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. 

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