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.





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