The annual Boxing Day fixture is one which a large majority of people look for on the football calendar, and I'm not sure if we got lucky or unlucky with the card we were dealt. Port Vale away is only up the road, and it's good we didn't have to travel too far during the festive period. Plus it gave us a chance to take a big following to try and get our third win in as many games. Equally however, we're sick of going there by this point. It's not the nicest ground and it's certainly not the nicest of areas, but I suppose we had to play the fixture at one point or another.
Coventry City Starting XI:
Coventry City Substitutes:
The injury to Peter Vincenti meant an odd switch up to the side, in came central defender Tom Davies who came into the back four with Willis being pushed to the right side. Jack Grimmer came into the midfield as Vincenti's replacement. It slightly annoys me that we're all for putting him in as a midfielder but when it comes to Ryan Haynes we won't give it a second thought, it's criminal he can't even get a game. With all due respect Jordan Shipley had hardly been setting the league alight in recent matches.
Crikey I'm going to struggle with this one. The Wycombe game was full of action, this on the other hand had 3 collective shots on target through the whole match, only one of which went to us, a weak 84th minute effort. If there's one thing you can say about our performance as a whole, it's that our distribution from the wide areas was simply awful, Grimmer did all the hard work and made it into the area but spooned the ball over the head of the advancing Jordan Shipley.
McNulty had our best chance of the half when he cut in from that side and had a shot from the edge of the box, it ballooned a couple of yards over the bar. It warranted a small low pitch "ooh" from the away fans, that's how poor the first half was, that was all we could muster up. Vale weren't much better saying that, but they were at least controlling the pace of the game, despite not creating any worthy chances.
Half Time - Port Vale 0-0 Coventry City
After some of the best half time scenes I've seen in a long time we came out for the second half, which was ever so slightly more eventful than the first. Our main talking point came when Marc McNulty latched onto a flicked through ball and had a clear shot on goal from 18 yards, a defender had his arms wrapped round him and pulled him to the ground. I'm not saying it was a dead cert spot kick as I've only seen it once, but he's in great scoring form and had a great chance to get his seventh in seven games, he had no reason to go down. It's for that reason I'd say it was a penalty kick. Instead however it was waved away. Michael Doyle was booked for arguing the case.
A ball was played out to Shipley on the left and his effort aimed at either Biamou or McNulty was overhit slightly, Grimmer came in at the back stick and could only hit the post with his strike. He can be forgiven as it was a very tight angle, he did well to even get to the ball and get a shot away. For some reason a corner was given when it was clear Boot got nowhere near to the ball, however we wasted the opportunity.
Max Biamou had a poor game and was substituted off with 20 minutes to go for Duckens Nazon, we needed that spark from somewhere but although he wasn't doing his usual basics of winning headers, the attack wasn't the problem. However as we've seen many times, The Duck has the ability to change games in an instant. Unfortunately nothing new was brought to the table, likely because it was too late in the day. The swap should have been made at half time, Robins should have seen how bad we were playing.
With 10 minutes left the deadlock was broken by the home side, Nathan Smith was allowed a free header after a cross from Harness, he flicked it on and it looped the keeper into the far corner of the net. Ponticelli and Beavon were brought on but by this point it was too late. Chris Stokes had a half chance where he really should have at least got the ball on target. That was as close as we got before the referee blew his whistle, it was a poor performance and we got what we deserved.
Full Time - Port Vale 1-0 Coventry City
It was a dull game where Vale had an ever so slight advantage, had we won we would be in the automatic spots. The league is so tight that whilst we are barely in the play offs in seventh, we are still only 2 points off third. So even though that result was tough to take, it's not the end of the world. Saying that, Carlisle on Saturday is must win, we now absolutely need 6 points from the next two games. Especially as other teams gain a game on us when we face Stoke City in the cup.
My Man of the Match - Tom Bayliss - We lacked creativity granted, but Bayliss turned well and could spread the play brilliantly, but Stokes and Shipley aren't attacking minded enough to run into the space so pass back. This is why Ryan Haynes is needed in the equation, he eats up those areas perfectly. Back to Bayliss, he is really turning into some player, even at the age of just 18.