Well, we never do things the easy way do we! We now face a nervy fixture away at Crawley next Sunday and we are still looking for a result to keep us up. Three points today would have ensured the Sky Blues League One football for next season, but this is Coventry City Football Club… We love a last day survival bid.
Many Sky Blues fans had envisioned a win to complete survival, and with a bumper crowd there to see it, three points would have put a few nerves to rest. But as some said before the game, it was bogey team Crewe who we were playing – what is it about them? It was just another frustratingly poor performance in a situation where the players needed to stand up and be counted. Maybe a few of them thought it was job done already? Well, it’s certainly not finished yet!
As we have at home for most of the season, we looked the better side on the ball but we didn’t create too many clear-cut chances. The stats show this, we had more possession and created 20 shooting opportunities. But when you look at shots on target, you’ll notice a meagre sum of 4. Crewe were fairly poor too though and they only registered 3 attempts on target – the difference is, they scored all of them! We’ve heaped a whole load of pressure on ourselves now, instead of partying at Crawley next week, we’ll be chewing our fingernails, sweating profusely and anxiously checking other results whilst praying to the Gods of football. We’re used to this though… It’s nothing new for us.
It was a fairly even first 5 minutes at the Ricoh as both teams looked to stamp their authority on the game. The Sky Blues began to knock the ball around well in phases though, but it was fairly slow paced however. We did create the first chance of the affair on 8 minutes as we looked to drive forward, and it was Adam Barton who dragged just wide after good feet allowed him to skip past his marker. More good build up play saw another chance fashioned just seconds later but it was Jim O’Brien who skewed disappointingly wide this time around.
The Sky Blues continued to press and the best chance of the game came about on 11 minutes. A great cross from John Fleck picked out Nick Proschwitz in the area, he then knocked down to Adam Barton who diverted the ball in to O’Brien’s path. The skipper then drilled the ball low from close range but Paul Rachubka was down quickly in the Crewe goal to save with his feet. We continued to look the better side but it was a glaring lack of quality that was costing us, meanwhile, the Railwaymen were causing City no problems.
City were getting the ball in to decent areas but it was the final ball that was missing. On one of the few occasions where the pass was well executed, we were wasteful with the finish as Jim O’Brien found Proschwitz in the area, the German was only able to fire over though from a tight angle. Crosses were also an area of weakness for us as we looked continually uneconomical going forward, but when a pinpoint delivery was produced, luck wasn’t on our side. With 22 minutes on the clock O’Brien whipped a ball towards Proschwitz and he beat the goalkeeper to it and it looked to be a certain goal, but a defender somehow hooked it away off the line.
Our inability to finish chances was then to be punished again as Crewe countered to grab a breakthrough against the run of play. Poor defending allowed Ryan Colclough to drill a low cross across the six-yard box, the ball then went under Lee Burge’s flailing wrist and Lauri Dalla Velle was there to promptly tap home. It was a common occurrence that us supporters have became accustomed to, particularly on home soil – being on top, only to concede an easily avoidable goal.
After scoring, Crewe looked to be revitalised a little as their energy levels increased and the Sky Blues began to give the ball away too easily. It turned in to a fairly scrappy affair which was expected when you look at the position of the two sides, but we were attempting the long ball too often and nothing would stick. As I’ve commented on before, when our defenders/midfielders received the ball, there was very little movement ahead of them and it lead to hopeful lumps forward.
The home fans were beginning to feel a bit disgruntled and their frustration heightened further on 35 minutes as the away side doubled their advantage. A free kick was won out wide and the delivery looked to be too close to Burge. However, the goalkeeper dropped the ball and was then sent to ground as a striker slid in underneath him, the loose ball was then fed to Ryan Colclough and he fired Crewe in to a 2-0 advantage. It did look to be an infringement from the stands as the away player took out Burge, but the referee let play continue, leaving Crewe with an empty net. One frustrating thing was that the City defence stopped in anticipation of a free kick being given – you get taught when you are five to play to the whistle.
The final 10 minutes of the opening period petered out really as both teams scrapped for the ball. Crewe were now enjoying a bit more possession and City became very sloppy in all areas. Despite this, the two final chances of the half fell the way of the Sky Blues as Nouble struck wide from 25 yards on 42 minutes, O’Brien then saw an effort deflected just over in to stoppage time. The referee soon sounded his half-time whistle to leave the Sky Blues in deep trouble at the break.
Tony Mowbray opted to make two substitutions before the start of the second half as James Maddison and Aaron Martin were introduced at the expense of Adam Barton and Matthew Pennington. City were then the side to make the better start again and Jim O’Brien went close on 49 minutes after good work from Chris Stokes, the Scotsman couldn’t get his effort on target however. Just a few minutes later and a passage of play that summed up the way we were playing arrived. A lucky ricochet allowed Frank Nouble to have the ball at his feet inside the area with his back to goal, he then attempted to roll in John Fleck but the midfielder wasn’t sharp enough – it’s little moments like that that cost us.
Crewe were camping out at the back now with two banks of five frustrating the Sky Blues attack. We did manage to force our way through on 53 minutes though as Stokes found Fleck in the area, he then rolled Nouble in but the striker smashed the ball in to the side netting as opposed to drilling across the face. Another chance was wasted just before the hour mark as another good build up saw Jim O’Brien gain the ball on the edge of the box, he then shifted it to the right before curling his effort narrowly over.
Sanmi Odelusi was then introduced as City desperately needed to claw their way back in to the game. Attack after attack was mounted by the home side and Ward had a long range effort blocked on 65 minutes before James Maddison curled just wide after a neat one-two with Chris Stokes. The second half substitution then nearly payed off as Odelusi went close on 72 minutes, the midfielder’s strike from the edge was smartly saved by Rachubka. A final sucker-punch was then dealt though as Crewe attacked up the other end and they managed to score their third of the tie. Lauri Dalla Valle was given too much space to pick out a cross which landed straight on Marcus Haber’s head, Burge was then stranded in the home goal and the striker duly converted. City were in complete disarray at this point and it prompted a mass exodus of supporters.
The poor standard of the game continued from the point but the City fans who remained in the stadium were given something to cheer (albeit very half-heartedly) as Nick Proschwitz registered his first goal for the club. Another accurate delivery from Jim O’Brien found the striker and he headed home emphatically to give the Sky Blues a consolation. A few more chances were carved out but it just wasn’t to be and the referee brought an end to a dismal display, with City slipping to a 3-1 defeat.
I travelled home today pondering on where we went wrong. It was a result that had undone the hard work that we saw at Bristol City where we gained a point. We went in to the game hoping to get the job done and dusted but it was to be another day of disappointment in the life of a Coventry supporter. There was some good passages of play but on the whole it was poor, very poor, and we now face the pressure of needing a result next Sunday.
We conceded three absolute clangers and that is absolutely unacceptable. You can’t afford to concede three goals that could’ve been prevented, you don’t mind so much when they are absolute worldies but to hand the opposition simple chances is unthinkable. It’s happened on too many occasions this term and that’s why we are languishing in the third tier of English football. Doncaster and Leyton Orient at home are just two prime examples. We’ve now played 21 league games at the Ricoh this season, we’ve won just 5. Gutting to say the least.
Luckily, we have a fair few teams below us going in to the last fixture and this could play in our favour. Even if we lose at Crawley (I pray to God that we don’t), Notts County and Crewe would still have to win and draw respectively. The aforementioned face a trip to Gillingham, whilst the latter host Bradford. I really would like to think we’ll get the job done at the Broadfield Stadium but I’ve questioned our bottle for months now… It’s time for one last push! Bodies have got to go on the line next week, if they don’t, I and many others will be fuming.
I am confident that we will stay up though, more down to other teams losing however, but I think we’ll stay up! Certain players have to realise the severity of the situation though as relegation would be the end for the club in my opinion.
Just a quick final note… The fact that there was no lap of honour at the end of the game got to me! I know we don’t have much to shout about but it would’ve been nice for the players to come out and recognise the fans support as many stayed behind in anticipation of the players returning to the field, myself included. When they didn’t I was shocked, the least we deserve is some applause, it’s been a nightmare season and we’ve stuck behind them, particularly away. I’ve been to every game this season, spent thousands of pounds and travelled the lengths of the country to follow the team I support – a lap of honour is tradition.
Anyway, rant over! I still love my team, and I have everything crossed that we stay up next weekend! Let’s get behind Mogga and the lads at Crawley!
Lee Burge – 5
Chris Stokes – 6.5
Matthew Pennington – 5.5
Reda Johnson – 6
Aaron Phillips – 5
Jim O’Brien – 7.5
John Fleck – 6
Grant Ward – 5
Adam Barton – 5
Nick Proschwitz – 6.5
Frank Nouble – 5.5
James Maddison – 6
Aaron Martin – 6
Sanmi Odelusi – 6