The Sky Blues made it two wins in succession on Tuesday night as they defeated Fleetwood Town at Highbury Stadium. It was my first journey to the Cod Army (a long one at that) but it turned out to be another pleasant one. A block of traffic just before arriving had us fans on the coach panicking that we’d miss the start of the game, but we pulled up a few minutes before kick off.
After an improved performance away at Chesterfield on Saturday, City continued to look a better side in this game and in turn, picked up another huge three points! Confidence has definitely risen since the appointment of Tony Mowbray as the players look revitalised if you like and are enjoying a bit more freedom.
The game started quickly as the Sky Blues attacked at one end before Fleetwood raced down the other and created the first chance on 2 minutes. A swift passing move gave Jamie Proctor room to let fly from the edge of the area but his effort flew harmlessly over. The away side then created a chance but nobody could get a touch, a good cross from the left evaded two City attackers and it was a chance passed by.
The Sky Blues were knocking the ball around well with 15 minutes played, but Fleetwood’s notoriously sturdy defence looked difficult to break down. This was partly down to some slow and laboured passing which wasn’t incisive enough to split the back line. Fleetwood were having their fair share of the ball too though, and they had particular joy out wide as they whipped some dangerous crosses in to the box. City’s central defenders were defending well again though, but Fleetwood’s lack of a James Hanson figure was certainly noticeable.
The rest of the half remained fairly even in all honesty, apart from the last few minutes where Fleetwood really pressed. Dominic Samuel had a few strikes that didn’t test the home keeper too much before this, but good moves allowed the home side to control the final few minutes and cause City some danger. Prior to this the best chance of the half came however, a good corner allowed Jamie Proctor to head towards goal but Matthew Pennington headed the ball off the line brilliantly.
Despite the first half not being awful by any means, the second half was a much improved display as we dominated for large parts. Fleetwood mustered a cross early on but after this the Sky Blues started to get a real foothold on the tie. With 48 minutes on the clock, a superb cross-field ball from Dominic Samuel found Frank Nouble who played a neat give and go with John Fleck before curling inches around the far post. Just 3 minutes later and the Fleetwood defence suffered a scare again as a driven Grant Ward corner ricocheted off a few bodies before being cleared as Samuel was steaming in to tap home.
Higher paced passing allowed the away side to carve open their opponents and a few chances were passed by before another piece of heroic defending halted Fleetwood’s chances of taking the lead. Aaron Martin gave the ball away poorly on the edge of the area with an hour on the clock and the home side would’ve been through on goal. Chris Stokes reacted brilliantly though and made a superb sliding challenge which got his team mates out of danger.
Apart from this lapse of concentration from Martin – who had defended admirably otherwise – the Sky Blues looked in complete control of proceedings. John Fleck saw a drive from the edge saved and Jim O’Brien went close before two great chances came in rapid succession. There was 71 minutes played when a great ball released Chris Stokes down the left and he unleashed a powerful drive which the keeper tipped around the post magnificently. Another chance was created from the resulting corner, and it was Stokes who met the delivery only for his header to bounce back off the bar to his and the Sky Blue faithful’s disbelief.
With 13 minutes left to play Fleetwood had a rare chance up the other end as a corner was cleared to the edge of the box, Gareth Evans volleyed powerfully but it was well blocked. Why was he allowed the space to let fly though? We really need squeeze out quicker when the ball is initially cleared… A let off for City. The next chance then fell to us on 86 minutes as good work allowed Odelusi to receive the ball in the area but he was unable to get a shot away…
It just didn’t look like it was going to be our night, that was until the 88th minute when the Sky Blues finally took a deserved lead. Substitute Jim O’Brien played a perfectly weighted ball out wide to Dominic Samuel, the striker then sold his man with a dummy before leaving him on the ground and racing away to finish neatly in to the far corner. The away end erupted and it was 1-0!!! Five minutes additional time was then announced but we weren’t finished there. Good defending had allowed us to soak up the late pressure before Frank Nouble pressed the Goalkeeper in the 95th minute. The keeper’s kick then ricocheted off Nouble and hit the post, but the frontman reacted first to tap home and seal a 2-0 victory… A much needed one at that!
I went in to the game feeling confident we could pick up back-to-back wins for only the second time this season, and we did it with some style in the end. The first half wasn’t too pretty, but we restricted the home side to very little and we never really looked in danger. The second half was brilliant, we came out and played them off the park if I’m honest… A 7 hour round-trip was certainly worth it!
One thing I really noticed during today’s game is that we are starting to play with more width again, and not this narrow and predictable football that Pressley had installed in to the lads. Confidence seemed to be higher again as I stated earlier, with our passing in tight areas and speed of attacks improving. I think the front three enjoyed a productive game and they seem to be finally gelling together and creating chances. At times we perhaps didn’t press high enough, but we gave away minimal chances to the oppositionand kept a clean sheet so you’ve got to give Mowbray and the boys credit. He knows what we’re doing.
We are still a mile away from a finished product however, and we’ve got nine huge games left to play. We are only 3 points off the bottom four still, we’ve got to remember that! We can’t get carried away… Doncaster will provide a stern challenge on Saturday but another win would propel us further away from danger which is what this club needs right now. I have been very impressed with Mowbray so far and he’s got us playing some decent stuff, let’s just hope we stay up and he builds a team in the summer… Things could look up. But as I said, we’ve got to concentrate on the immediate first, and that’s Saturday and the rest of our fixtures.
Let’s stay up… Come on!!!
Lee Burge – 7
Chris Stokes – 7.5
Matthew Pennington – 7.5
Aaron Martin – 7
Jordan Willis – 7
John Fleck – 7
Adam Barton – 7
Grant Ward – 7
Dominic Samuel – 8
Marcus Tudgay – 7
Frank Nouble – 8.5
Jim O’Brien- 7
Sanmi Odelusi – 6.5
Andy Webster – N/A