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.

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