Sunday, 29 April 2018

My Sixty-Second 17/18 Game - Cheltenham Town vs Coventry City

The day that promised so much had finally arrived, and I woke up feeling absolutely foul, any questions regarding why were responded to with no comment. All that would have gotten me up today was the last away day of the regulation season at Cheltenham, my 67th of the 92 Football League grounds for those keeping score. A semi short coach journey and a lot of breathing into a plastic bag later and we're in in the centre before 11, a common theme of the season. Four hours of lying on a table and drinking water in a Wetherspoons later and it was time for another segment of what mental selection has Robins thought up today.


Coventry City Starting XI:

Burge

Grimmer
Willis
Davies
Stokes

Bayliss
Kelly
Doyle
Shipley

McNulty
Biamou

Coventry City Substitutes:

O'Brien
Hyam
Haynes
Barrett
Reid
Clarke-Harris
Ponticelli

Scratch all that, he's a tactical genius. As much as I love Haynes, Stokes coming in probably did need to be done after Tuesday night. Same with Davies for Rod, he's been getting away with a lot of poor mistakes recently so to see him dropped for in my opinion, this seasons unsung hero Tom Davies was quite pleasing. Clarke-Harris played quite well for about an hour on Tuesday night but overall has been quite poor recently so Maxime The Dream returning was a good shout.

First Half

I mean I know we like to get an early goal to settle our nerves, but the way we lined up was downright astonishing. The only players not on the halfway line ready to attempt the 100m dash to reach the launched ball were Michael Doyle and Chris Stokes, all of them steamed off as soon as the whistle was blown and in natural fashion Doyler pinged it straight out for a corner. Still, start as we mean to go on, even if we did revert to the 4-4-2 instead of the 1-2-7 immediately after the ball was lobbed back in.

Cheltenham as a team are poor, they score a lot but concede more, so I'm assuming Robins' tactics were as simple as "Yeah, you know that Mo Eisa who's scored a ship ton of goals? Yeah, stop him." Burgey made a great one handed save early on to push his tight angled shot past the post, they showed some good early signs but once we got a foothold of the game it became a mere formality. In fact it was actually quite mean the way we went about it, Mowbray-esque, the good season not the one where he jumped ship after 10 games.


It all began with some amazing thinking from captain, leader, legend Michael Doyle. As soon as he won a foul he grabbed the ball, threw it down and pinged it down the line to Shipley, first time he played a great cross into Bayliss, half-volley, 1-0. Goalkeeper in a pile on the floor, boy wonder steaming off into the corner in celebration. Smoke bomb on the pitch despite West Midlands Police's massive warning the day before calling all Cov fans very naughty, there have been 29 so far apparently in league games, now make that 30.

Once we'd all calmed down from our celebrations the news came through that Yeovil had gone 1-0 up at home to Mansfield, which meant at that stage, a play off spot was confirmed. This was celebrated as much as the goal, and I'm fairly sure as soon as we found this out Grimmer rounded his marker and floated it in beautifully to the head of Marc McNulty. Top corner, 2-0, easy peasy. They were right push overs this lot, so we weren't done there, by a long shot. Shipley got in on the action by running in to meet Biamou's low cross and leathered it at the back stick.

The first half was that mental I can talk about a goal in just a sentence at the end of a paragraph, not having to draw out three sentences on what my reaction was, crazy. Anyway, talking of odd reactions to a goal, I'm pretty sure players were bored by the time Sparky capitalized on some shocking defending to lob Flinders, who could only get a hand to it as it trickled in. None of them reacted, like it was a chore at this stage, the job was done so just let them get the ball and go in at half time weeping as we book our Wembley hotels.

Half Time - Cheltenham Town 0-4 Coventry City

Second Half

Everything was going perfectly, surely even Coventry City couldn't blow a 4-0 lead in the second half, which is exactly what we were thinking when they got a penalty. Another note on that penalty, yes, it more than likely was outside the box, but I have two responses to that. 1. It really doesn't matter at all. 2. If it was outside the box then the rules of football mean Burgey would've been sent off for denying a clear goal scoring opportunity. Instead he only got a booking, same with Doyler for some apparent reason. So, in a way, we got very lucky that Mo Eisa was given the chance to send him the wrong way and give them a consolation around the hour mark.

Things were a bit still as we'd just found out Mansfield had equalised and were only a goal away from spoiling the party. That was until Biamou added to his own Goal of the Season competition with possibly the best yet. McNulty stopped suddenly on the byline, sending the sliding defender into the stand and leaving a gap for him to cross in and Biamou to OVERHEAD KICK in the fifth. I was right behind it and didn't really celebrate it, instead just falling over in shock at what Maxele had achieved.

This has been somewhat overlooked given how mental the game was, but it was an astounding goal. Bayliss was hauled off for Reid because the game had just been put beyond doubt and he's a hugely important player who needs to be fresh at all times. The same was the case with Sparky, but not before one last bit of magic, he beat the offside trap and burst down the left, everyone's expect him to go for Biamou again but he had other ideas and bent one into the far corner. 6-1. Poznans everywhere, EZEH EZEH EZEH.

Ponticelli replaced him and JCH got 10 minutes in place of Max so he didn't end up smashing any plates or anything like that. By our standards the last ten minutes were poor, we didn't even score a screamer on anything, perhaps trying to save it for next week, which annoyingly now means more as play offs aren't confirmed. Yeovil are no longer forgiven for the 6-2 after letting in a later winner, now Mansfield have a glimmer of hope to nip in. Other results however went our way, we're back into 6th.

Full Time - Cheltenham Town 1-6 Coventry City

If we can't get a point at home to Morecambe then we don't deserve to be anywhere near play offs, however the also only need a point to guarantee safety, so a draw would suit both sides. Sunderland fans loved hearing about that let me tell you. Still though, we can still get 5th and should be aiming for that as we'd end up being at home second, and allow us to achieve yet another pitch invasion. As a final note, I don't care if it's Morecambe at home, if we achieve play offs next week I'm steaming onto that poorly kept hallowed turf. If we bottle it and come 8th I'll never speak to any of you ever again.

My Man of the Match - Marc McNulty - Probably not even the best player, but my law of the land is that if you score a hat trick then you get Man of the Match, and this is his second of the season, taking him up to 23 goals this season. Stop it now Marc it's getting silly. Everyone was incredible though, from Burge right through to Sparky himself. See you all next week, try not to think about how in a month we'll either be high as a kite or crying and preparing for a 5 year stint here.

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