Sunday, 26 November 2017

My Thirty-Second 17/18 Game - Coventry City vs Crawley Town

Still in our deep mourning period after the loss of Jodi Jones, I was half expecting the side to come out with 'Jones 11' shirts worn backwards much like Manchester City did last season when Ilkay Gundogan got injured for the season. The only difference is we don't have Kevin de Bruyne to pick up the pieces, nor Leeroy Sane, more like Devon Kelly-Evans and Peter Vincenti. What I'm trying to get at here is, we're in trouble, so need to start winning games without Jodi, because we literally have no other choice. The first match of the 'Life After Jodi' documentary saw us face Crawley Town at the Ricoh, one where 3 points really need to be picked up.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Grimmer
Willis
Davies
McDonald
Haynes

Doyle
Shipley

McNulty
Beavon
Nazon

Coventry City Substitutes:

O'Brien
Stokes
Maycock
Stevenson
Dev. Kelly-Evans
Biamou
Ponticelli

Our unfortunate ACL situation involving the aforementioned genius winger and of course Tony Andreu whom we lost earlier in the season meant that we were forced to change the formation. At first glance it looks very positive, Grimmer and Haynes are finally getting a shot as wing-backs, which is one more step to the position everyone has been crying out for Haynes to take up for a long period of time. However you then reach Stuart Beavon and just look and think "Why?" Max Biamou had arguably his best game for us on Tuesday but fair enough he may need a rest, even then Jordan Ponticelli probably should have been given another go. I like Beavon more than most people, but he's someone you bring on when you're winning and want to see out a game, or he's another option to frustrate the defence. Not a starter.

First Half

The early stages saw us start brightly, something we've seen time and time again. What we've also seen a number of times is that we really struggle to break the defence down and actually take an early lead. we have done since September. This was likely mentioned by Robins in the briefing, Crawley, like a lot of teams, would come to park the bus against us and play for a point. Our first chance of note came just four minutes in when a long range Shipley free kick was crossed in and missed everyone, it very nearly crept into the far corner. Morris did well to keep it out considering how unexpected it was.



After roughly 20 minutes Beavon laid off Nazon who let fly from 20 yards but it agonisingly deflected onto the post. This was likely the pick of the bunch for us in the first half, it was the closest we came but was very lucky to even make it that close to the goal. Coming into the game Crawley were 21st, shipping goals everwhere, and we couldn't break them down in the first half to save our lives. This not scoring thing is going to be come a serious problem soon, as we're on the verge of dropping out of the play offs as it is. I fear that once we do, we won't come back.

Our poor attacking cost us on the stroke of half time when the visitors virtually walked through our defence, Jordan Roberts lost his static marker and simply placed the ball into the far corner from 12 yards. Perhaps undeserved but football is football and if you don't take your chances you will inevitably pay the price, whoever you're playing against. They gave us no time to respond before the half time whistle was blown, sparking one of the more angrier chicken balti pies I've eaten in my lifetime.

Half Time - Coventry City 0-1 Crawley Town

Second Half

We made the side more creative and attacking with our substitution of Ben Stevenson for Tom Davies, not only was it tactical, but also logical considering the centre back almost snapped someone in two on the break half an hour in, putting him on a yellow card and thin ice. Things weren't looking especially promising for the second period when Crawley's Enzio Boldewijn clattered the bar with just two minutes played. This *finally* was the wake up call to get our attention and put us into action.

Using his mighty amount of pace, Stuart Beavon plodded along the right wing and put a great ball into the area where Nazon was licking his lips waiting for, but unfortunately, as if it were in a cartoon, he mis-kicked it and it was cleared out for a corner. All that was missing was a big cloud of dust and a "Wah wah wah wahhhhh" sound effect, still, poor attempts are better than no attempts, so we picked ourselves up and got going again.

Our best effort of the half came when Shipley crossed into the area, with the ball bouncing around the area as we desperately tried to aim it towards the goal. McNulty was dispossessed but the clearance was poor, reaching Grimmer who was just inside the area, he spooned over the bar when he really needed to hit the target. Saying that, he is a right back, they aren't really known for their attacking sharpness.

Committing bodies forward more meant that Crawley did get the odd opportunity, their best coming from a free kick, Roberts' strike made it over the wall but Burge was down well to turn round for a corner. 20 minutes remained on the clock so Robins decided to add some energetic flare to the attack, Jordan Ponticelli replaced Stuart Beavon, a very logical thing to do at this stage in the game. He almost had an instant impact when he played in Nazon, but once more he couldn't get the shot away. Not his best game in a City shirt.

Ryan Haynes went on a trademark darting run down the left flank with 15 minutes left, his inch perfect cross was brought down by The Duck, who teed off to Marc McNulty, muscling his defender out of the way he leathered it into the top corner for his sixth of the season. I'm so glad it was him rather than anyone else, he was our marquee signing  of the summer and the goals are finally starting to come from him. He'll be incredibly crucial over the second half of the season.

Now that we had the equaliser our confidence was returning in bucketloads, much like against Lincoln last week, we were just unlucky that this time around it came a bit later on. Still, 15 minutes is a long time in football and we looked more like scoring every minute. Jack Grimmer wonderfully nutmegged his opposite number to give him a free run into the box, he played it along the goal mouth with just the faintest of touches needed to take it into the net. McNulty was bounding into the six yard box ready to put it in the empty net, but much like Gazza against Germany at Italia 90', it seemed to go through his foot and painfully out for a goal kick. I'm not sure whether McNulty needed to be quicker or Grimmer's ball needed to be slower and more accurate. It's all ifs and buts but we still had a good chance of winning the game with all of the possession going our way.

We added some more pace into the side with Devon Kelly-Evans coming on in place of Jordan Shipley, meaning we were donning a 4-2-4 formation in the dying stages. What didn't help the cause was Crawley were still happy to play with their backs against the wall, time wasting and all. You can't blame them but it's very frustrating to watch. Even the physio took the mick, going on a leisurely jog across the field when one of their players was down and supposedly needed treatment.

In the last minute of injury time we had our final chance to snatch 3 points, Doyle played in Ponticelli clean through, all he needed to do was run towards the goal for a few yards and then have a shot. Instead he took it wide slightly and let the defenders get back in a position to be able to block it and clear their lines. The six minutes of injury time were full of stoppages so likely only about 30 seconds was actual football.

Full Time - Coventry City 1-1 Crawley Town

Really this isn't good enough, it's the sort of result where if we finish just outside the play offs in May we'll be thinking "Bloody hell we only drew with Crawley Town". The new formation needs a bit of time to gel, and we need to sort out our home league form, thankfully next up we're in the FA Cup against Boreham Wood. A win against them could set up a big third round tie in January, creating revenue to maybe replace our fallen soldiers in the window. The thought of Aston Villa at home makes your mouth water, however likely it may be.

My Man of the Match - Stuart Beavon - In his 69 minutes on the field he had a very Stuart Beavon good game, didn't provide any attacking threat, in fact we really kicked on when he came off, but frustrated the defence and linked up play very well. This adds to the fact that if we need to play out a victory then we should bring him on, and keep him in the locker for that eventuality. He could be a good figure to have next week versus Boreham Wood.





Wednesday, 22 November 2017

My Thirty-First 17/18 Game - Stevenage vs Coventry City

Lincoln away gave us all a feeling of completely unexpected ecstasy, made all the more incredible by the fact we came from behind. Just three days later we were given the golden opportunity to strengthen our play off position further with a trip to struggling, but still not really that far behind us Stevenage. Speaking to a fan in advance there were rumours that if we came out with all three points then Darren Sarll could be sacked by the hosts.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Willis
Davies
McDonald
Haynes

Jones
Doyle
Kelly
Shipley

McNulty
Biamou

Coventry City Substitutes:

O'Brien
Hyam
Stokes
Maycock
Vincenti
Dev. Kelly-Evans
Ponticelli

Had he not decided to rip his shirt off and display it to the Lincoln fans The Duck would have almost definitely started, who he would have replaced we'll never know but you'd assume it would have been McNulty. Instead we remained unchanged from the side who played mediocrely against Lincoln prior to the Haiti international coming off the bench. However with Stevenage's poor form and our defensive record it was definitely still capable of getting three points.

First Half

Fairly early on and we had the ball in the back of the net after Biamou outmuscled the last defender before smacking in off the post from the edge of the area, unfortunately though it was ruled out for a foul. Personally it seemed more like he won a 50/50 but the referee saw otherwise, a bright start but the scores remained 0-0. Immediately after however we were dealt a fairly heavy blow when Liam Kelly pulled up with an injury, no Ben Stevenson on the bench meant that Callum Maycock was the one who had the replace him.

We need not have worried about whether or not the disallowed goal should have counted as just a few minutes later a corner was whipped into the box by Jordan Shipley, after a lot of bouncing around the area it was bundled into the net. It was the most League Two goal I've ever seen, no one had a clue who got the final touch, four different names were thrown around the away end. Callum Maycock scoring with his first touch was the first, closely followed by Shipley directly from a corner, then Tom Davies on the line before the fans, Sky and the BBC all settled on Marc McNulty.

I feel sorry for Sparky in a way, he's only scored one proper goal which wasn't a penalty or controversial/scrappy all season. Still however, they all count, taking his tally to five for the season, he could still make it to twenty goals like Mark Robins assures us he is capable of doing. Despite the goal, we weren't playing amazingly but at this stage we didn't really need to as the hosts were even poorer than ourselves. This culminated in a rather dull second half of the first period.

Half Time - Stevenage 0-1 Coventry City

Second Half

Our player of the season so far Jodi Jones came out ripping the Boro' defence to pieces with his runs, just four minutes in he had an opportunity after cutting in but couldn't direct it goalward. His free kick not long after clipped the wall, doing just enough for it to trickle out for a corner. Then, as if it were in a film, tragedy struck. It wasn't a horrendous challenge, but a freak of nature, a bad fall or something similar. The bottom line, Jodi had to be stretchered off and taken to hospital. Not to sound overdramatic, but if this is bad then it could be our season over. All we can do is sit and hope it's not too bad and by the time he returns we're still in the fight for promotion.



As if a dark cloud was placed over us when the injury occurred, we fell to pieces right after. We'd been fairly poor all game but now our main attacking threat had been swapped with Peter Vincenti, and the two are very different players who offer very different things. From here on in we just invited the pressure on ourselves as we tried to hold out for the one goal lead, something which we would usually be able to do but we hadn't really come out of the blocks on the night so it was always going to be difficult.

With 15 minutes on the clock a McKee shot rebounded right off Rod McDonald and into the path of Tom Pett, Lee Burge did his best to try and make himself big but the hosts equalised nonetheless with a smart finish in off the bar. You could argue that the defence should have been quicker to the ball to clear but equally it was an unlucky bounce which favoured Pett. Right after the restart Jordan Shipley was played in 20 yards out by McNulty and his first time shot went just over the bar, had he kept it down a touch then he may have been able to add to his League Two Goal of the Month award collection.

With seven minutes of injury time brought up on the board Mark Robins felt that this would be the appropriate time to bring on Jordan Ponticelli, which I can't understand. He either starts him, or brings him on with little to no time to make a real impact, this change should have been made when the equaliser went in, but Marc McNulty trotted off in the 92nd minute. Unsurprisingly it was too late for Ponticelli to do anything, and the game finished at level scores.

Full Time - Stevenage 1-1 Coventry City

I'd have taken a point to begin with, but at what cost has it come? As I've already said, we don't know what the consequences of Jodi's injury is yet but I'm assuming it will be bad. What we need to do now is to prove we can play without him and go out fighting on Saturday, maybe battering Crawley in the process. This may require changing formation to a diamond or even playing Ryan Haynes in the spot he was born to play in on the wing. Time will tell, but I bet you it'll be Devon Kelly-Evans and Peter Vincenti, whom you never know, could be a brilliant little and large combo on either wing, however unlikely it may sound.

My Man of the Match - Maxime Biamou - Whilst he's still not managed a league goal yet, Max did link up play very well and manage to win ever single header that was thrown his way. If McNulty started bagging goals off the flick ons provided then it would be a different story, I still think we are yet to see the best of him, he may even excel in our potential FA Cup run much like at his previous club.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

My Thirtieth 17/18 Game - Lincoln City vs Coventry City

Coming in off the back of the Mansfield Town loss last week most fans felt very delated, including myself, a game which could have easily gone either way and we came out with nothing. Something similar happened last season when we faced top of the table Scunthorpe United, on any other day we could have won it but lost 1-0. This knocked confidence so much that we went into the following fixture away at Oxford United and lost 4-1 in possibly the worst performance of the season. In fact it sparked a run without a win stretching 2 whole months into the middle of February. So I was hoping with every atom of my existence we put connotations of that to bed immediately.

Much like ourselves, Lincoln have had a solid start to the season, sitting in eighth place prior to kick off, something a large number of people wouldn't have been expecting them to do straight from gaining promotion. Given the incredibly tight pack we find ourselves at the top of, to gain 3 points here was absolutely crucial, however tough it may be. To put things into perspective, we were as close to third place Luton as we were to sixteenth place Cheltenham.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Willis
Davies
McDonald
Haynes

Jones
Doyle
Kelly
Shipley

McNulty
Biamou

Coventry City Substitutes:

O'Brien
Hyam
Stokes
Maycock
Vincenti
Nazon
Ponticelli

3 changes from the side which narrowly lost to Mansfield last week, Jordan Shipley came in as a straight swap for Peter Vincenti on the left. Maxime Biamou came in for Jordan Ponticelli, a switch which is harsh on the young lad but had to be done, since Nazon had just come back from international duty and was likely jet-lagged and tired, Biamou was the only option. You can't help but think Kwame Thomas would do well in this situation, had he not been carted out on loan again to Solihull Moors.

First Half

The game I described as having "0-0 written all over it" started out very lively, with Jordan Shipley being played in on the left perfectly by Ryan Haynes. Shippers played a great ball into the 'Corridor of Uncertainty' but no City player was there waiting to tap it in from a few yards leaving the ball to agonisingly make its way along the goal mouth and out the other end.

Around the 15th minute we had a couple of shots from range which trickled through to Vickers, first from McNulty, and then a few minutes later from Doyle. These go down in the stats as shots on target but it's pushing the boat very far to refer to them as good chances. Our main source of attacks was coming from down the left with Ryan Haynes darting down the left whenever he got the chance as opposed to his teammates in the backline launching balls at Jodi and McNulty. On the 20th minute mark he made it past his opposite number to put a good ball into Biamou, who couldn't direct it goalwards.



Despite it looking like we were dominating we were still shaky on the ball with Lincoln taking control for periods of the half. Their goal came half an hour in when a cross was met by Matt Rhead who was unmarked at the back post, he poked in to make it 1-0 and I can't say I was surprised, we were allowing them a lot of time on the ball. However this didn't deter us and immediately after Jordan Shipley was denied an equaliser by a great save from Vickers. The remainder of the half was played out, being controlled by the hosts.

Half Time - Lincoln City 1-0 Coventry City

Second Half

I don't know what Robins said, but from the off it was like a whole new team had come out, it may have had something to do with the fact McNulty was replaced by Nazon just five minutes into the second period. The Lincoln defence now had three dangerous people to watch out for in the form of Jodi, Haynes and now The Duck, meaning they had to lay off the double marking of Jodi Jones. A terrible mistake on their part. He could now leave his marker for dead. It didn't take long for this to take effect.

Our first real chance came with Tom Davies' header three minutes after the change was made, somehow Vickers got across the box to keep it out and keep the hosts ahead.On the hour mark Shipley found space in the middle of the park and played an inch perfect ball on the right to Jodi Jones, he was in a position to cross with Biamou ready to run in, this was what all the defenders were expecting. Instead he pulled out an incredible effort from a tight angle which flew into the bottom corner, this might just be my favourite goal he's scored for us given it came from almost nothing and was so unexpected, as well as it meaning so much. In a scare straight after the goal Lincoln nearly regained the lead through Matt Green's header, it beat Burge but hit the bar. The keeper was quick to claim the follow up.

With 20 minutes left on the clock we came forward again, The Duck battled well with his marker to hook a ball through to Jodi, breezing past the defenders with eaze, his shot was saved by Vickers but it came immediately back to him, somehow, with the keeper on the floor he struck the bar. When it seemed as if the Imps had had a massive let off and we had wasted a golden opportunity to take the lead, steaming in from Jodi's rebounded effort came Duckens Nazon, who thundered it home from the edge of the area. The super sub had done what needed to be done, playing his part in both goals, albeit the first was just with his presence.

As much as I love Nazon, he's a bit of an idiot, celebrating by taking his shirt off and displaying his name to the home fans, absolutely hilarious, but when it means you'll be suspended for a massive game at Stevenage it's probably for the best to leave it. Still, in the heat of the moment he likely forgot his own mother's name with the joy of scoring the winner in a big match such as this one.

To see out the win we took a more defensive approach for the remainder and it worked very effectively, in the last minute Jordan Shipley had to go off after taking a knock and was replaced by Chris Stokes, giving Ryan Haynes an ever so slight chance as a winger. Nazon had a couple more chances in injury time but he couldn't put the game to bed. However we did see it out tremendously well for a huge 3 points at Sincil Bank.

Full Time - Lincoln City 1-2 Coventry City

I'm not sure if there's any better feeling than coming from behind to win away in such a big game as today. Now, I don't want to read into this too much, but Jodi Jones did kiss the badge as he went to clap the fans. Is this a signal of his commitment to the club and promotion push or will we be left heartbroken on Deadline Day as he makes a switch to Brentford? Only time will tell, for now, we travel to Stevenage on Tuesday night in another massive game, if we win that then we're in great shape to be in the automatic spots by the new year with the run we have. I look forward to it.

My Man of the Match - Ryan Haynes - With special thanks to close to being winners Jodi Jones and everyone's favourite pond bird super sub, Ryan Haynes just pips them to the post as my man of the match today. He tore their right back to shreds today yet still did well with his duties as a defender. I still don't get why we refuse to give him a starting birth as a winger rather than a full back, Chris Stokes is suffering as a result even though he hasn't really done anything wrong. Either way, I'm picking at hairs after a wonderful win away.



Sunday, 12 November 2017

My Twenty-Ninth 17/18 Game - Coventry City vs Mansfield Town

It seems like an age ago that we played our last league game, battering Luton 3-0 on their own soil. Since then we've looked sharp in our cup games, albeit against considerably worse opposition, but you can only win the games that are in front of you so we prepared as well as we could for the fixture against Mansfield. At the beginning of the season the visitors were tipped as favourites to win the league but so far have failed to live up to the hype, sitting in mid table.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Grimmer
Willis
McDonald
Haynes

Vincenti
Kelly
Doyle
Jones

McNulty
Ponticelli

Coventry City Substitutes:

O'Brien
Davies
Stokes
Shipley
Stevenson
Beavon
Biamou

Unchanged from the side that beat Luton two weeks ago we were looking for the exact same, Jordan Ponticelli lined up for his first home league start, I'm pretty sure this is the last "debut" we can give him. Tom Davies perhaps staked a claim to make an appearance after his performance against Maidenhead last week but Jordan Willis returned to his starting spot.

First Half

We made one of the best starts I've seen us make all season, right from the off Ryan Haynes and Jodi Jones were making themselves a menace down the right wing. The pick of the early flurry of chances came from Jordan Ponticelli, his reactions had to be quick for the snapshot which he met, Conrad Logan made a wonderful save to deny it. The rebound came back to the youngster but being off balance he could only rocket it over the bar. We really should have put it away in hindsight, it could have set the trend for the game.

Marc McNulty was bossing the defence and nearly netted with his effort from 20 yards, Logan looked to get fingertips to carry it over the bar but a goal kick was given *Insert referee conspiracy theory here*. The Stags then got their first chance of the game when Kane Hemmings curled one round the post from the edge of the box after we failed to close him down. This prompted a small surge of their own where Lee Burge was our saviour on a couple of occasions. Danny Rose had the best of the lot when he struck the post. Still only 20 minutes into the game it was an incredibly lively start.

Just a minute later McNulty was through on goal, he went down looking as if he was pulled down. It would have been very soft had the foul been given, because a red card would have to be brandished. I'm fairly certain the striker saw he wasn't going to get to it so slowed his run a touch to collide with the defender and go to ground. Four minutes later he came close with his effort from just inside the area. Not only was the first half lively but also end to end, at its close Ponticelli had the ball in the net but it was pulled back for offside.

I'd agree that the decision may have been questionable but once the flag went up only Pont and Logan continued playing. There's no guarantee had play continued we'd still have scored. Right at the death Hayden White was shown a yellow card for a tackle on Peter Vincenti, it could easily have been a red, from my position he looked to have gone over the ball close to his knee with studs showing. Still, the right back was just cautioned as the referee blew up for half time.

Half Time - Coventry City 0-0 Mansfield Town

Second Half

We failed to come out for the second half as sharp as we did the first so Mansfield were able to take control pretty much from the off. Fairly early on Jack Grimmer was shown a yellow for hacking down the winger on the attack, very much a tactical foul. However this did mean he couldn't really touch MacDonald who was bursting down the left wing, leading to them nearly scoring. Quite the let off. The atmosphere at this stage went from zero to one hundred ridiculously quickly, out of nowhere people were running over to the segregation, flares were being let off and all sorts. Don't get me wrong it was hilarious, but literally nothing prompted it.

The officials were given a very tough decision to deal with when Danny Rose went down in the box, now I had a perfect, in-line view of it all and I'm not sure. He did appear to be looking for the foul when he threw himself down, so there was little to no contact. Grimmer did put a foot in so I wouldn't have been surprised at all if the penalty was given, instead Rose was booked for diving with us gaining a free kick.



Not long after did we make our first substitutions of the game, Biamou came on for Vincenti whilst in a more forced switch Grimmer went off injured with Tom Davies as replacement. In Biamou's one contribution to the game his looping header was cleared off the line with ten minutes left of the game. That was probably our only real chance to take the lead in the second half, we were barely keeping Mansfield at bay. The defence was nowhere near as solid as useful, turning their backs to long balls instead of heading them away.

We got what we deserved with 6 minutes left on the clock, MacDonald was given endless amounts of room to roam and had a go from about 30 yards. Burge could just get fingertips to the strike, at full stretch he was unable to keep it out. A great goal, but Haynes and McDonald really should have closed him down to prevent the opportunity from arising. McNulty played in Ponticelli a couple of minutes later in our one and only chance to snatch a point but Logan made himself big to keep it out. He took way too long to get the shot away. We just didn't look like equalising all throughout injury time, the referee then blew up for full time.

Full Time - Coventry City 0-1 Mansfield Town

I remember a year ago to the day we were beaten by Scunthorpe United in a close game exactly like today, it knocked our confidence hugely and we didn't win again until February. We cannot under any circumstances let that happen again. It's crucial we bounce back at Lincoln next week with a victory, it's a real six pointer considering how tight the table is. Then again, every game is massive when you're fighting for promotion. Claiming four points from Lincoln and Stevenage is perfectly fine assuming we follow it up with a couple of home wins against the likes of Crawley and Cheltenham.

My Man of the Match - Marc McNulty - Despite not getting a goal today, he was a constant threat to the Mansfield defence, had it been his more experienced head with the chances that Ponticelli had then today may have been a different story. I'm glad he's starting to play better and better as he was one of our big marquee signings of the summer who you need to bag goals.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

My Twenty-Eighth 17/18 Game - Coventry City vs West Bromwich Albion u21s

After defeating Maidenhead on Sunday we turned our attentions to the trophy which we don't really care about, yet we still technically the holders. Given the last minute goals in our first two group games, whether or not we made it through to the knockout stages was out of our hands. We needed to win whilst Shrewsbury also needed to help us out by claiming victory at Walsall. We've actually played quite well in the competition so to find ourselves in this situation is fairly unlucky.

Coventry City Starting XI: 

O'Brien

Di. Kell-Evans
Willis
Hyam
Stokes

Stevenson
Maycock

Vincenti
Beavon
Dev. Kelly-Evans

Thomas

Coventry City Substitutes:

Burge
Ford
Thompson
Leahy
Finn
Bayliss
Biamou

I'm quite proud to say that I called 10 of the starting eleven, the only one I missed was the one I wanted the most. Kwame Thomas found his way into the first team for the first time this season, something which filled me with joy. He's somewhat unfairly been pushed out of the first team since Robins took the reigns back in March. Now, in League Two he's not even fifth choice, a real shame. Other than that it was just everyone who could be classed as a senior player whom didn't play on Sunday. Peter Vincenti was the only one to keep his spot with the bench made up of the u23 squad plus Maxime Biamou and Lee Burge.

First Half

The visitors played their expected youth squad but had £15 million summer signing Oliver Burke in the first team, which is somehow allowed in this farce of a competition. Saying that, had the youth sides not been integrated into it last season we wouldn't have had our day in the sun. Amongst all of the stewarding problems in the stands the visitors were perhaps the better side in a very dull first half.

Callum Morton had the first real chance of the game around 10 minutes in when he was played through on the right side, Liam O'Brien got down well to push it away. Chris Stokes cleared his lines to stop the danger from going any further. Down the other end Kwame got our first chance on the board with a weak turn and shot which trickled well wide of the post. Ben Stevenson also blasted over the bar on a couple of occasions.



The biggest talking point of the half, and that's saying something, came 5 minutes from the end of the half when Stokes received the ball on the left flank, he put an inch perfect ball into Stuart Beavon who prodded home from close range but the left back strayed offside before crossing in. This incredibly exciting took us into the break, which is good, I don't think my heart would be able to take any more of it.

Half Time - Coventry City 0-0 West Bromwich Albion u21s

Second Half

At the break we switched Peter Vincenti for Maxime Biamou to give 'Big V' a rest, and started to take control of a game against a side in reality we should have been dispatching of with relative ease. We broke the deadlock on the hour mark when Ben Stevenson collected the ball 25 yards out, skipped around a defender and finessed home from just outside the area. The best part of it all? This is the worst goal he's scored for us, he doesn't do bad goals.

Almost immediately after the goal went in we were on the attack again, a corner was put in by Stevenson and met by Maxime Biamou who nodded in to score his first goal for the club. This could be the opening of the floodgates as everyone knows, the first goal is the hardest to get, from then on it gets easier and easier. Let's just hope he can kick on with it all in the league.

Liam O'Brien made a few point blank saves to keep our two goal advantage sturdy but couldn't do anything about Burke's run down the right where he was unchallenged and able to simply pass it into the net. Before the game was out Tom Bayliss and Jordan Thompson made their debuts for the club and saw out the win. Unluckily for us, Walsall scored a last minute winner in their game to see us out of the competition, despite winning.

Full Time - Coventry City 2-1 West Bromwich Albion u21s

I suppose what happened is the best case scenario for us when you think about it, yes we're out, but we still won the match, making it 3 from 3 in all competitions. Plus now we don't have it to distract us, just the league and our FA Cup run which is definitely happening. Roll on Mansfield on Saturday, a big game against a fellow promotion favourite, a massive fixture, and now that we're scoring again it's anyone's game.

My Man of the Match - Ben Stevenson - Much like the club, I have gone with Ben Stevenson as my pick for the man of the match, he's unlucky to have dropped out of the first team but didn't grasp his one opportunity at Accrington. Tonight however he hugely stood out with a goal and an assist to his name. Saying that, you can't split up Doyle and Kelly assuming they're fit, it's an instrumental partnership.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

My Twenty-Seventh 17/18 Game - Coventry City vs Maidenhead United

In typical Coventry City fashion we got back on track last time out by battering free-scoring, table topping Luton Town in their own back yard. Now, ideally you'd want to follow this up immediately with another league game but that wasn't the case. Instead we had our FA Cup tie versus Maidenhead United, a fixture which I've seen advertised as "A potential banana skin" multiple times. Our side we put out suggested we would be taking them absolutely seriously however.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Grimmer
Davies
McDonald
Haynes

Jones
Doyle
Shipley
Vincenti

McNulty
Ponticelli

Coventry City Substitutes:

O'Brien
Willis
Stokes
Maycock
Nazon
Biamou
Beavon

Just the two changes strongly displayed that we want a cup run, and we were boosted by the fact that Wolves have allowed us to play Nazon. This could foreshadow they may be willing to let him stay beyond January. Tom Davies has been unlucky to only make two appearances to date but has looked adequate in them both, equally Jordan Shipley is deserving of a start. Just the free kick last week alone gives him starting rights.

First Half

Train delays and angry stewards not letting people sit in empty seats prevented me from seeing the first few minutes but I can't imagine anything of note occurred. About ten minutes we chased down the Pentney clearance leaving McNulty with a great chance to take the lead. He rounded the final defender, leaving him with an almost open net. However the shot was blocked on the line by Goodman in a last ditch effort to stop his team conceding. The striker did all the hard work and really should have done better with the strike.

McNulty was in the mix again with his effort from 20 yards striking the bar and going over, I feel bad for him, he gets really close but can't seem to find the back of the net as much as we'd like. You can't help but think that it's only a matter of time before he really excels. Jack Grimmer did exceptionally well to nutmeg his opposite number down the right wing and carry on toward the byline, he played a cut back to the penalty spot where Jordan Ponticelli was waiting and found the corner of the net. 1-0 after just half an hour.

Close to half time Jodi picked the ball up on the edge of the City box and sprinted almost the full length of the field, he was outmuscled by Goodman but showed good resilience to continue chasing. Goodman slipped leaving the winger to retrieve the ball and play it back into Ponticelli, very similarly to his first, he slotted in at the far post. On his first home start the 19 year old grabbed a brace before half time, lets ignore the opposition and say we have something special on our hands.



In injury time, we were all witness to a massively embarrassing moment, Massey put in an Oscar winning performance by hitting the ground after a small nudge from Vincenti. You see players going down easily, it's a part of the game, this incident on the other hand was pathetic and he embarrassed himself. Pete gave him a bit of a shoulder to his very own shoulder, nothing hard. The referee didn't buy into it all I don't think, or he did and Doyler worked his magic to lower the punishment, either way, the midfielder received just a booking.

Half Time - Coventry City 2-0 Maidenhead United

Second Half

At the break Vincenti was taken off and replaced by Maxime Biamou, who appeared as if he was playing out on the right, reminding me of Marc-Antoine Fortune's right wing target man role. I don't want to sound harsh, but simply, the visitors weren't very good, meaning for the second half we didn't really need to get out of first gear to see out the victory. I'm not saying we were bad, just slightly complacent.

In Maidenhead's only real chance of the match, Adrian Clifton got in behind our defence with the angle to have a go on goal, he spooned it straight over the bar from about 6 yards. That was as good as they were going to get. With 20 minutes left on the clock we made our final two substitutions with Nazon and Maycock replacing Ponticelli and Shipley respectively. They were adequate enough to see out the victory.

Defensively we were as stable as ever, meanwhile on the attack it was like everyone wanted to be the one who got on the scoresheet next, especially Jodi Jones. In the dying moments McNulty thought he finally had his goal in a game where he deserved one but he has strayed offside to meet Biamou's ball, a pity, but it didn't matter in the end. The match finished with the scoreline as 2-0.

Full Time - Coventry City 2-0 Maidenhead United

We did what needed to be done today, took our chances early on which set us up for the remainder, we didn't really look like conceding at any stage. All in all it was a very routine victory and one that has put into the hat for the next round, I'm not buying into the "We should concentrate on the league" thing, I want a cup run, a nice non-league away game for the experience next up would be nice, I look forward to it.

My Man of the Match - Jack Grimmer - I keep giving him awards, more so than Jodi Jones, but he was great today. Did brilliantly when called upon with his defensive duties, and even chipped in on the attack, picking up an assist. Ponticelli put away a couple of chances yes, but aside from that he didn't do too much, he's got a lot to learn yet, on this occasion I sided with Grimmer.