at 4/5. The second is a lot more optimistic and assume we can break down their paper defence, Coventry to win to nil at 11/8. I suggested the same about Accrington but put it this way, we've won all but one home game this season and have only conceded one goal, in theory we should be fine.

Prediction

If we get an early goal then we could batter them, but I'm not sure whether we have it in us. If we did this then the visitors would be forced to come out of their shells, leaving us to attack with more freedom. instead though if we don't it could be a really hard contest and with low confidence after the weekends defeat, a struggle to break them down. I could see it fizzling out as a 0-0 with us having over 20 shots but instead I'm going to go with a modest City win.

Coventry City 2-0 Forest Green Rovers

Sunday, 15 October 2017

My Twenty-Third 17/18 Game - Accrington Stanley vs Coventry City

I feel like if you told a fan 20 years ago that we have a league double header against Accrington Stanley and Forest Green Rovers then they would laugh in your face and go back to taking the Premier League for granted. In fairness, our team now isn't much different to back in the nineties, Duckens Nazon is basically Dion Dublin, Devon Kelly-Evans is basically Darren Huckerby and Jodi Jones LITERALLY is Cobi Jones, I refuse to hear otherwise.

I'm getting slightly off track, but this was a big match, we were fifth in the table with the milk advert famous hosts in sixth. Only goal difference separated us. Had we won at Barnet I'd be taking a point here hands down, but we didn't, obviously. However at this stage it doesn't matter endless amounts where we are in the league table, as long as we're up there towards the end of the season and we have't bottled it yet again.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Grimmer
Willis
McDonald
Stokes

Doyle
Stevenson

Jones
Biamou
Dev. Kelly-Evans

Nazon

Coventry City Substitutes:

O'Brien
Davies
Shipley
Vincenti
McNulty
Beavon
Ponticelli

Our midfield two pairing was broken up for the first time this season with Liam Kelly missing out through injury and good lord did it show when Ben Stevenson took his place. The Duck also came back into the side with some pretty hefty jetlag accompanying him. Even with this, he's still likely our biggest goalscoring threat by a country mile. It was just the two changes from our draw with Barnet last week.



First Half

From the off we were an absolute shambles, just five minutes in Burge was called upon to deny McConville, tipping his edge of the box effort on to the bar. He also pulled out a great one handed save to stop Nolan from 25 yards. Equally though in the first (very eventful) ten minutes we had good chances. Nazon struck one over from long range and Jodi was tempted into chipping the keeper when he was spotted off the line. However the angle was too tight and the effort was a good couple of feet over the bar.

Even with this pair of solid breaks from the side we were under the cosh from Stanley. The midfield was almost non existent and we were failing to close down advancing forwards, giving the hosts the firmest control of the game possible. It was only a matter of time before we conceded, and after just fifteen minutes, we did. 

With Jack Grimmer nowhere to be seen McConville latched on to Billy Kee's ball unchallenged and calmly slotted past Burge from close range. Then, unprovoked, he ran straight up to the travelling City fans and shushed them, cupping his hands by his ears and everything. I enjoy fan/player banter, but this was uncalled for, we hadn't abused him or the club in any way. It reminded me of when Lawrence Vigoroux did the same when Swindon scored a late winner last season. Well, at least we got the last laugh on that one with the win their last month and him receiving a 4 match ban.

If we're going by the rules then he really should have been booked here, but it was let slide. This made it more annoying when Ben Stevenson was shown a yellow card for a questionable foul just 5 minutes later. You could see Jodi Jones getting frustrated so he leathered one from 25 yards on the stroke of half time and to be fair to him, it wasn't miles away. The referee soon blew up to put an end to the worst half of football I've seen from us this season.

Half Time - Accrington Stanley 1-0 Coventry City

Second Half

I knew we weren't going to win this game as soon as the second half kicked off as not only were no changed made but also straight away we continued with passing it to Rod McDonald and him hoofing it. Credit where credits due though, we did do some good footballs in this second period, but equally, anything would be better than whatever the first was. It brought back memories of last season's football being played under Venus or Slade.

We were having more attempts but the majority of them were long range. Ten minutes into the second half and Nazon got past a defender well and proceeded to shoot from 25 yards. It took a deflection which looked like it was off an arm and carried to Chapman who pushed wide. On the hour mark we made the substitution I would have done at the break, Devon Kelly-Evans was replaced by Marc McNulty.

As the time ticked down we were dominating the match but couldn't get any serious chances away, Biamou went down in the area with 20 minutes left whilst trying to latch onto McNulty's through ball and it was waved away. At my one glance of looking at it I'd say he made the right call, Biamou saw he wasn't going to make it so leant into the defender and fell down. Occasionally they are given but the referee did well to spot it. Really though the forward was lucky to not be booked for simulation.

We waited until there were just 4 minutes to go to make our second substitution, Jordan Ponticelli made it on for Biamou with much like last week, no real opportunity to do anything. I'm not saying he's ready to start every game but surely half an hour of football isn't going to kill the kid, especially when we've got nothing to lose. Then in injury time we made the most pointless substitution ever with Vincenti coming on for Nazon. 

Full Time - Accrington Stanley 1-0 Coventry City

My Thoughts

What a poor performance that was, I don't know what it is about going away from home but we just lose everything about us. I wouldn't be surprised if we dealt with Forest Green and Colchester with absolute ease in these upcoming fixtures. In fact I've made a deal that if we don't win on Tuesday night then I go vegan for a month. So no pressure.

I didn't realise just how crucial the Doyle/Kelly pairing is until now, because the apple cart was so upset that all of the wheels fell off and the apple carts fans had a big breakdown on Twitter. Hopefully Kelly will return on Tuesday night so I can stop with the odd apple cart analogies. Now, big question, is it time for Ponticelli to start? I agree he may not be ready but we've scored the least goals in the top half. Something needs to be done. Personally I'd bring Kwame Thomas back into the fold but that's just me.

Say it quietly, but Ryan Haynes is back soon. He played last week for the u23s, I'd argue he might be able to come back for Colchester on Saturday. I doubt he'll be in on Tuesday night. Whilst we should give him as much time to recover as he needs so he doesn't aggravate his injury, the thought of him on the left wing and Jodi on the right makes me want Robins to throw him on in a cast and makes his wand of a left foot work.

I've touched on it already but Tuesday night is now incredibly crucial, Forest Green have been horrendous this season and if we don't win then we don't deserve to go up. Plus I'll be indulging in a houmous salad on Wednesday morning which should be fun. I look forward to the unnecessarily nail biting clash very much.

My Man of the Match - Lee Burge - If you think the meltdown currently is strong, just think how bad it would have been if Burge hadn't made those couple of great saves and we'd lost 2-0. Credit is given to the defence, but he's also been just as much of a key part in us keeping 8 clean sheets so far this season. 

Friday, 13 October 2017

That Preview Thing: Accrington Stanley

As a fairly quick disclaimer, I apologise in advance for the amount of milk advert puns I am going to make within this preview. I am sure this is all Accrington fans hear week in week out but this may be one of the only times I'll ever have the opportunity to do so I've got to grasp it with both hands whilst I can. Don't think I'm being overly confident that we'll get promoted, more than opposite and the hosts will instead.



Last Time Out

Onto the actual thing you clicked on this for, and we left Barnet with a slightly frustrating yet hard fought point. It could have been more, but looking at the positives, we kept our eighth clean sheet in twelve games and completely dominated them on the ball. What we lacked was a goal scorer to finish off the chances we were creating.

This is where everyone's favourite Haitian comes in, as Duckens Nazon will be coming back from international duty to fill that void ahead of our trip to The Wham Stadium. Without the loanee we were left with Marc McNulty and Maxime Biamou to try and find the net, both of whom are yet to find their feet with us. However I'm sure it's only a matter of time before they do.

The midfield wasn't as spectacular as it usually is despite the new flashy chant about them never giving the ball away. If anything it made them do it more so. What angered me the most was Liam Kelly's 40 yard volley when he had tonnes of space, two options, and a serious chance of scoring. All of these factors meant we unfortunately had to settle for a 0-0 draw. With the run we have coming up this has left me Craven(dale) a win.

Last Meeting

Coventry City 2-1 Accrington Stanley
Daley (Unknown')
Satchell (Unknown')
Saturday 13th February 1960
League Division Three

If we're talking the last time we competitively played them then you have to go back to 1960, when it's pre-Jimmy Hill you know it was a bloomin' long time ago. I'm sure some of the older folk would recognise a lot of this side but hand on heart the only one I can say rings a bell is George Curtis. More recently though, we faced them in a friendly back in 2012. John Fleck and Cody McDonald both got a brace each as we played our last match preparing for life in League One.

Potential Starting XI:

Burge

Grimmer
Willis
McDonald
Stokes

Doyle
Kelly

Jones
Nazon
Dev. Kelly-Evans

McNulty

It's interesting to see how Mark Robins will react to the draw with Barnet, will Devon be dropped with Vincenti returning? Who gets dropped out of McNulty and Biamou with The Duck returning. Or maybe, just maybe, Ryan Haynes might get a few minutes on the field after recently returning from injury and playing for the u23s. It's unlikely he'll be risked but we could really do with some more creativity on that side.

I'd say nine of that side are nailed on to start, assuming we stay injury free, with the bottom two being the only potential changes that could be made. If there's one thing we do boast up top it's considerable depth, albeit there is a lack in goals. Once again however, it may just be a matter of time before they click and start banging them in for fun.

The Opposition

If we lost to the hosts on Saturday then I wouldn't touch Twitter with a barge pole, because no matter how valiantly we may have played and unlucky we may have been, you'll still get one guy saying "It's Accrington Stanley, we should never be losing to them, shows how far we've fallen" etc. In reality, they're a good side who are only behind us on goal difference.

What I'm trying to do here is damage limitation, we've got the quality to go out there and beat them, but there's a strong chance we won't and people will have an absolute meltdown. Billy Kee has been a machine so far this season and has described himself as being run "on beer and chips". So I tell you what, scratch everything I've said, go mental if we lose.

Betting Preview

Accrington - 23/10
Draw - 21/10
Coventry - 5/4

Nothing is odds on and with relatively good reason, this is going to be a close game. If you want my pessimistic view then I'd say that Accrington at 23/10 is good value, if not and like me you want to be optimistic then 'Coventry to win to nil' is 13-5, with our clean sheet record and The Duck returning, looks like a solid bet. As an outside shot, Duckens Nazon is 66/1 to score a hat trick, so you never know...

Prediction

As I've said, the return of The Duck is absolutely key here, if he's not jet-lagged and is perfectly able to start then there's absolutely no reason why he shouldn't. I will be a tad disappointed if he can rip up the Japanese National Team but not Accrington Stanley Football Club. I think we've got the ability to win, and my optimism is getting the better of me on this occasion.

Accrington Stanley 0-2 Coventry City

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Complete Ranking of the Last 100 Coventry City Signings - 40-21

Ok, so it has genuinely been 52 days since the last instalment of this series went up, mid writing it my laptop had to end it's four and a half year stay with the club due to a career ending injury. Rumour has it Michael Doyle two footed it in the middle of the pitch. Fortunately though, it's taken a while, but I've brought in a replacement. This means that the series will be returning.




If you need to remind yourself of the list so (Even I needed to and I was the one who spent about 7 hours trying to work it out) far then you can do so here:

100-81:

http://www.shootingtowin.co.uk/2017/08/complete-ranking-of-last-100-coventry.html

80-61:

http://www.shootingtowin.co.uk/2017/08/complete-ranking-of-last-100-coventry_7.html

60-41:

http://www.shootingtowin.co.uk/2017/08/complete-ranking-of-last-100-coventry_21.html

40. Kwame Thomas

Appearances: 14
Goals: 3

After the, lets face it, bottlejob season under Tony Mowbray in the 2015/16 campaign, he was tasked with trying to go one better. Even though it took him absolutely ages for the first signing to be made, we were all excited when the teaser tweet came on. It's fair to say we were slightly underwhelmed to see that Kwame Thomas was behind it.

Being played injured for the first two games was never a good start, so he aggravated it against Shrewsbury Town and wasn't heard of for about 6 months. Literally, not one piece of news was broadcast to the world regarding the length or seriousness of it. I feel completely responsible for his return having started the '#KwamBack' movement on Twitter. It worked, upon coming back he netted in at Oldham, almost mounting a comeback.

In that brief stint of games between returning from injury and Russell Slade getting sacked he looked like a decent little player. His goal at home to Port Vale where he used his footballing brain to backheel it in was a personal highlight. Under Robins however he's fallen out of favour, perhaps unjustly. Then again, we're having trouble finding goals from anyone other than The Duck and Kwame has just come back from his loan at Sutton, he may get a chance to shine very soon.

39. Chris McCann

Appearances: 19
Goals: 1

Another of Tony Mowbray's masterstrokes last season, he wasn't horrendous by a long stretch, but when a player has a dream move to Atlanta United in the USA where he'll be being paid bags of money on the horizon, he's not going to be overly interested. Towards the end of his City career he was just strutting about the place like he didn't really care.

Saying all of that, he did provide some of the best non-Checkatrade related scenes of last season with his one and only goal of last season at Port Vale. It was our only league away win, and given the amount of matches we'd bottled leading up to it, when he rifled it in off the bar with 20 minutes left there was carnage in the away end. I'll likely remember him for that instead of misplacing 2 yard passes in his penultimate game for the club.

38. Blair Adams

Appearances: 64
Goals: 0

Played in that side for a lot more games than I remember him making, saying that I remember going to his debut game *sheds tear*, a 5-0 win at Hartlepool. Back at the 4-0 defeat to Cambridge in the FA Cup in December he was on the bench training for the opposition and found the "Oh Blair Adams, it could have been you" chant hilarious.

37. Marc-Antoine Fortune

Appearances: 26
Goals: 4

Rumour has it we were extremely close to signing Nicky Ajose on that fateful Deadline Day in August 2015 but instead this lad turned up in a suit claiming to be the goals to help out Armstrong. Ajose went on to be one of the top scorers in the division, Fortune on the other hand turned out to be the first of many, many banter players in that squad. See the rest of this list for the others.

He was so bad he was good, he held it up well. In fact I can state the four goals of his career here off the top of my head they are that memorable. There was the penalty against Shrewsbury, the tap in against Colchester, the foul on the keeper and smash it from 2 yards at Blackpool and of course my favourite of them all. Sheffield United at home, Adam Armstrong tries his luck from 30 yards, it cannons off Fortune's backside and trickles in with the keeper on the ground helpless.

36. Sam Ricketts

Appearances: 56
Goals: 1

"Go on Sam" Ricketts was a solid captain for the one full season he played in, towards the end however he begin to start depleting as a player and it probably would have been best had we released him. Don't get me wrong, class bloke, I met him once at Rugby Train Station and he was a good laugh, was angry with a 0-0 draw which you like.

Saying that, he was the only defender above the age of about 20 in the side early on last season, but was a bit over the top at 35. It was clear that he couldn't play every game but due to Tony Mowbray's transfer window incompetence he had to. This took his toll and around October/November time he suffered a career ending knee injury. He took up a coaching role with the club upon his retirement and left when his contract expired. He'll forever be in our hearts.

35. Jordan Turnbull

Appearances: 47
Goals: 2

He was the much needed centre back we were all crying out for, and all it cost us was one Romain Vincelot. He swaggered in with his incredible barnet and got sent off on his debut when we bottled a 1-0 lead to lose 3-1 at Bradford. Upon return he was slated with no end for bottling headers and giving the ball away countless time in dangerous positions. However at one dark stage he was or top goalscorer after his 2 goals against West Ham's youth team in our Checkatrade Trophy opener against them.

He was one of very few players to actually get better under Russell Slade, whilst the team got worse, he managed to gain the basics to be a fairly solid defender. Then again, he had a clause in his contract which said he was free to go if we got relegated. I forget that technically he still plays for us and is only out on loan. He'll likely return from his loan at Partick Thistle and re-enter the fold if we get promoted. But to be honest, I'd be content with Jordan Willis and Concrete Rod McDonald as first choices.

34. Marcus Tudgay

Appearances: 84
Goals: 13

Ah Marcus Tudgay, where oh where do I begin, how on earth did he make close to a hundred appearances across three years? The best stage was towards the end of the 15/16 season where he managed to score a couple of goals to earn himself another year on his contract. I'm not blaming Mowbray for this one, I fully backed the decision.

That final year however was just horrible, we were poor that year and most of it was taken out on Tudgay. Although I was alive to witness his incredibly unlikely screamer at Oldham in February and almost fainted in the process. It was made all the more hilarious as it came straight after Kevin Foley scored an own goal by booting it in off his own face. Even Kwame scored that game, what a day that was.

33. Danny Seaborne

Appearances: 24
Goals: 1

Danny Seaborne was a player who when making this list, I forgot about, so admittedly he's perhaps a tad higher than he should be. Saying that, he was a solid centre back who gets forgotten about as it was in the Sixfields season. To be fair, everyone wants to forget about the Sixfields season so you'd be forgiven for not rating him as highly as I have.

32. Stuart Beavon

Appearances: 30
Goals: 3

If Stuart Beavon was as half as good as the chants the surround him then we'd have our 20 goal a season striker right there. Instead however he's adequate replacement as banter player for this season. He was brought in for our top goalscorer which was bad in itself, ignoring the fact he got 12 in 92 for them and we needed that in about half a season.

His start to this season has been up and down, if I were to do this list again then I wouldn't put him as high as I have but I suppose you pay the price for waiting 6 weeks between instalments. He's not a starter, but is a goos player to bring on when you're holding out for a 1 goal win as he knows exactly what to do to frustrate the opposition and make the minutes tick down. Ask me the same in a years time and I'll likely be less considerate.

31. Baily Cargill

Appearances: 5
Goals: 1

I know what you're thinking, 5 appearances gets you into the 31? I'll respond with two things, the first being, there's worse yet to come and secondly, he looked like a class player in the very little time he had with us. Our defence was in serious trouble so we made 2 Deadline Day loan signings. Cargill and his partner (who is still yet to come) were brilliant panic deals who did a fine job.

30. Steve Jennings

Appearances: 49
Goals: 2

I appear to have almost completely tuned out the fact that this Steve Jennings character made 50 appearances for us. I have fonder memories of Lateef, but after consulting with various people I understand that he wasn't all that bad of a footballer. He joined back in our first season in League One on a free transfer. This is possibly the worst overview of a player so far, and I've regurgitated A LOT of words and phrases. For some reason I can't remember him properly.

29. Ben Turner

Appearances: 5
Goals: 1

Right ok so it's another single digit player high up, and I won't lie, he's not the last. 'Big Ben' Turner gets on here so high because much like the return of Doyler, he made my 8 year old self come out and hyperventilate. Cardiff only loaned him to us so he could recover properly from injury, and after nutting in one on his debut and making a couple more appearances, he did in his other knee.

Whilst you could say his career has gone uphill since leaving by joining Championship Burton Albion, he's also been charged with racial abuse and banned for a few games. City hero and all that though, I'd take him back in an absolute instant if we went up and Burton went down. It's all ifs and buts however, I'm likely just been tremendously optimistic.

28.  James Bailey

Appearances: 37
Goals: 2

Imagine your debut game being Arsenal away in the cup and then having to go to the likes of Crawley a few days later. The Derby loanee showed decent skill in his time here, so much so that he got his deal extended and joined an elite club of Coventry City players who can be actually be described as successful loans. Once in a blue moon do we get them.

27. Jamie Sterry

Appearances: 20
Goals: 1

Out of last seasons misfits, Jamie Sterry was probably the only one who was half decent. It's mainly in protest to how much I hated Lewis Page on the other side. It says something that he'd be the only member of the banter bunch whom I would have kept beyond January, however it wasn't to be and he was replaced by Kevin Foley. Why did we ever sack Russell Slade...?

26. Ruben Lameiras

Appearances: 69
Goals: 7

Could pull off tricks like Jodi Jones before Jodi Jones was Jodi Jones. Except perhaps not as good, and maybe not as frequent. He would've been a mainstay in the 15/16 season had we not had a ridiculous wealth of attacking options in that season. The following year our various managers had no excuse to play him as sporadicly as they did, we desperately needed creativity but instead we played Andre Wright for go knows how long. I wish him the best of luck at Plymouth but as of yet it doesn't appear to be going too well.

25. Stephen Elliott

Appearances: 25
Goals: 4

A nice little impact player for us when he was called upon, scored a brace on one of our many appearances to MK Dons to help us win 3-2. Possibly up this high for sentimental reasons of how much I loved that day and really thought we could go up because of it but nowadays you look back and see 4 in 25 and turn up you nose. As we edge closer to the end I realise that my views and that of the reader are going to be tremendously different.

24. Frank Nouble

Appearances: 34
Goals: 7

Now he's at Newport County and scoring goals like there's no tomorrow you begin to think whether we made the right decision to let him go. Deep down we all know we did, but when our strikers are really struggling to confidently put them away it makes you wonder. Still, we'll always have the memories of that goal on our Ricoh Arena return which we celebrated like we'd won the league. Really it was the only goal in a 1-0 win over Gillingham but on the night it felt like so much more.

23. Andy Rose

Appearances: 40
Goals: 5

I don't know what it was about him, but he was one of my favourite players during his time there. No one will ever be able to take the "Fastest ever Coventry City substitute goal" away from him with his incredible volley against Bradford. Had he stayed fit he'd have been a brilliant midfielder and I reckon he would have stayed had we offered him a new contract. We were right to release him when we did, not down to ability, more injury proneness, fingers crossed he makes it work north of the border.

22. Chris Maguire

Appearances: 3
Goals: 2

The penultimate player of this section of the list, and I promise this is the last time you'll look at your screen and think "Oh for Christ sake". Yes, he only made three appearances, but, (and you all know what I'm going to say here) do you remember THAT game against MK Dons? We come from 1-0 down to win 3-1, two of the goals came from that man Chris Maguire with incredible free kicks. Sheffield Wednesday were so impressed with him that they recalled him almost immediately after. I like to think he'll come back one day and finish what he started.

21. William Edjenguele

Appearances: 40
Goals: 1

Ah, 'Billy Edge' as he became known, was a cult hero in his time here. The big no nonsense centre joined an elite club with his style of play. Other members include Reda Johnson and Nathan Cameron, Rod McDonald is currently enjoying his trial period and if he impresses for the rest of it then the elders may have something to think about. Why oh why was his contract terminated. I'm fairly sure he's knocking about in Greece somewhere these days.

We're nearly there, just one post in the series remains, who will come out on top? Will Lateef come in at number one in a shock twist? No one knows, well, no one other than me. Whether or not it will take me another 2 months for the finale to come out is a mystery however. Ideally it will be out somewhere between the Forest Green report next Tuesday and the Colchester preview on the following Friday. Being completely honest, your guess is as good as mine.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

My Twenty-Second 17/18 Game - Barnet vs Coventry City

With 3 wins on the bounce under our belt and a win/draw in the Checkatrade Trophy, overconfidence was very much a danger. Barnet being in poor form just added to the unnecessary pressure, as on paper, we should be winning with relative ease. To make things even better, their star man last season John Akinde was out injured.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Grimmer
Willis
McDonald
Stokes

Doyle
Kelly

Jones
McNulty
Dev. Kelly-Evans

Biamou

Coventry City Substitutes:

O'Brien
Davies
Shipley
Stevenson
Vincenti
Biamou
Ponticelli

If I had the choice, that is likely the exact side I would've played, it brings Marc McNulty back into the fold after an impressive performance on Tuesday night in the cup. Biamou remained after a couple of slightly above average performances in recent games, but mainly because our beloved pond  bird is away sampling the delights of international football.

First Half

This is going to be a slight struggle to write, as *spoiler alert* it was a fairly horrendously boring 0-0 draw. Although if you were interested enough to click on this post then you probably already knew the score anyway. ANYWAY, once this competitive season have we drawn 0-0 and that was at Chesterfield, but even that had some chunky talking points such as Vincenti's disallowed goal or McNulty's inability to remember how to score.

Because of this I'm going to be bringing back everyone's beloved feature at the end, 'My Thoughts', but this time, a tad less ranty. Before that though, match events. Out of the two halves, the first was more tedious than the second. We were playing long ball against a side who specialise in long ball, and a side who were happy to play for a draw at that.

Concrete Rod seemed to launch one at the especially short Devon Kelly-Evans almost every time he received the ball, the poor lad never had a chance. It became incredibly boring because of this, I'm not sure if I've mentioned. There were only 2 mild have chances of note, Biamou's looping header and Akpa-Akpro's (Best Football name since Eric Djemba-Djemba) shot from a tight angle which he leathered into the stands.

Half Time - Barnet 0-0 Coventry City

Upon watching the match highlights on YouTube I realise that the second half was more eventful than originally thought. The 15 minute period after kick off really should have been when we scored and took control, we did get so very close. Marc McNulty was played in down the right and cut back to Devon Kelly-Evans, he sliced it into the path of Doyler who could only stretch enough to tap it. Had the skipper left in then Jodi Jones was free waiting to have a go at goal.

Jack Grimmer's run and cross down the right was met by Max Biamou, but unfortunately he could only direct it at the keeper for him to make an easy save. I then saw something which made me want to tear my own eyes out, it's a 3 on 3, Liam Kelly has tremendous amounts of space 40 yards out, McNulty is free on the right or equally he could run into the gap. Instead however, he tries his lucky and it goes high and wide. That was the one that shot me, not literally, although even though I was at the back of the stand it was blooming close.



A Jodi Jones weak foot scuff later and the pressure began to ease off, Barnet were sitting back trying for the draw and we seemed to be obeying that. In the last couple of minutes we had one last flurry and got incredibly unlucky, after two more Jordans entered the fray in Shipley and Ponticelli for Devon and McNulty. Just outside the area, the ball was presented to Kelly who this time was in an actual acceptable shooting position, he forced a great save from Ross.

The resulting corner was met by Biamou and it was cleared off the line, the rebound came to him but the shot resulted in exactly the same and was cleared. Agonisingly close, and that was our last action of the game, just the one point, but it could have and should have been all three which made it even more frustrating.

Full Time - Barnet 0-0 Coventry City

My Thoughts

We weren't at our best today, yet managed another clean sheet and took a point from a well set up side, it's not the absolute end of the world. It was just the fact that it should have been more that is frustrating. We really missed The Duck today, that was evident, I'm confident had he started we'd have taken the chances.

We'll welcome him back with open arms, especially with the tough run we've got coming up. Accrington and Luton away stick out as huge games, the first of which is next Saturday. This emphasises that we need to take maximum points from our two home games this month and nothing else. Forest Green and Colchester (minus Kyel Reid) aren't the best of sides but there both capable of pulling surprises out of the back, meaning we can't be complacent. On a side note, I've now got a laptop. Meaning more posts than just match reports will be going up from now on, so look out for that.

My Man of the Match - Jodi Jones - He makes a mediocre team look good, Barnet dealt with him well by putting 2 or 3 men on him at once but when he was given half a chance to flourish he took it with two hands. He tore their left back to shreds on occasion, had Biamou knocked in one of his crosses it'd be a different story. God help us if he goes in January.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

My Twenty-First 17/18 Game - Walsall vs Coventry City

Walsall away was always a big occasion during our League One days being one of the closest things we got to a derby. Still clinging to that memory, we drew them away in the Checkatrade Trophy Group Stages, really only a win would do after a last minute free kick consigned us to defeat at home to Shrewsbury in the opener.

Coventry City Starting XI:

O'Brien

Di. Kelly-Evans
Grimmer
Hyam
Camwell

Stevenson
Maycock

Vincenti
Beavon
Shipley

McNulty

Coventry City Substitutes:

Addai
Ford
Hickman
Finn
Bayliss
Sayoud
Ponticelli

You could tell that we really didn't care whether we defended the title or not by the fact we were willing to take the fine on the chin, with 10 changes made. The only player to keep his spot was Jack Grimmer, whom took the armband for the night. The bench was made up of purely under 23 players, amongst them of course Jordan Ponticelli. Not a day has gone by when I haven't seen someone scream for him to be thrown into our winning side.

First Half

Aside from the fact that we won it last season, there are many reasons why I love the Checkatrade Trophy. Michael Doyle was doing the shooting training for one, whereas Devon Kelly-Evans and his dad were in the away end to cheer on Dion. Walsall appeared to put out a relatively strong side, with Daniel Agyei of all people spearheading their attack.

Somehow, our B Team managed to dominate Walsall for the majority of the first half, Stuart Beavon had an early chance but it was cleared off the line. In fact last ditch blocks and clearances were usually what was keeping the hosts from going behind. It seemed the whole of the midfield and attack had a go but Roberts and co. we're preventing it all.

On a rare attack, Walsall midfielder Zeli Ismail ventured into the area and was dragged down somewhat softly by Peter Vincenti. I'm not saying it wasn't s penalty, he had every right to go down and Big Pete had no reason to be that physical with him. Either way, despite a tussle with Agyei, Ismail himself stepped up and calmly slotted home. Vincenti nearly redeemed himself instantly but headed straight at the keeper, which was the last action of the half.

Half Time - Walsall 1-0 Coventry City

Second Half

About 70% of fans went weak at this knees when Ponticelli was introduced at the break, Beavon was the one whom he replaced. I make it sound like I hate the guy, I don't, I want him to be a bagsman as much as everyone else, I just don't think it's worth the risk when we're winning games like we are. Saying that, he made an instant impact by drawing a foul in the area from Walsall keeper Liam Roberts.

Obviously, Marc McPenulty stepped up to take the spot kick and did what he does best by netting and levelling up the game with only 8 minutes of the second half played. He's only 14 away from having 20 penalties this season (including friendlies that is), and if I were you, I'd put serious money on that.*



This seemed to the straw which broke the camels back, as just 5 minutes later McNulty was played through but rather unselfishly squared it to Ponticelli. It was a heart in mouth moment, obviously you want him to score but can you deal with the "I told you so" storm which would inevitably follow? Fortunately, it was the latter of the two.

Steaming down to the front and celebrating with Chris Camwell was a personal highlight, I don't care what people say. This Trophy has provided me with some of the best memories possible, and I love it for that. Saying that I hope the whole B Team thing is scrapped ASAP, but equally we probably wouldn't have won it last season had they not been in there. Swings and roundabouts.

Bilal Sayoud came on for Callum Maycock to make his first ever senior appearance for the club, a highly rated youngster we signed from the Nike Academy who I believe can play absolutely anywhere on the pitch. We looked to be seeing the game out for a good 2-1 win, but that wasn't to be. In injury time, there was a big goalmouth scramble which was halted when *sigh* Daniel Agyei, poked home. Walsall grabbed at least a point late on. But due to the weird rules it goes to penalties.

Instead of individually talking about every penalty, I'll do a list, because even I, a man of many many words, cannot talk random rubbish about about some blokes booting some leather at a net from 12 yards. The new ABBA shootout format was to be taken right in front of the City fans, well, after we'd all jumped into the empty end behind the goal.

Marc McNulty (Coventry) - Missed - 0-0

Erhun Oztumer (Walsall) - Scored - 1-0

Luke Leahy (Walsall) - Scored - 2-0

Peter Vincenti (Coventry) - Scored - 2-1

Ben Stevenson (Coventry) - Scored - 2-2

Daniel Agyei (Walsall) - Missed - 2-2 (HAHAHA)

Amadou Bakayoko (Walsall) - Scored - 3-2

Jordan Shipley (Coventry) - Scored - 3-3

Jordan Ponticelli (Coventry) - Scored - 3-4

Joe Edwards (Walsall) - Missed - 3-4

(Coventry City win 4-3 on penalties)

So after a head scratching penalty shootout we gained a crucial extra point. Now all we need to go through is to beat West Brom u23s and for Shrewsbury to win or draw (and win on penalties) with Walsall. That would mean an away tie in the first knockout round, I think. We won the bloody thing last season and I still don't know how it works.

More crucially though, we face Barnet on Saturday where in theory we could go top. Or at least we could gain places as those above have very tough games. Apart from Notts County that is, they have Forest Green at home. Mark Robins says he backs us for promotion, which scares me, it feels very much like the time Mowbray said "I've learned from the time I was top at Christmas with Middlesbrough and we finished outside the play offs" and then the exact same thing happened with us.

My Man of the Match - Jack Grimmer - I don't get why he gets so much stick along with Chris Stokes, he's been great this season, and was a good makeshift centre back. I just hope he rips everyone apart on that flank from now on so people calling him a "weak link". This puts him on four MMOTM awards this season, the most out of everyone. That may be a mistake on my part, Jodi Jones has easily been the best player this campaign.