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.



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