Wednesday, 25 April 2018

My Sixty-First 17/18 Game - Coventry City vs Lincoln City

Here it is, the big game klaxon was firmly out and used so much that it was almost worn out, our long-awaited, snow delayed game in hand at home to Lincoln City. Even thinking about it was making me incredibly nervous, picking up literally any form of points would basically guarantee our spot in the playoffs. A loss and we’ve got Mansfield, who thankfully for us, are absolutely terrible, breathing asthmatically down our neck. I had two predictions for the game, the first being a horrifically dull 0-0er, the second being a mental goal fest with over 5 goals.

Coventry City Starting XI:




Coventry City Substitutes:


Now I know Robins has gone a bit mental with his team selections recently, but playing the 4-3-3 on Friday night we were awesome, so why oh why did he drop Jordan Ponticelli for Tom Bayliss and switch it back to a 4-4-2. It just doesn’t make sense, if you’re going to drop anyone drop Shipley, then have Doyle, Kelly and Bayliss as a three pronged midfield. It just felt as if we were setting up for the draw from the off, and whilst I’d take a point and run, is incredibly foolish, which we found out in literal seconds.

First Half

Now McNulty’s goal against Stevenage was quick, but this is seriously taking the mick, Lincoln started off with the theme they would adopt for the 90 minutes, hoofing it at our scared stiff back four. We reacted as we also would for the duration of the game, panicking and bottling the clearances, it was half launched away to the edge of the area where Matt Rhead leathered one top corner on the volley. 51 seconds that took, in a game where we just needed to keep things simple and at a low tempo for the first quarter, we conceded after 51 seconds.

The 3,300 travelling Lincoln fans couldn’t believe their luck, I on the other hand was standing there in disbelief that we had managed to Cov it up so spectacularly and quickly. The yoof legion took out their anger on the black cloth where most were unable to make it past a whole 4 stewards to get to the Imps fans they were so intent on meeting and apparently battering. The 40 stone bloke with his top off simply laughed in their face as Burge tearfully launched it back to the halfway line.

Lincoln are a very nippy team, and I don't mean that as if they're quick or anything, more that they'll literally do anything off the ball to stop you from proceeding, but who am I to judge, it works. Burge claimed the ball and went to throw it out quickly so Rhead flung his elbow at the keeper, Michael Doyle responded as Michael Doyle does by throwing him to the ground and Burgey had already pelted it out. Somehow the referee didn't blow for either of these incidents and we were able to counter attack, Clarke-Harris advanced down the left with loads of space and got away from his marker to play to the edge of the box. Steaming in after running about 60 yards Tom Bayliss side footed it into the top corner. 1-1. Incredible scenes.

The yoof legion were rowdier than ever, and the 40 stone bloke with his top off was nowhere to be seen, and I was even more shocked than before. Conceding in the first minute is one thing, to actually bounce back and equalise is unheard of, we'd got a new found confidence and were looking like scoring again every second. Lincoln however were looking weak, I don't even have to make a joke about what's coming anymore because it's that obvious. Ryan Allsop, yep, the one that 3 seasons ago Lee Burge ousted out of the team, hoofed a goal kick and McDonald bottled the headed clearance.

It was flicked on over Willis who I can only assume was swearing profusely at his defensive partner after Ollie Palmer picked it up and effortlessly tapped it past Burge. However before I could even think of anything I'd write about how angry I was Tom Bayliss came prancing down the right and squared one across to Shipley. He turns the defender and spanks it into the bottom corner. 2-2. Incredible scenes yet again.

What's even the point in telling you all how ecstatic we all were? As it went to pieces AGAIN within just minutes, we couldn't hold out for the four minutes until half time. It was the exact same thing, a hoofed ball into the box, a bottled header by Grimmer, Burge came but the striker got there just before him, shoots straight at his chest. Fair enough they got lucky it bounced straight back to Palmer who tapped into an empty net but to even be in that situation is horrific. My two personal "Players of the Season" combining to gift them a third.

I'm beginning to get to the end of my tether with Burge, I've defended him constantly because he's had a good season and deserved it, but the mistakes are becoming more and more frequent now. Robins would have to be completely crazy to drop him though, because O'Brien is certainly no better, that's not to say changes have to be made though, that's getting ahead though, as half time came to us abruptly after a 5 goal thrilling 45 minutes.

Half Time - Coventry City 2-3 Lincoln City

Second Half

I promise the review of this half will be at least a bit calmer, as the anger stopped until full time and just turned into sheer disappointment. Lincoln were happy to sit back here and whilst we had the better of the ball we weren't really doing anything with it at all, the tempo had slowed right down when it desperately needed to pick up, Bayliss shooting over from about 20 yards was the only real thing of note until Biamou came on for Clarke-Harris. He instantly won a header at the back and it would have been 3-3 if it weren't for Allsop. Surely I'm not the only one who remembers him being awful...?

Then came the defining moment of the match, we were growing more and more in confidence and Max was steaming into the area. All you need to know is he hit the ground after contact from a Lincoln defender, whether or not it was a penalty is a whole different matter. I was so far away I couldn't tell you but the referee's view was so clear that he had to make the right call. Someone in the Block 26 "I don't care how much you love City, I'm not standing up" group will be better placed to tell you.

Either way everyone goes up claiming and Jones waves it away, and like a scene from a play, Lincoln broke on us. It's dinked across to the right where Rhead floats one towards the back post. Everyone's screaming for our League Two Goalkeeper of the Year to come out and claim that whilst he's doing the hokey funking kokey on the goal line. Eventually he does but Frecklington is laughing at his as he pokes it under. 4-2, everyone's crying and licking wounds, even the yoof legion haven't got the energy for the arm flailing anymore.

Notes for the rest of the game, umm, Ponticelli missed an open goal from 3 yards out just as 7 minutes of added time were announced but other than that that's about it. The referee blew up on a top 3 contender for most painful defeat of the season, potentially in there with Notts County away, Forest Green at home, Yeovil at home and Morecambe away, because that whole day was an absolute shambles.

Full Time - Coventry City 2-4 Lincoln City

I was as angry as anyone last night let me tell you, but there's 180 minutes of football left in the regular bit of this season and we're still in the play offs. All we can do is go out Saturday all guns blazing, Mansfield are that poor we might not even have to pull much out of the bag. They've got Yeovil away, and as we all know, they're capable of ridiculous things at random points, if we better their result then we're in. The actual play offs though, that's another matter for another day.

My Man of the Match - Michael Doyle - Spread a few passes quite well, but mainly, rugby tackled a man to the floor, hit someone in the face basically, and came away without a booking. Hero of our time. Captain, leader, legend. Give him a life time contract, I don't even care.

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