Saturday, 31 March 2018

My Fifty-Sixth 17/18 Game - Newport County vs Coventry City

Easter Weekend is finally upon us, with games now coming in thick and fast ahead of the end of the season we've got barely any time to stare agonisingly at the table wondering how and where we're going to finish. Last time out we handed it to Grimsby in a very routine performance, which we really need to do, we've got a few of those sorts of games left this season so to dispatch of them all with ease would be perfect. Newport away however isn't really one of those games, so when I saw the weather forecast, I'd have taken a point and ran, ran so very far.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Grimmer
Hyam
McDonald
Haynes

Vincenti
Bayliss
Doyle
Shipley

McNulty
Clarke-Harris

Coventry City Substitutes:

O'Brien
Stokes
Davies
Barrett
Reid
Biamou
Ponticelli

Completely unchanged, and why shouldn't we be? Everyone was brilliant last week, as Gary McSheffrey put it, it was like a training session. Tom Davies got back onto the bench for the first time since breaking his collarbone at Forest Green nearly 2 months ago, but considering how well Hyam and McDonald have been doing there's no need to break them up. The return of King Carl Baker drags on for another game as according to his Twitter he got man flu in the week. I'll honestly be devastated if we never see him in a City shirt again, maybe Monday is the one.

First Half

Possibly being the wettest any man has ever been in Newport's open roofed terrace, we started easily the better of the two sides and it took just 7 minutes for us to have a real chance. In a switch up of roles, Clarke-Harris crossed into Shipley who only managed to hit the side netting from close range. It was a tight angle and all that but he really should have hit the target at the very least. Positive early signs however. It honestly seemed like we must have had about 30 corners in that first half, Shippers was floating every single one in but unfortunately the hosts are good at set pieces defensively as well as maintaining the most goals scored from them in the League this season.

It became clear quite early on that this wasn't the best game of Marc McNulty's career, he blasted one very good chance over the bar and then later on when one on one with the keeper he skied a chip from about 12 yards. As we all know by now, if we start well and score early on, then we're more than often fine, but if we start well and don't score, we struggle to maintain it and just start to deteriorate as the match goes on. Even though we were all over them, this was the case today.

Dan Butler put a weak cross in from the left side, and Rod McDonald wasn't tight to his marker, leaving Amond the ability to flick on which gave Mickey Demetriou all the time and space in the world to tap in past Burge at the back stick. It's happened time and time again, we had so many opportunities to stop them going ahead, mainly through McNulty, and we didn't. It's unfair to criticise him though given how much he's stepped up since Jodi's injury back in November.

One thing that gave me a small glimmer of hope going into the break was that we came roaring straight back at them after the goal, and Haynes very nearly curled one into the top corner on his weaker foot. Had we got the swift reply it would have been happy days, instead it was an ever so slightly miserable, drenched 15 minutes for us all as Newport headed in with, it's fair to say an undeserved lead. But what can you do, if we don't put our chances away and they do then you can't really call it that.

Half Time - Newport County 1-0 Coventry City

Second Half

In what I can think is only an attempt to grossly annoy us, Frank Nouble plodded on the pitch for The Exiles. Whilst this time we had the poorer start of the two sides, we were so close to equalising just 5 minutes in. On a break, Clarke-Harris shot across goal and Demetriou skewed the clearance out, the ball could have gone literally anywhere, but instead it managed to go straight into the arms of Joe Day. Luck at its pure finest. Actually, that's probably a bit hypocritical as about a minute earlier Matty Dolan grazed the post from about 25 yards.

Just after the hour mark past, I think we got the call to action and the wake up call we so desperately needed, because god knows how we didn't concede in this minute long period. First of all, Burge made one of the best saves I've ever seen from point blank range to flick a header over the bar. It's probably beaten only by Reice Charles-Cook's save from that free kick at Port Vale a couple of years ago. From the resulting corner they got yet another free header in the box, and out of nowhere Dominic Hyam flung himself at it to scoop it over the bar. Still shellshocked, they put it in the box from a corner once more, this time the header was right at Burge and he was able to pull it to his chest.


God knows how it was still 1-0, but I think Robins knew at this stage something needed to be done. Kyel Reid was on for Shipley, and a couple of minutes later because he was badly limping, McNulty was off for Ponticelli. Let's just hope he's alright and this was just a minor blip because god help us for the run in if not. Then finally with about 15 minutes left Vincenti made way for Maxime Biamou who went out to play on the right with JCH and Ponticelli up top. The three of them could probably just about scrape 10 goals in all competitions this season.

We won the ball back in a good position when Reid picked it up about 35 yards out, he drove with it and as he reached the box he dinked it across to the far side in a Wembley-esque motion. It looked as if he'd missed everyone, but it was in fact much better than that, as like an lion hunting for pray, Maxime Biamou came steaming in towards the back stick and first time on the volley found the small gap between the keeper and the post. 1-1. Limbs everywhere. The French Pele stepped up when we needed him most.

We could, and probably should have snatched all 3 points in the last 10 minutes as it was all Cov. In fact I'm pretty sure there'd have been deaths in the away end had Rod McDonald's last minute header not been cleared off the line. There definitely should have been more than 4 minutes added on given the amount of time that was wasted and stoppages for injuries, but the referee ended up blew for full time letting the game finish 1-1.

Full Time - Newport County 1-1 Coventry City

It's disappointing we couldn't go away with 3 points, but we dug very deep to get that point when we were far from our best in spells of the game. We're still in sixth, results went relatively in our favour, and that's now 7 games unbeaten. This is certainly a point gained as opposed to two dropped. However it does mean we have to absolutely beat Yeovil on Monday to cement a play off spot and keep the automatic dream alive. 7 to go... Also, on a more personal note, this is the 200th post I've done on here, so thanks everyone for actually reading them so I have the motivation to carry on.

My Man of the Match - Lee Burge - If he doesn't make that ridiculous save we lose that game, it's as simple as that. I've said this so many times before, and I'll say it again, he's as good a keeper as we could get and in my opinion is the best since Westwood. However even now he'll skew a kick now and again and is crucified for it. Honestly, could we actually do better? He's one of the players of the season. I'll forever back him.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

My Fifty-Fifth 17/18 Game - Coventry City vs Grimsby Town

In horrible conditions, we got a great result at Crewe last week, and it could and probably should have easily been more. As the various tweets from the players said, we've got 9 more cup finals to go, with Grimsby at home being the next stop. After realising Russell Slade shouldn't be anywhere near professional football a bit too late they've found themselves in deep trouble having not won in 17. prior to the match. They were on the worst run of anyone in England, everything was pointing towards us winning, so naturally I was a nervous wreck worrying.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Grimmer
McDonald
Hyam
Haynes

Vincenti
Bayliss
Doyle
Shipley

McNulty
Clarke-Harris

Coventry City Substitutes:

O'Brien
Stokes
Kelly
Barrett
Reid
Biamou
Ponticelli

Part of me feels a tad sorry for Liam O'Brien, he played great last time out in a rare chance but I think Robins made a good decision bringing Burge back in, he's the more reliable option when it comes down to it. Thankfully Bayliss passed a late fitness test and was able to start as he's a real game change, saying that if Kelly shows the same attacking prowess as he did at Crewe then we need not worry about him and Doyler being too similar. As for our lord and saviour Carl Baker, despite finally getting international clearance, he's tweaked his calf so we'll have to wait another game or two for the return. This news was crushing to the child in me who really wanted to see him, Doyle and Gary McSheffrey play on the same pitch for a final time. Probably the only three players you could get anywhere near using the 'legend' tag with since dropping out of the Premier League.

First Half

To get this out of the way before actually getting into the football so it doesn't become tangled in the chances of an eventful 90 minutes, the booing of McSheffrey, not having that at all. It was a small minority, made of mostly of people in Singers Corner, and obviously everyone is entitled to their own opinion and all that, but why? He's a childhood hero of many City fans, including me, so it hurt a bit to hear some people slag him off for no logical reason. It's understandable people don't want to applaud an opposition but why does that mean you should abuse him. Personally I clapped him and properly wanted to belt out "HE COMES FROM COVENTRY, HE'S BETTER THAN HENRY, MCSHEFFREY WOOOAHHHH", but thought better of it with the likelihood of being lynched quite high.

Onto the actual reason we were there, and I had it in my head if we didn't score in the first 20 minutes or so then it'd be another game like Barnet where we'd struggle to string 3 passes together and would end up being lucky to scrap a 1-0er. Now I wouldn't go as far as saying we were playing badly, but Grimsby just edged the game. If Zak Mills' header hadn't been cleared off the line by their own player then things could have gone a whole lot differently. Luckily though, this was as close as they got in a dry first half an hour.

As we neared the end of the half we lacked a spark of sorts, it was just a bit dull, we couldn't form anything and the referee wasn't really allowing the game to flow, constantly blowing up for fouls. However we ended up using this to our advantage, close to the corner flag, dead ball specialist Shipley floated one right into the mixer with Vincenti meeting it and glancing it past McKeown, giving him his second goal in as many home games. Speaking of which that's the eighth wonder of the world, where on earth has THIS Peter Vincenti come from? His form since coming back into the side has been exceptional, especially for someone who picked up the nickname Bambi for a solid 2 months. Personally I prefer Big V.

Half Time - Coventry City 1-0 Grimsby Town

Second Half

It really took the edge off going in at the break leading instead of needing to come out really pressing, and even though it's very cliche, it really is the best time to score. Even more so when it's against a side so poor and shot of confidence, all of this gave way to possibly the best second half performance of the season. Well, bar maybe Lincoln, but this was more impressive given the lack of Jodi Jones or Duckens Nazon. For the first 10 minutes of the second half, it was all City, but they were just about keeping us at bay. It was only a matter of time, but I'm not quite sure anyone expected it to come via a Michael Doyle 50 yard Pirlo-esque pass.

The skipper won it back just inside our half and beautifully weighted a ball over the top to Clarke-Harris, his first touch with his head left him through on goal. Everything about the type of player he is made me think he'd absolutely smash it at the goal, if it went in it was a bonus, however what he actually did put him up in my estimations even more. With Marc McNulty steaming in he fed him the ball for Sparky to have an easy tap in, making it 2-0. Given the state of the opposition's current form that was basically game over already.

We were passing it about so easily it was borderline bullying of Grimsby, and we were doing it even without Nathan Clarke in the side, quite magnificent really. Ever been on FIFA and the guy you're playing is so bad you just try and get as many shots in as possible? Well for a good chunk of the match we were forced to watch Jordan Shipley and Jonson Clarke-Harris spoon shots over from about 40 yards. Amongst all this Bayliss and Vincenti went off for Kelly and Reid to give the slightly injured/not completely match fit players a rest in a game practically already won.

With 15 minutes left we won a corner, we'd learnt by this point they were diabolical at defending set pieces, so when an unmarked Dominic Hyam got up it wasn't looking good for them. He nodded it back into the six yard box where Sparky, also completely unmarked, was waiting. McKeown got the faintest of touches to take his header onto the bar but he couldn't do anything about the rebound. 3-0, and now it was put beyond doubt, we'd batted away another side in our quest for promotion.

Biamou had the final 10 minutes to do what he does when he replaced Clarke-Harris in our final substitution of the match. He nearly joined the party with not long to go, beating the last man, but scuffing the effort straight at the keeper, kind of like his goal at MK but with some competent goalkeeping this time round. Reid also had his usual shot from 20 yards across goal which is comfortably saved, one day it'll go in Kyel, one day.

We still weren't quite done, Reid once again pranced down the left and floated a cross in towards Biamou but it was headed away 12 yards out. Considering the ball was literally behind him, Marc McNulty did bloody amazingly to volley it and hook it back into the top corner for the pick of his now hat trick. You could tell how much it meant to him to finally get one, and only 4 days ago people were suggesting we start Ponticelli as he's not scored enough from open play lately... Madness really. This nicely rounded off a great day and a wonderful performance.

Full Time - Coventry City 4-0 Grimsby Town


Not sure I liked that, I think we played a bit *too* well, we need to save some playing good-ness for everyone else. In all seriousness, wow, we absolutely needed to beat them and did so in emphatic fashion, if we keep playing like that against the lesser teams then play offs will be a mere formality, but I din't say that. I'm not sure I particularly want to utter the words "automatic spots" as it's tempting fate and there's still a while left yet. One game at a time and all that, originally I would've taken a point at Newport on Friday, but Crewe beat them at home yesterday, so why the hell can't we get another 3 points?

My Man of the Match - Marc McNulty - It's an unwritten rule on here, and indeed in most places, that if you get a hat trick, you have to get man of the match. It's a very elite club, the most recent members are Jodi Jones, Adam Armstrong, Jacob Murphy, and believe it or not Freddie Eastwood. He deserves it, and this takes him to 18 league goals, 21 in all competitions. His third this time round was possibly his best for the club, while the other two were real poachers finishes. Let's just wrap him in cotton wool and bubble wrap for this run in.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Coventry City and the Promotion Curse

A lot of things come to mind when you think, "What's funny and depressing about Coventry City?" Well self-conscious, where on earth do I start. After a lot of elimination ruling out the Sixfields season and SISU, you'd have to settle on a stat mainstream media outlets love to roll out year on year. We've gone the longest out of any of the teams in England without finishing in the top six of any league. 48 years to be exact. Now our nearest challenger is a good 30 years beneath that, and I think you'd struggle to find a similar team around the world to achieve a similar feat.


The 1969/70 season, we'd been in the top flight of English football a mere two seasons ahead of this campaign, and yet we went on to achieve sixth position, above the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal. It seems unthinkable now, but we were actually quite good, and that season even earned us our one and only European Tour in our history. The 1970/71 Inter Cities Fairs Cup saw us leather Bulgarian side PFC Batev Plovdiv 6-1 on aggregate before we bowed out to giants Bayern Munich. A special gold star to those who were at either leg of the 7-3 overall defeat, either the 6-1 loss in Germany, or even the famous 2-1 win in the second leg at Highfield Road.

We spent the remaining 31 seasons of our top tier residence outside of the elite few in the country, throw a cup final win in there to make it all seem meaningful. Then as we all know, the pain really started when we dropped out of the Premier League thanks to Paul Merson and a 3-2 loss at Villa Park in 2001. Ever since then we've tried and failed to get promoted pretty much every time, all we've achieved is another two relegations, and our club is absolutely nothing like it was 20 years ago now we're in League Two.

That's not to say we've not come close, in our first season in the First Division we were fourth with seven games to go having just beaten Norwich 2-1 at Highfield Road. Things were looking promising, we had a big chance of bouncing straight back, and our massive stadium was well underway in terms of production. We lost literally 6 of our last 7, picking up only one point, we ended up eleventh, a whole 9 points off play offs. This marked the tone of a lot of the Championship era.

In Aidy Boothroyd's first season in charge we were playing some great football and found ourselves fifth just before Christmas, but by the time we reached April we had one win in 17 and had just lost in the last minute to bottom of the league. We were 20th, carry on and we might have even gone down the year, but thankfully we managed to halt the slide and finish 18th on 55 points. That was pretty spectacular and all it did was prolong the drop to League One for another year.

The one most fresh in the memory, was the 15/16 season, 21st November 2015, a Jacob Murphy hat trick sends us top of the league. It was honestly the best football I've ever seen us play. (Keep in mind the league and the fact I'm young) Despite glimmers of hope against the likes of Crewe and Bury by absolutely battering them, we threw it away once more, coming eighth. Looking back at that side, had everyone stayed fit we should have walked the league.

"We're right in the middle of a promotion push, what the hell are you throwing this negativity on us for?" I hear you cry. Well, for that exact reason. As we actually find ourselves within touching distance of breaking the record as old as time, we need to ask ourselves the question of whether we can break the curse. We're in the top seven, carry on this form and we could even make automatics. Just take it one game at a time, we've got a favourable run, who knows, we might just do it...

Sunday, 18 March 2018

My Fifty-Fourth 17/18 Game - Crewe Alexandra vs Coventry City

After a few days of mourning I managed to get over bottling a 2-0 lead against Luton with an 89th minute equaliser, it was dire, but at least it was a hard game over and done with without embarrassment. Now looking ahead we've got a very favourable run, which in theory could boost our promotion push endless amounts, but, and I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, it never really pans out the way we want it to. All of this started with Crewe away...


Coventry City Starting XI:

O'Brien

Grimmer
Hyam
McDonald
Haynes

Vincenti
Bayliss
Doyle
Shipley

McNulty
Clarke-Harris

Coventry City Substitutes:

Bilson
Stokes
Kelly
Barrett
Reid
Biamou
Ponticelli

Unchanged from the side that dominated Luton for a whole 45 minutes bar one, Liam O'Brien came in for an ill Lee Burge, youngster Tom Bilson came onto the bench with Corey Addai out on loan at Dulwich Hamlet. Vincenti had a good game on Tuesday night and given this being the last game in which Carl Baker isn't internationally cleared to play in it's the obvious decision to keep him in the starting eleven.

First Half

Jamie Sterry was receiving a few boos as he ran up and down the right wing and I've got absolutely no idea why, we had some bad players last season, but I think the only one who was close to alright was Sterry. Either way, he cut in and very nearly belted one in the bottom corner from about 25 yards, had it gone in if I were him I'd have ran the length of the Cov stand shushing the whole thing. It would have been well and truly deserved.



After a moderately lively start to the game, we got our own chance with just five minutes played, Jonson Clarke-Harris received the ball and basically just ran down the left wing without anyone challenging him. As he made it to about 12 yards out he stabbed across goal towards the far post, it took a minor deflection and met the bottom corner. It was his goal, not a Ray own goal. His, and it's his fourth for the club since returning in my eyes, I don't care what anyone else says.

As we've seen a lot this season, whenever we get an early goal we usually take control, and partially, this was the same. For about 15 minutes or so we were knocking it about quite well, but then we began to slip up a bit, with sloppy passes and defending. In fact we were holding on around the half hour mark when O'Brien reacted quickly to push away Shaun Miller's (another member of the Cov Hall of Fame) header. We weren't as lucky a few minutes later though, after great save by O'Brien Bower was waiting two yards out to simply nut in the rebound.

This was the kick into action we so desperately needed as at this stage we realised we might not actually win the game that easily. So as we neared half time Bayliss went on a mazy run through the Crewe team, playing a one-two with Clarke-Harris in the process, side footing the ball in off the post when he entered the box. 2-1. A great goal, and a great time to score it at as well, if it were Football Manger then David Artell would be saying he had to tear up his half time notes. But this is real life, and we went into the break narrowly leading.

Half Time - Crewe Alexandra 1-2 Coventry City

Second Half

Still carrying a bit of a knock we were forced to bring off Bayliss for Liam Kelly, which seems extremely negative, and was a key part in us throwing the game away on Tuesday, but credit to Kelly, he played admirably this time around. He was a lot more attacking than usual and wasn't afraid to venture into the hosts' half. He was displaying the traits of the so-called "goal scoring midfielder" we were promised when we signed him in the summer.


I wouldn't go as far as saying that the second half was a walk in the park, but it was certainly obvious to see who was the better team, Doyler was even having a go and did his usual spoon one over the bar from about 30 yards. It was however Kelly who had arguably our best chance other than the goals, he was sent through on the left after we won it back, but his finessed effort went just the wrong side of the post.

Sparky had a volley opportunity teed up perfectly for him but he hit it straight at the keeper, making the run since scoring from open play even longer. That's not to criticise him, he's got 18 goals this season he's already ahead of most in the past few years. As we reached the latter stages Reid made his standard appearance and the third and final Crewventry City player came on when Chris Dagnall plodded on the pitch. Not to forget Jordan Ponticelli getting his standard 3 minutes on the pitch to do absolutely nothing with. This was the most Coventry City win I've ever seen, but who cares?

Full Time - Crewe Alexandra 1-2 Coventry City

Routine, good performance, could have been 4 or 5. That's what we all like to see, the 10 game season is now a 9 game season, and we're well and truly in the mix. There are no excuses for any less than 7 points from the next 3 games, big expectations are needed for such a big task at hand. You never know, we might even be able to blag an automatic spot with the gap now down to just 5 points. See you for Grimsby next week and yet another cup final.

My Man of the Match - Jonson Clarke-Harris - It was extremely hard to pick a Man of the Match today, and this time for a good reason, a solid 6 players could have easily won it. Bayliss and Kelly were both outstanding but only played a half each, Michael Doyle was Michael Doyle, the defence was as formidable as ever. Even Liam O'Brien stepped up to the plate fantastically for a rare outing. I've gone with JCH because he was his same usual cage fighter-like self, and bagged another goal in the process. You've got to feel for Biamou with him playing so well. Welcome back.



Wednesday, 14 March 2018

My Fifty-Third 17/18 Game - Coventry City vs Luton Town

Saturday was diabolical, we were as poor as I've seen us all season but somehow we still blagged the points and ran away from bottom of the league barely outside of the play offs. Now though it was going to be a whole truckload harder, it was our long-awaited game in hand against top of the league. A win would have thrown us right into the play offs and firmly in the automatic race, a draw would have been a good result pre-match, I'll say that again not that it's very relevant given how I currently feel, a draw would have been a good result pre-match. A loss and we've completely missed our opportunity to jump back into the play offs as we near the death of the season. Big game and all that.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Grimmer
Hyam
McDonald
Haynes

Vincenti
Bayliss
Doyle
Shipley

McNulty
Clarke-Harris

Coventry City Substitutes:

O'Brien
Stokes
Kelly
Reid
Barrett
Biamou
Ponticelli

I was happy we'd finally dropped Kelly with Bayliss going back into the middle where he is best, and Vincenti coming back into the side on the right. No disrespect to Kelly but he's been poor since coming back from injury, and Big V offers something different. Jordan Shipley also came back in, in place of Kyel Reid who after having a poor run out last time has been immediately thrown out of the mix. I'm not sure if Mark Robins is in the mood for giving him second chances given how he's treated us recently.

First Half

Games with us are very simple, if we want to do well, we need to get off to a good start, and by god did we. Ryan Haynes found himself in a very tight spot on the left wing so pulled off a earth-shattering Soccer AM worthy roulette to get past two defenders and leave him roaming free, he carried on and passed it into JCH on the edge of the area. It fed through to Bayliss after his attempted shot was completely scuffed, that shot was saved but only as far as the one and only Peter Vincenti, who side footed home from about 3 yards.

I always knew it was going to be a tough game, so I was in absolute shock we'd bagged so early on against the high flyers. It gave us the perfect boost and a huge kick up the backside to put the doubts from Saturday away, and we controlled the half from here. We weren't able to recreate any clear cut chances like with Pete's goal, but The Hatters weren't getting a look in, which is good because with the ball they're absolutely deadly. Shippers was looking lively, trying to shoot whenever he was given the opportunity to do so, the best of which forced a good diving save out of Stech.

We looked to be taking a routine 1-0 lead into half time, on the verge of the break we got a free kick. Shipley was getting flashbacks from the away leg, he stepped up and for some reason ran over the ball, leaving Marc Mc-bloody-Nulty to ping it in the far bottom corner. Stech literally had no idea what was happening and before he knew it it was past him and we were 2-0 up. We'd fooled them twice from free kicks this season, with Jordan Shipley in hysterics laughing as we cruised into half time with a comfortable lead.


Half Time - Coventry City 2-0 Luton Town

Second Half

Now here's where it gets tough to even talk about, the part that makes me want to cry, if you want to click off now, at possibly the peak of our season then I wouldn't blame you. Just imagine we went on to steal third place and we're gearing up for League One again in August. Whilst it was a poor start to the second half, we had the first chance of note, when Clarke-Harris had a go from about 25 yards and it didn't curl enough to make the top corner but instead it went inches past the post.

Things went downhill as soon as Luton were awarded a soft free kick towards the byline on the left wing, the ball was floated in and Lee Burge came for it and crucially, missed it. Scott Cuthbert was left with a simple header into an empty net with no defenders coming to the keepers rescue. 2-1. We were all practically tearing our hair out when we realised there was literally still 35 minutes left to play and our opponents had scored the most goals in England. Plus, above all else, we're Coventry City Football Club.

It was horrifying to watch, time was ticking down slower than I've ever seen it. With about 20 minutes to go Doyler gave the ball away in a dangerous position but was let off when the resulting effort from Elliott Lee sailed over the bar. For some reason we decided to meet this with the "Ohh way ohhh" chant saying he never gives the ball away, which was almost as ridiculously inaccurate as what was to come. It was starting to become unbearable to watch.

As the clock ticked towards the final ten minutes we'd made two of our substitutions, and iffy ones at that, Shipley and Bayliss were off, Reid and Kelly were on. Neither had a good impact and we were stuck on the back foot yet again, then the visitors got another free kick. It was sent in, James Collins was completely unmarked and got the faintest of touches and it's in the back of the net. Luton fans are already jumping up and down pulling the segregation blanket a little harder than usual ready to give it large to the opposite group of our fans doing the exact same. Let me tell you, it was absolutely hilarious to see them waddle back over when they eventually realised the linesman had flagged and the goal had been disallowed. My heartbeat on the other hand was all over the place.

In an ideal world that would have been the last scare and we would have defended so admirably and held out for the biggest 3 points of the season. Unfortunately, this isn't what happened. They got the ball on the wing again, with it flying into the area, Cov fans James Collins beat everyone in the air and nutted it into the top corner. No offside flag saved us this time, 2 points had been stolen from us at the death. That's not to say we were robbed, we were poor in the second half, we didn't even come out, Luton deserved what they got.

Full Time - Coventry City 2-2 Luton Town

Positive people are saying that they'd have taken a point at the start of the game, which is true, so would I, but stuff like that just isn't acceptable. To be 2-0 up and looking so comfortable, to then throw it away and draw is nothing short of disgraceful. There's a lot of difference drawing a normal game 1-1 than chucking away a two goal lead and drawing 2-2 let me tell you. There's 10 games left in this season, if we want to consolidate this extremely fragile play off spot then that shambles can't happen again. Crewe and Grimsby are now must wins, under no circumstances should we be dropping points.

My Man of the Match - Ryan Haynes - Put his body on the line, basically single handedly set up the first goal with a ridiculous turn. That was his 100th professional appearance and we're lucky to have him, he's going to be a key figure in this run in, just hopefully him and his defensive counterparts see out games like they have done all season. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I'm praying last night was a one off, and we go to Crewe and rip them apart.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

My Fifty-Second 17/18 Game - Coventry City vs Barnet

It's been ten days since Marc McNulty dashed a fairly poor penalty in late on against Wycombe sending us home filled with joy, freezing cold, but joyful nonetheless. Since then we've had the 'Beast From the East' calling off the Lincoln match, and the Coventry City Twitter account making me pretty much hyperventilate with their teaser video for the new signing. That was of course in aid of the long-awaited return of fan favourite and ex-captain Carl Baker. The tinted glasses are firmly on when looking at it but similarly to when we announced Doyler it felt amazing, as if we were getting the band back together.

In terms of the game itself, it's always a dodgy one playing bottom of the league as they've got nothing to lose and complacency could strike. Back in October I was actually quite impressed with The Bees, I thought they'd stay up with ease and maybe even push for top half, obviously though that's not been the case and they find themselves all but relegated six points adrift of safety, if we want to go up we need to be winning games like this no questions asked.

Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Grimmer
Hyam
McDonald
Haynes

Bayliss
Kelly
Doyle
Reid

McNulty
Clarke-Harris

Coventry City Substitutes:

O'Brien
Willis
Stokes
Dev. Kelly-Evans
Barrett
Biamou
Ponticelli

Dominic Hyam kept his spot despite Jordan Willis coming back from suspension, and deservedly so, he was brilliant against Wycombe and instrumental in us keeping a clean sheet. Our lord and saviour Carl Baker didn't get international clearance in time to play so his second debut will have to wait until Tuesday at least. In fact the only change we did make from last time out was Kyel Reid coming back in for his first start in almost a year with Jordan Shipley making way.

First Half

We started poorly, and never really got going throughout the whole game, Barnet were getting the better chances through Coulthirst and then Santos. We were defending really sloppily but they're bottom of the league for a reason, so they were too, Kyel Reid launched one over the op which both defenders missed and fell to McNulty. Once he got it firmly under control they were back goal side of him, so he did well to get the shot away but it was just a shame that he struck straight at Legg. Soon after he tried his luck from the edge of the area which went inches past the post.

As the half wore on we were really struggling to get a foothold of the game, and if the opposition were any better then we'd have almost certainly been losing, and we would have been going into the break if it weren't for Lee Burge. Shaquille Coulthirst (a lower league Football Manager 2015 hero) tried his luck from distance but the keeper got across well to tip it round the post for a corner. Everything about the side was bad, but thankfully we clung on to stay level at the break.

Half Time - Coventry City 0-0 Barnet

Second Half

After the shocking dull affair that was the first half we strolled out for the second period, and we're a second half team, so there was some belief we could pick up and go for the win. A whole eleven seconds in Burge came to our rescue again, Coulthrist's strike forced him to go down to to his left and palm the ball away. Mark Robins saw we were playing shocking so made a sub before the 80th minute, which is practically unheard of by his standards. Josh Barrett replaced Reidy, who had a very Kyel Reid game, dribbling well but providing no end product at all.

We were pushing on a bit more and with 20 minutes left Sparky had a golden opportunity to give us the lead when Liam Kelly put in a peach of a cross, he was about six yards out but headed directly into the ground and it looped over. That looked to be the one, we'd been playing so badly that if we didn't take the one chance we got then there wouldn't be another. That was my general feeling at least, but I'm perhaps exaggerating it for dramatic effect.

Jack Grimmer who looked to be one of our only sources of forward thinking went on another run down the right with no one challenging him, he found McNulty who still had a lot left to do. Now the next part is debatable, Sparky either shot very weakly, which is more likely, or he picked out a Kevin De Bruyne-esque ball. Either way, Jonson Clarke-Harris latched onto it and tapped in at the back post. Now in reality he'd just scored a winner against bottom of the league Barnet, but he celebrated in the most League Two way possible by ripping his shirt off and running straight over to the almost empty stand.



The goal was met with by a pretty huge sigh of relief, everyone was thanking their lucky stars we'd just scrapped a goal against the Football League's basement side. JCH took a knock after the goal, maybe something to do with his fitness, so Biamou came on to see out the game once more. It worked, with a bit of slightly embarrassing time wasting and Ryan Haynes taking six and a half years  to take a throw in we heard the beautiful tones of the final whistle marking an end to a horrible game of football.

Full Time - Coventry City 1-0 Barnet

I've mentioned a few times now how bad the game of football was, but none of that really matters as we got the three points. I'll take points over performance any day, we're now only outside of the play offs on goals scored, with a game in hand, speaking of which, is on Tuesday night against Luton. We couldn't be playing them at a better time either, automatics are still potentially on, but as we've said many times, we just need to take it one game at a time and see where that gets us.

My Man of the Match - Lee Burge - At 0-0 he made one or two brilliant saves which kept us in the game, and in the end won us three points. For every mistake he makes he comes out with three performances like this one. Hopefully people begin to appreciate him more soon, as we could do a lot worse in this league.