Sunday, 28 January 2018

My Forty-Fourth 17/18 Game - Milton Keynes Dons vs Coventry City

When the draw came out we were initially a bit disappointed, there were a lot of bigger team that we could have got, and we were drawn away at a ground we've visited loads over the past few years. Then after about 5 minutes of sulking we all realised, hang on a minute, this is actually a class tie, we could take thousands upon thousands and you never know, we could pull something off there. It's not like they're really good, and if we even played half as well as we did against Stoke then it would be in the bag.

We all travelled down as early as our body clocks would let us and began a tour of MK Dons pubs, first a Wetherspoons which was home fans only yet all that was coming out was a belting Twist and Shout. Eventually we were led to The Swan Hotel about a mile from the ground and my god the scenes were good, it was all chants, and even a fire extinguisher was let off for some amazingly funny yet odd reason. Eventually we did have to drag ourselves out, partly because we had to go to the game, but mainly because if there was a fire we were screwed. On the rainy walk there we were greeted by the team.

Coventry City Starting XI: 

Burge

Grimmer
Willis
McDonald
Stokes

Kelly
Doyle

Bayliss
Barrett

McNulty
Biamou

Coventry City Substitutes:

O'Brien
Hyam
Di. Kelly-Evans
Stevenson
Shipley
Vincenti
Ponticelli

Liam Kelly came out of hiding to make a return to the side in a formation change, from what I could gather it was a very narrow 4-2-2-2. Jordan Shipley made way for him, whilst Rod McDonald came back into the frame for the presumably injured Tom Davies. The same was the case for Jordan Maguire-Drew, who made way for Josh Barrett to make his first start in a City shirt. To me this seemed like an absolutely brilliant side, a solid keeper and back four, our ideal midfield pairing plus two energetic attacking midfielders. To top it all off we had two strikers who are not only brimming with confidence, but work together amazingly. This is all the more relevant after Biamou got his first "proper" goal last week.

First Half

Call me a killjoy all you like, but in that first half we were pretty poor, we were playing so narrow that the MK wingers had seas of room to attack at. Stokes in particular was getting caught out a fair amount by various through balls and such, you could also see that Liam Kelly was quite rusty given the 6 weeks or so he's spent on the sidelines. This meant that we needed to rely on Doyler to keep a calm head and be the heart of our side, playing the simple balls. 5 minutes in he goes through the back of Nesbitt when he's close to through on goal and gets booked for it. Love that, proper Hard Brexit Michael Doyle tackle that everyone knows and loves.

It looked like we were under the cosh a bit, and to be fair, we were, but Willis and McDonald were blocking literally anything that was going at goal. Things got quite scary but they always seemed to hook the crosses away, on the one occasion they couldn't see it away Burge was quickly off his line to beat Tavernier to the ball and smother it. However really though he didn't need to do much for the first half at least. Whilst the hosts were undoubtedly the better team this side of the break that's not to say we didn't have our fair share of chances.

There were only a couple of attempts for us worthy of mentioning but they were better than anything Milton Keynes could produce. McNulty had the ball on the right hand side and fed it into Doyle, it was a bit behind him, and if you weren't there, I swear to god this happened however mental it'll seem. He rouletted the ball into the path of Maxime Biamou, who forced a good save at the far post by Nicholls. I doubt he meant it, in fact come to think of it he stumbled on the ball a bit, it just happened to work out perfectly.

McNulty also had a shot of his own from the edge of the area which I was directly in line with, it was heading right for the bottom corner, you're already halfway through celebrating before you realise that they pay a keeper for a reason. He fairly comfortably pushed it away from danger. This and the earlier mentioned Lee Burge work signalled the end of the half, quite a dull one but if we didn't step up our ideas soon we'd be on the receiving end of a hiding when the floodgates did eventually open.

Half Time - Milton Keynes Dons 0-0 Coventry City

Second Half

Even for the first 10 or 15 minutes we weren't much better, however both sides had their best chance of the match during this spell. Firstly Concrete Rod hoofed a long ball in the direction of McNulty who picked it up on the left wing and continued into the box, shooting narrowly wide of the mark. Then MK missed an open goal basically, Williams' pinpoint cross was poorly met by Agard, any serious touch and he's scored but it hits the back of his leg and we thankfully clear. The game was certainly livening up.

Tom Bayliss did well in the middle of the park to feed Sparky in down the right, he held onto it well and waited patiently for Maxime Biamou to advance into a goalscoring position. It wasn't too good a ball, the defender made a has of the clearance by kicking it into his own leg, giving Biamou a split second of a chance. He literally forced it through the keeper's legs and a whole second of suspense ensued. It was trickling, and somehow, we managed to score from such a weird opportunity. The carnage when everyone knew however was absolutely ridiculous, within seconds there were flares everywhere, drinks hurled down the stand and about 100 people on the pitch. What a moment, and of course it was Biamou.


Suddenly we all of a sudden realised that we were 1-0 up in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup and we started playing like it, in a similar situation to the first goal, Liam Kelly was laid out on the floor with the ball at his feet. He had no time to adjust so just shanked it ever so slightly wide, looking back this was probably for the best as I was down the front at this stage and I don't think I'd have been able to contain myself and maybe it would have been me that those old Cov fans were handing over to stewards. For celebrating a goal.

Not long after the fairly obviously tired Kelly went off for Stevenson, to accompany the previous switch of Shipley on for Barrett. Then finally to add some for defensive depth Dion Kelly-Evans came on for Tom Bayliss. The time was ticking down and we didn't look like crumbling, they had another half chance from a rebound but it was spooned almost into the stands. Prior to the horrible six minutes added on, Stevenson could have settled everyone's nerves by netting when latching onto McNulty's ball. It wasn't to be though, and we had to endure yet another long heart in mouth period of injury time. Much like the rest of the season, we did it, we held on.

Full Time - Milton Keynes Dons 0-1 Coventry City

It's becoming a joke now, we're in the Fifth Round of the FA Cup. We're the only League Two side guaranteed to be in it given Notts County and Newport County have to go to Premier League sides in replays, Wembley for the latter. There's a huge chance we'll be the lowest ranked team left of the 16 when the games come round. All that's left to see now is who we will be facing? It's either going to be Leicester at home or Wigan away. Nothing else, the two extremes. Until then, this is the memory you're all being left with. For another 3 weeks at least, we're still in with a chance.

My Man of the Match - Jordan Willis - If it weren't for Willis and McDonald then no way would we have won that match, they played with their heart on their sleeve, they were never going to let anything get passed them. I don't know why I decided on Willis over Rod? Maybe because he flung his face in front of more balls. Great player, I'm sure he'll be linked with a move away every single transfer window but will always end up staying somehow.





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