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:





Coventry City Substitutes:


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.

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