Sunday, 21 January 2018

My Forty-Third 17/18 Game - Coventry City vs Swindon Town

All FA Cup jubilation was brought crashing down last week with the loss to Exeter, sending us not only out of the automatic promotion spots, but also the play offs. In fact due to Newport's Friday night victory we went in to our match against Swindon in 9th place. The league is so ridiculously tight that even as we edge near to 30 games in, one loss could leave you in tatters for the following week, which is why it is absolutely crucial we put together a good run to bolster our own personal chances.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Grimmer
Willis
Davies
Stokes

Maguire-Drew
Bayliss
Doyle
Shipley

McNulty
Biamou

Coventry City Substitutes:

O'Brien
Di. Kelly-Evans
McDonald
Stevenson
Barrett
Beavon
Ponticelli

I was a tad surprised to see us stay unchanged from the Exeter defeat, giving how Mark Robins was talking about Biamou, appearing as if he's come to the end of his tether with him. Personally I also thought that Jordan Shipley's place may have been under threat with Josh Barrett scoring a hat trick in the u23s earlier in the week but he signed a two-year deal on Thursday so it's not as if Robins doesn't highly rate him. The other debatable non-change was letting Lee Burge stay in the side, personally I was strongly in favour of this but some idiots other fans said that Liam O'Brien deserved to regain his spot in the team.

First Half

You could see from the off it was going to be a tough game, we weren't really too confident going in and we were facing the side with the best away record in the league, so for the first 15 minutes or so we were near enough outplayed. It was always going to take something big to avoid going a goal down, but I don't think anyone expected it to be that amazing. Biamou got up to win a long ball and nodded on, it was brought straight down and left by Grimmer for the Frenchman to step up and slaughter the half volley into the top corner from 20 yards. That's right, it finally happened, Maxime Biamou did a goal, and what a goal at that. We always knew when it happened it was going to be spectacular, let's just hope he can bag a few from now until May.

Only five minutes later another ball over the top caught the visitors' defence out and left McNulty with a chance on goal, but he was pushed to the ground in the area, we were crying out for a penalty, and the referee had no hesitation to give it. You could already tell that the monkey was off Biamou's back as he was pleading with McNulty to let him take the spot kick, however it was Sparky that won the argument, and he certainly put his money where his mouth was by smashing it the other side of Reice Charles-Cook (whom got a good reception) and suddenly, pretty much out of nowhere, we were 2-0 up.

All of a sudden, we were the side playing the best football, we looked comfortable, but unfortunately that soon turned to complacency as from an attack from nothing with about 5 minutes left in the half Oliver Banks met a cross and stabbed home from close range. We were shellshocked and were just trying to limp into half time with our one goal lead which now looked tiny in the grand scheme of things. If it weren't for a fingertip save from Lee Burge onto the crossbar we'd have completed the bottle job in record time, but that was the only scare as we saw out the half, taking in a pleasant, but fragile 2-1 lead.

Half Time - Coventry City 2-1 Swindon Town 

Second Half

If you remember back to the Wycombe game last month a situation similar to this occurred, we went in at 2-1 and it took us about 5 minutes to throw it away and for them to make it 2-2. Thankfully we showed some initiative and went onto win but you'd rather not have the scare. To avoid this what we needed to do was just play simple football for the first 10 minutes or so, not necessarily time waste and park the bus, but just not do anything rash, and I'm sure Robins had the same thing in mind. We did this in fairness, but as soon as that period was over and we upped the tempo it was like grenades were going off everywhere.

Have a look for yourself for reference but my god I don't know how we didn't concede in and around the hour mark. It was a tale of two free kicks, the first caused a massive goalmouth scramble, they struck the bar, Burge was flinging himself at everything, clearances off the line, no one could tell what was happening. I can't tell if it was incredible lion heart defending or the most League Two 10 seconds I've ever seen. Then for the second half a minute later Luke Norris was left unmarked in the area but Burgey pulled off a wonder save to keep the scores level. We thanked our lucky stars we survived this mad minute and steadied the ship soon after, whilst Swindon subbed on new signing Marc Richards, who apparently rejected us in the week.

With 20 minutes left we made a fairly odd switch, Jordan Maguire-Drew came off, which is fair enough,e he's not fully fit yet, but I can't see why Dion Kelly-Evans came on to play on the wing instead of Josh Barrett. Still who am I to suggest who we should bring on? With 10 minutes left on the clock Chris Stokes won the ball back on the edge of the area with a tackle that found its way to Marc McNulty, striking into the far corner, Reice Charles-Cook didn't even move as he watched the third, and indeed the game, go by.

Those last 10 minutes were like party time, we were dealing with anything that could be thrown at us and we even managed to create our own hilarious yet massively cringy version of the Salah/Mane chant. It's all banter though so we can't take it to heart, when it comes down to it we've just won a must win game and gone back up to sixth, and we're going into our huge FA Cup Fourth Round tie with bags of confidence against a team which has none. On top of that there's a sold out 8,000 fans there. That one was for Cyrille. RIP.


My Man of the Match - Maxime Biamou - This is the hardest MOTM decision I've ever had to make, there was two options I couldn't choose between, and neither of which were the man who scored a brace, which just tells you how good of a performance it was. Lee Burge played an absolute blinder, especially on the back of last week, any other match he would have been more than deserving. However, given how long he's been wanting it, and how good the goal was, I can't not give it to Biamou after finally getting his first Coventry City league goal. Hopefully he uses it as a springboard.


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