We were not expecting to get a point from today’s game as a Bristol City win looked an almost certainty in most people’s eyes, but in the end I’m kind of dissapointed we didn’t leave with all three… I would expect that the Robins fans were anticipating another whitewash after their 6-0 demolition of Bradford, but the Sky Blues provided a much sterner opposition.
A healthy following of City supporters made the journey South and they were rewarded with one of the best performances of the season. Many would of thought that Bristol would run riot as they would enjoy freedom, whereas City would have been nervous, but it didn’t play out like that. The Sky Blues kept their emotions in check and we looked calm and composed on the ball for large parts of the game. It was a very mature performance as we defended admirably and we would have left with a win on another day.
The game got underway in front of a packed out stadium and the home side looked comfortable on the ball early on. Similar to us versus Oldham, they knocked the ball around in areas that wouldn’t particularly trouble our defence and the Sky Blues were happy to let Bristol pass the ball across their own back four. Despite the Robins’ early possession Coventry created the first chance of the affair with just 3 minutes on the clock, Frank Nouble striking narrowly over the bar from 20 yards. Another chance was nearly carved out just a minute later as Jim O’Brien found Nouble on the left flank, he then beat his man before seeing his attempted cross deflected in to Frank Fielding’s arms.
It was a fairly slow opening 15 minutes in all honesty as neither team could fashion any real chances. Derrick Williams headed over from a corner on 10 minutes but this is the closest Bristol came in the opening exchanges. The home side continued to pass the ball around well but the Sky Blues defended competently to restrict the space for the champions, with Lee Burge untested in the Sky Blues goal. A moment that epitomised this came about on 18 minutes as Korey Smith shanked wide from 25 yards, it was a patient build up that lead to the chance but the Robins were restricted to a long range effort as they couldn’t pick a gap between the lines.
Coventry City started to grow in to the game from this point though and they began to enjoy more of the ball. A lot of the possession did come in our own defensive third however but we did look to be growing in confidence. As we got the ball in to the midfield quicker we began to look more dangerous as we shifted the ball out wide, the only negative is that the delivery from wide areas was poor, but it didn’t help that a solitary body was in space in the area. On 25 minutes a better quality delivery did go in however as Jim O’Brien picked out Reda Johnson, it was the finish that was left wanting this time though as he couldn’t connect cleanly and Fielding gratefully collected.
It was a good period of play for the away side and another chance was spurned on 26 minutes. Frank Nouble won the ball just inside the Bristol City half before finding Nick Proschwitz on the edge of the area, he then cut inside and picked out O’Brien with the Skipper only managing to blaze over. The southern side then went up the other end and created two chances of their own but both were blocked as Jordan Willis and Matthew Pennington threw their bodies on the line. This allowed City to counter with real pace and they perhaps should have made more of the situation. Nouble found O’Brien out wide and his pass then reached Proschwitz, the German striker then elected to shoot instead of squaring to Adam Barton and his effort was blocked. Wasteful.
Just 4 minutes later and the Sky Blues had their best chance of the half. John Fleck intercepted the ball in the middle of the park before driving forward which allowed him to pick out Frank Nouble, his effort was then blocked and Fleck volleyed the loose ball to the goalkeeper’s left but Fielding saved well. The tie quietened down from this point onwards though as Bristol started to control possession again but create very little. Coventry did have the final chances of the first period however as solid defending provided a platform to go forward. Another swift counter on 42 minutes allowed Grant Ward to have time to curl an effort agonisingly past the far post with the keeper sprawling. Nick Proschwitz was then set free just before the whistle and he lobbed the advancing goalkeeper, only to see the offside flag had been raised. The referee then brought an end to a very bright opening half for the Sky Blues, the scores level.
The second half had a similar feel to it as the first really as both sides battled it out, with Bristol knowin a point would see them lift the League One trophy. The home side had looked the brighter of the two sides early on but the Sky Blues settled down again after 50 minutes and possession was well kept. Physically we were matching the Robins too as our midfield looked to be solid again, providing a barrier in front of our back four. We were clever on the ball and we looked assured in possession, particulary John Fleck who pulled the strings so to speak. We began to win free kicks in dangerous areas as Bristol started to look threatened by us. It was the home side who had the first chance though as James Tavernier found space on the edge of the area, it was Matthew Pennington there again to deny the defender with a superb block.
Bristol started to get back on top in the game which was a very topsy-turvy affair. The started to spray the ball around with a real conviction but the Sky Blues continued to graft and defend admitably. This then allowed Grant Ward to have the next effort on goal after good work from Nouble, unfortunately it was right down the slot for Fielding to hold. A good move then saw Bristol attack down the other end on 67 minutes and they were perhaps a victim of overplaying. They had the ball in the area and after multiple chances to let fly they finally took aim from around 12 yards, James Tavernier was off balance though and he shaped his effort wide of the right post.
Coventry were the next to go close on 72 minutes as a good passing move resulted in a free kick being awarded after an Aden Flint foul. The Sky Blue players then lined up over the ball but it was Nick Proschwitz who took it and his dipping effort flew over the wall but just wide, meaning he was inches away from openin his account with the club. Despite the Sky Blues defensive back line naturally dropping deeper as fatigue kicked in, it was the away side that continued to create half-chances. These were passed by though and Bristol kept knocking at the door and on 80 minutes Kieran Agard used phenomenal pace to skip past the chasing pack before squaring to Luke Freeman in the centre of the box, the midfielder couldn’t hit the target though.
Both teams were looking happy to settle for a share of the spoils at this point but the Sky Blues carved out the final chances of the match. A great ball from Matthew Pennington on 84 minutes found Adam Barton in an advanced position, the Irish midfielder then found Proschwitz who tried an audacious chipped effort from out wide which forced Frank Fielding to scramble across his goal and save. Substitute James Maddison then found Sanmi Odelusi, who also came off the bench, out wide and the midfielder drove goal-bound before striking straight at the goalkeeper instead of laying the ball to Proschwitz who was in a much better position. It was the German who had the final chance of the game but he wrapped it just the wrong side of the far post. Referee, David Coote then put his lips to the whistle to ensure the Sky Blues gained another point towards their survival bid. A pitch invasion swiftly followed as Bristol City were crowned champions and hats off to them, they’ve deserved it…
I am absolutely delighted to have travelled home with another point on the board and a whole lot closer to safety. Mowbray said prior to the game that he wouldn’t set the team up to ‘park the bus’ and he was true to his word as we put in a superb display. It was a game that proved that we can mix it with the best in the division on our day and it gives me great hope for the future… If Mowbray stays. It was all round excellent display and there aren’t many teams that go to Ashton Gate and keep a clean sheet, let alone restricting them to zero shots on target. Yes ZERO.
In my opinion today showed just how far we have come since Mowbray’s appointment. I know the 14 lads that featured in a City shirt put a shift in but a lot of the credit must go to the gaffer also. He got the selection spot on and the way we set up was magnificent – at no point in that game did we look at all troubled. Crazy to think considering we were playing the runaway league champions. There would of been a game plan put in place during this week’s training and credit goes to every single player for executing it magnificently. As I said earlier, only a small percentage of Sky Blue supporters genuinely believed we would get a result today, so to leave with a point is brilliant. Our away record under Mowbray is sensational, we’ve won three and drew two of the five fixtures and a clean sheet has been kept in four of those… Very encouraging signs!
We can’t get carried away though, we have two important games left against teams that are also battling to stay in this division. We aren’t safe until it’s mathematically done and the Crewe game at the Ricoh now becomes a massive game… Win and we are all but secure. If you were doubting going to the game against the Railwaymen get down to the Ricoh and get behind the lads. The atmosphere against Oldham last Tuesday and Mowbray said we sucked the ball in to the net, speaking metaphorically of course! Let’s do it again… Get the job done and it’s party time at Crawley!
Lee Burge – 6
Chris Stokes – 7.5
Reda Johnson – 7.5
Matthew Pennington – 8.5
Jordan Willis – 7.5
Jim O’Brien – 7.5
John Fleck – 8.5
Grant Ward – 7
Adam Barton – 7
Frank Nouble – 6
Nick Proschwitz – 7
Aaron Phillips – 7
James Maddison – 7
Sanmi Odelusi – N/A