Sunday, 14 January 2018

My Forty-Second 17/18 Game - Exeter City vs Coventry City

It's as if when the EFL did the fixture list they put all of our long away trips next to each other, and around Christmas. Saying that, I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that I'd happily go to the ends of the country to see more of what we did against Stoke last week. Another lengthy train journey was on the horizon, and this time we didn't have the views of the Lake District to keep us occupied, here it was just a quick changeover at Birmingham and getting shaken awake by the ticket woman somewhere near Bristol.

The side was in great form and was brimming with confidence, which as history has taught us, is when we are at our weakest. That's not me being pessimistic but most sides use that performance as a springboard, we are not one of those sides... Just look at the following games the big matches in the Checkatrade run for reference. A win and our promotion credentials wouldn't be doubted by anyone, a loss and we'd drop like a stone. So no pressure then eh?

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Grimmer
Willis
Davies
Stokes

Maguire-Drew
Doyle
Bayliss
Shipley

McNulty
Biamou

Coventry City Substitutes:

O'Brien
McDonald
Haynes
Stevenson
Barrett
Beavon
Ponticelli

Quite rightly, Lee Burge came back into the side for Liam O'Brien after his one game against Stoke. Whilst we won, he looked incredibly shaky and I'll go a bit more in depth about the situation towards later on and maybe in a separate post during the week. Other than that we remained unchanged which I'm quite pleased about, we get to see more of latest signing Jordan Maguire-Drew and our other January addition Josh Barrett came onto the bench for the first time since joining from Reading. Rod McDonald returned from injury but only made the bench, I was quite pleased with this decision by Robins as Tom Davies had been in great form and deserved to keep his spot.

First Half

The first five minutes weren't horrendous, I mean nothing really happened, but it's not like we were gift wrapping opportunities left, right and centre. This is why it was all the more surprising when our defence but a bow on one and everything. Jordan Willis really didn't deal with a long ball over the top and Burge was forced to come out and get it. Don't get me wrong he was at fault too, he probably should have left Willis to it, failing that he should have leathered the clearance into touch. Ryan Harley picked the ball up and with Burge scampering back to cover his tracks he executed a finish in off the post. Both the 'keeper and ex-captain were at fault, but it was Burgey who took all the flak from people around me.

We almost equalised a few minutes later with the most League Two chance I've ever seen. I couldn't tell you for the life of me who was involved, and neither could Cov's Twitter apparently. They dealt with it exceptionally well, so I'm just going to lift the exact tweet to get away from the situation. "CHANCE: #SkyBlues almost get the equaliser. A corner into the box produces a goal line scramble, with multiple City players trying to find the back of the net, but Exeter manage to clear. 1-0 #PUSB" It wasn't the best chance of the match but we certainly should have put it away to equalise.

Then The Grecians very nearly punished us for not taking the chance but last weeks hero Jack Grimmer saved our skins by steaming past Jayden Stockley to steal the ball away. McNulty and Biamou both had a couple of chances, the latter really should have buried one of his, much to the anger of the bloke in front who was screaming at the Frenchman throwing expletives everywhere, demanding we sell him and bring in someone like Harry Kane. "A proper English hard Brexit striker",  he was about one miss away from saying.

Half Time - Exeter City 1-0 Coventry City

Second Half

We'd been playing poorly but the hosts were the ones to make the first change of the match just as the second half begun with none other than Danny Seaborne coming on, when really we were the ones who needed to. Biamou won the ball back by battling really well and fed in Marc McNulty, but he couldn't really take it into his stride well, by the time he got the shot away there were 2 defenders blocking his path.


Jordan Ponticelli and Josh Barrett replaced Biamou and Shipley as the half went on but we weren't really creating any chances to put away and now our aerial threat left the field but we were still trying to play long ball football. I'm not slating Ponticelli but he really isn't what we need to replace Biamou, which is why we need him on the field, despite not scoring. Saying that Robins appears to have come to the end of his tether, and is looking to get a new number 9 target man in.

Saying all of this, Ponts wasn't play too badly, as the minutes ticked down and we got towards the final seconds he struck the bar with an effort on the volley with help from a glancing save from Pym. He made his best save of the match in the fifth minute of injury time when Tom Bayliss' ball into the box found Chris Stokes, Pym parried away which was gutting as nicking a point would have massively boosted our confidence and the meltdown wouldn't have ensued on various Facebook forums.

Full Time - Exeter City 1-0 Coventry City

Whilst it was a horrendous day, we're not going to win every game until the end of the season, it's going to be a real test of character whether we bounce back next week against yet another promotion rival in Swindon. We're not only not in the automatic spots but also not in the play off spots but who cares? We're so close still it literally doesn't make a difference, it's going to be a test of bottle from here on in, we need to learn from our mistakes two seasons ago.

My Man of the Match - Tom Davies - In amongst all the defensive hiccups everywhere Davies was a shining light and Rod McDonald will do well to make it back into the team. He's come a long way since joining, and you wouldn't think he was the poor long ball merchant Portsmouth fans desribed when we brought him in on Deadline Day.



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