The Sky Blues made the trip to Spotland Stadium on Tuesday night as they looked to progress in to the second round of the Capital One Cup. After a traffic-ridden journey, we arrived with about 10 minutes to spare before kick-off and an impressive embankment of Sky Blue supporters began to congregate in the away end. It proved to be a very long night in the end for the traveling fans as the game went the distance and penalties saw Rochdale go through after a competitive game of football.
With a couple of knocks and Saturday’s league fixtures in mind, Mowbray made a few changes in personnel as Reice Charles-Cook, Aaron Phillips, Aaron Martin, Bryn Morris and Marcus Tudgay were drafted in to replace Lee Burge, Jordan Willis, Reda Johnson, James Maddison and Adam Armstrong respectively.
The game got off to a high pace as both teams scrapped to gain a foothold in possession, the home side soon began to settle in to their rhythm however and City began to come under some early pressure. Jamie Allen had Dale’s first effort on goal with 4 minutes played but he could only blaze over from 25 yards after shrugging Ruben Lameiras off the ball.
As Dale continued to probe forward and look for a breakthrough, the Coventry back four responded well to deal with any danger. Peter Vincenti was at the centre of every home move early on and he was winning the physical battle as his side’s dominance began to show. It was Vincenti who squandered the next chance of the evening on 13 minutes as he failed to steer a Donal McDermott cross on target.
Chances were coming thick and fast for Rochdale at this point and on 16 minutes two came along in very quick succession. The first saw Joe Bunney blaze over from six yards following some superb build-up involving Vincenti and McDermott whilst the second came from Bunney again who let fly from 20 yards but Sam Ricketts was positioned well to block a goal-bound effort.
The Sky Blues’ first intricate venture forward involving Ruben Lameiras, Marcus Tudgay and Jim O’Brien came about on 20 minutes but the flag was raised to thwart the attack. It was service as normal soon after though as Dale had a couple of glorious chances to take the lead. Firstly, a McDermott corner found Oliver Lancashire but the defender could only head wide unmarked. Another corner was drilled in from the wide player on 24 minutes and it flashed across the face of the area with several attackers only a boot away from tapping in to the net.
Following several threatening Rochdale moves, the Sky Blues had their first attempt on target registered on 27 minutes. Tidy play down the left wing between O’Brien and Chris Stokes saw Bryn Morris receive the ball on the edge of the area, he then shaped a wonderful cross towards Tudgay but the striker was unable to get sufficient power on his header. City got forward with more freedom as the game evened out and O’Brien saw two efforts blocked either side of a Lameiras effort which was also well stopped.
A further two chances passed by for City as Sam Ricketts saw a low free-kick saved on 32 minutes before Tudgay was denied by the flailing leg of Josh Lillis in the Rochdale goal a couple of minutes later. A topsy-turvy end to the first half followed as both teams eyed an opener, McDermott let fly from range for the home side on 39 minutes and it took a slight deflection that forced Charles-Cook in to a magnificent save.
Coventry then had a few half-chances themselves but they didn’t test Lillis and Rochdale broke away with 44 minutes on the clock following a defensive block. Callum Camps drove dangerously forward before spreading the ball out wide to McDermott who was in acres of space, he then cut inside before curling a sublime finish in to the far corner past a fully stretched Charles-Cook to give his side the lead at the break.
No sooner than the referee had started proceedings in the second period, Dale were on the attack. After recycling possession from an over-hit corner, Jim McNulty smashed a low cross in to Camps’ feet but he got his effort all wrong from 18 yards. The Sky Blues were giving the ball away far too easily in the centre of the field but they still restricted Keith Hill’s side to fewer chances than in the first half.
It was the away side who carved out the next opportunity of the affair as Stokes flashed an effort narrowly wide on 51 minutes following some tidy work from Fleck and Tudgay. An offensive substitute from Tony Mowbray then saw James Maddison replace Romain Vincelot as his side searched for a route back in to the game. A period of end-to-end football pursued however and Vincenti curled an effort inches wide of Charles-Cook’s post before Fleck went close for the visitors as Lillis was forced in to a save.
As the game began to become very tightly contested, the Sky Blues looked more threatening although not many clear-cut chances were fashioned in a finely poised affair. Some incisive play from Maddison lead to O’Brien picking up the ball in the area but he was crowded out as he attempted to get a shot away just before the hour mark. The home side were thwarted on the next attack after Calvin Andrew lashed a ball towards the front post, superb defending by Aaron Phillips quelled the danger however as he got his body in front of the opposition player to put the ball behind for a corner.
With 65 minutes played, both sides had chances spurned in a fast-paced spell as Ian Henderson struck wide after Fleck gifted him the ball, Morris then picked out Lameiras on the counter for Coventry but the Portuguese midfielder couldn’t keep his effort down. The match began to open up and become end-to-end as the crowd were on edge, a few opportunities passed by for either side but with 10 minutes to play the away side notched up a gear.
In the 81st minute, Maddison went on a jinking run where he beat two defenders before seeing a low effort well saved. The ball was in the back of the net a few seconds later after Tudgay controlled brilliantly in the area but the flag was raised to deny him. Rochdale reverted to ‘parking the bus’ in attempt to deny the Sky Blues who now looked relentless going forward, Mowbray’s side had found a new lease of life.
Despite the home side’s resolute defending, City did manage to equalise with 85 minutes played to send the away end in to rafters. Two substitutes combined as Maddison found George Thomas out wide, he then drilled in a low delivery and Tudgay was there to tap home from six yards and register his first goal of the season.
The final period of the game saw Coventry throw the kitchen sink at the home side and it very nearly paid off as they searched for a winner. Dale were clearly rattled and Tudgay headed over from 86 minutes before Fleck struck over a minute later after a penalty appeal was waved away. A questionable offside decision then denied Tudgay a winner as he volleyed excellently in to the corner in the dying embers, City were adamant he was onside but the referee blew to signal extra-time.Extra-Time
With players physically and mentally drained, it proved to be a fairly uneventful extra period. Both sides kept possession well early on and it took until the 95th minute for the first chance to open up, Stokes couldn’t hit the target for the visitors from long range however. Two more chances fell to the Sky Blues approaching 100 minutes as Tudgay sliced the ball over from the edge of area after a neat move before Lameiras fired inches wide of the post on the next move.
Rochdale had two excellent chances to take the lead themselves before half-time in extra-time but Charles-Cook was on hand to deny them in the Coventry goal. The first save was magnificent to deny Jamie Allen from point-blank range, the second was more routine as Vincenti fluffed his free header.
As the second period of 15 minutes got underway, Dale were the first to take aim as Calvin Andrew headed wide from an Allen corner. The best chance then fell to Stokes as he stole the ball off a defender deep in the Rochdale area, he then failed to convert to the Sky Blues’ disbelief as he miscued his effort in to the side-netting in the 115th minute. Henderson then went close just 3 minutes later and the home fans thought it was in, it wasn’t though and the game would go to penalties.
You could feel the tension around the stadium as the home side stepped up for the first spot-kick. Players held their nerves however as the first 7 penalties were scored to make it 4-3 to Rochdale. Ruben Lameiras then stepped up for the away side but he could only hit the bar to hand Calvin Andrew the chance to win it for Dale. The experienced forward stepped up and finished with aplomb to knock City out of the Capital One Cup.
Well, that was certainly an eventful game in the end! It proved to be a tough fixture as a good Rochdale side showed us in glimpses why they beat Peterborough 2-0 at the weekend. Apart from the last 15 minutes of normal time where City moved up a gear or two, the performance was a way off that of Saturday afternoon, but it was still a gutsy and determined display.
With five changes being made prior to kick-off, I thought we did manage the game quite well despite riding our luck a little at times. Defensively we were left exposed a little early on as Rochdale got forward with ease but once we settled down we looked competent in dealing with them. Peter Vincenti and Donal McDermott did cause us problems out wide but centrally we were organised enough to clear the danger.
Going forward was where we really struggled, and although Ruben Lameiras looked promising in spells, he perhaps wasn’t as potent as he was at the weekend. I think Marcus Tudgay had a good game in terms of his hold-up play, he just lacked the pace of Armstrong to feed off him – maybe they would make a good pairing?
We were sloppy in midfield on some occasions as Romain Vincelot, John Fleck and Bryn Morris all gave away possession too easily at times but we recovered defensively time after time. All in all, it wasn’t too bad of a display in my opinion as despite ringing the changes, we drew 1-1 after normal time with a few key players out of the side – I would’ve taken a point in the league.
That’s how I’m going to look at it, we had enough chances towards the end of the game to win too. Peterborough were outplayed by Keith Hill’s side on Saturday, we were unlucky not to leave victorious. To lose on penalties is gutting, but it is just a lottery at the end of the day. It would’ve been nice to draw a ‘big team’ in the next round but the league is where it matters…roll on Milwall!
Reice Charles-Cook – 7
Chris Stokes – 7
Sam Ricketts -7
Aaron Martin – 7
Aaron Phillips – 6
John Fleck – 6
Romain Vincelot – 5
Jim O’Brien – 7
Bryn Morris – 5
Ruben Lameiras – 6
Marcus Tudgay – 7
James Maddison – 7
George Thomas – 7
Coventry City: Charles-Cook (GK), Phillips, Ricketts, Martin, Stokes, O’Brien (G.Thomas 76), Vincelot (Maddison 53), Morris, Fleck, Lameiras, Tudgay.
Unused Substitutes: Burge (GK), Johnson, Haynes, C.Thomas, Swanson.
Rochdale: Lillis, Rafferty, McNulty, Lancashire, Vincenti, McDermott (Noble-Lazarus 64), Allen, Camps (Rose 99), Kennedy, Bunney (Andrew 45), Henderson.
Unused Substitutes: Eastham, Allesandra, Tanser, Diba Musangu.