Wednesday, 28 February 2018

My Fifty-First 17/18 Game - Wycombe Wanderers vs Coventry City

Saturday looked as if it was somewhat of a turning point given how valiantly we battled to steal a point at Mansfield, and even if it wasn't, seeing how much it rattled Steve Evans and ultimately pushed him over the edge to resign from the club and join Peterborough will be one of the season's highlights. I'd like to think we at least played some part in that movement, and that when Mark Robins saw the post-match interview he was laughing endless amounts.

Tonight however was just as big, if not more so given it was the first of our games in hand, and this one we had on all teams, not just a few. Win and we're right back into the play off race, a draw would just about do, a loss and we're on the verge of saying goodbye to any thought of promotion we still may have. To do that we'd have to be on top form, they'd be looking to right the wrongs of their poor performance on Saturday, and after all, they're in the automatic promotion spots for a reason.

Coventry City Starting XI:





Coventry City Substitutes:


With Tom Davies and Jordan Willis out through injury and suspension respectively, Dominic Hyam had to step into a starting spot once again whilst Jordan Thompson made the big step up from the youth squads onto the bench for the first time. He's yet to make his league debut but did come on as a substitute in the Checkatrade Trophy, so he'd be able to come in in an emergency. Other than this we remained unchanged from the side that drew with Mansfield.

First Half

It was never going to be the most spectacular of contests given the weather, so it was no surprise there were little clear cut chances of note, I'm sure everyone was feeling the cold. Well, everyone except Marc McNulty and Michael Doyle, who Robins said doesn't feel pain, which in fairness sounds about right. It would be fair to say we were on the back foot but we were at least containing their main attacking threat in Adebayo Akinfenwa.

I think our lack of creativity was down to our lack of pace on the wings, Bayliss isn't as effective on the right as and Shipley definitely wasn't having a game that reflected his recent run of form. Through the centre of the park was our only real method of creating chances, and Jonson Clarke-Harris was doing his best to achieve this himself by going on 40 yards runs after turning his man on the halfway line. Unfortunately though nothing was coming into fruition.

Not that there was much to deal with, but Lee Burge was dealing with the half chances with ease. I'm trying to sugarcoat this as much as possible, but in reality the half was as dull as I've seen this season. Close to nothing was happening, but I wasn't too disappointed with this considering how free scoring the hosts actually are. Being honest I was thankful when the half time whistle came so I could try to avoid frostbite and constant shivering by gripping a cup of tea.

Half Time - Wycombe Wanderers 0-0 Coventry City

Second Half

Mouth still burning, hands still close to falling off, the teams plodded out for the second half. Not long had passed until we patched up the main problem with the side by bringing Kyel Reid on for Shipley. He didn't take long to take advantage, capitalising on a defensive slip and sliding into McNulty who's shot was looking to be on target before someone got a head to it to carry it out for a corner which resulted in nothing.

On the key side we did start to pick up with our mentality, we were looking for the win now. Still not completely match fit, Clarke-Harris had to leave the field with Biamou replacing him as we looked for that winner. He was now back alongside his partner in McNulty, who we know team up well to get a goal from somewhere. Grimmer did well to keep the ball on the byline and fed in Bayliss who spooned his volley high and wide but in his defence it was a very difficult take.

It was in fact the young midfielder who won the ball back in an extremely good position, and it was this moment my dad chose to ring me. He picked it up and steamed down that right flank, cut in, and just as he was about to pass El-Abd when the defender put a leg across and brought him down. The referee took an awfully long time to blow up for such a stone wall penalty but the result was just that. With seven minutes left on the clock we had the chance to snatch three points out of nothing. That's the official description, what my dad would have heard was "GOOOWAANNNN, GOOOOWAAAAAAN, REFFF, BLOW THE- YEAAAAHHHHHHHHHH"

Everyone is down at the front, phone still pressed to my ear, McNulty stepped up and took the longest run up ever in the history of penalty kicks. You're thinking he's going to leather it straight out of the ground, but the result was quite the opposite, side footing right into the bottom corner. Sparky then steams straight over to the away fans and everyone starts jumping on him. If you watch the highlights closely you'll see a lad with his hands to his ear jumping up and down desperately trying to hug Tom Bayliss.

After he was booked for his celebration, the time wasting ensued. We likely could have got a second but played it safe instead, Reid and Biamou were doing their job running into the corner and just generally seeing out a victory. "The Beast" had one final weak header watched over the bar as he pushed yet another player out of the way. He may be strong, but some of his actions were just downright fouling. All of this is off topic and irrelevant however, as we took maximum points in a huge game.

Full Time - Wycombe Wanderers 0-1 Coventry City

We're back baby! The massive bottle job has ceased (for now), we're officially back in the play off race. Win on Saturday against Lincoln then we could be back in the top 7 and could also open up a bit of breathing room on the rest of the chasing pack. Every game is massive from now on, the games against relegation candidates like Barnet and Crewe need to be givens. We've certainly got the ability, whether we've got the bottle remains to be seen.

My Man of the Match - Dominic Hyam - Considering you could count his starts for the club on one hand and he was up against a man they call The Beast, Dom Hyam was exceptional. Robins has a tricky decision on his hands for who to play on Saturday, it would be unfair to drop either of the pairing, but equally it's harsh to not reintroduce Jordan Willis when his suspension is up. Either way at least we have a good range of defensive options and able replacements for all.

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