Coventry City’s fine home form continued on Saturday as they swept aside a Shrewsbury side with a real routine feel. After last weekend’s loss at Bury we expected a reaction, but the way in which we dominated proceedings made for another pleasant viewing at the Ricoh Arena.
Reice Charles-Cook came in for the absent Lee Burge between the posts and he was relatively untroubled throughout, the away side only registering a couple of attempts on target. Up the other end the Sky Blues were firing on all cylinders, some exquisitely taken goals handed the home side victory but it could have been a wider margin.
The home side got off to a bright start following the referee’s whistle and they went close within 2 minutes. A corner was won after Ryan Kent charged in to the area and went down under a challenge, the intitial delivery was cleared but it fell to Adam Armstrong who saw his effort deflected in to the hands of Mark Halstead.
A settled spell soon followed as both teams began to duel in the centre of the pitch, possession began to be shared but it was Shrewsbury who carved out the next chance of the affair on 7 minutes. Coventry lost the ball in their defensive third after Armstrong ran in to traffic and the away side then delivered a cross towards James Collins but the striker could only head tamely towards Reice Charles-Cook.
The next passage of play proved to be fairly uninspiring from both sides but the tie seemed to come alive on 19 minutes when the Sky Blues were denied what looked like a stonewall penalty after Kent was felled. A furious reaction from the home fans and players alike seemed to ignite a spark and this fuelled a sense of injustice that Mowbray’s men were determined to counteract.
With 22 minutes on the clock Kent went close from the edge of the area and City started to gain a real foothold on affairs. Some silky, sublime football was on show courtesy of the home team and they deservedly opened the scoring on 27 minutes. It was a great move that created the chance and Fortune rolled his man excellently before finding Armstrong, the in-form forward then made no mistakes with the finish as he drilled the ball in to the bottom right corner.
Just 2 minutes later and the lead was nearly doubled, Armstrong turned provider this time as he freed Kent but the midfielder couldn’t get the ball past Halstead who saved well. The keeper was on hand again on 34 minutes to fly across his goal to claw a John Fleck piledriver out of the top corner.
The pace of the game began to slow down as the half progressed but it was the Sky Blues who still looked promising in front of goal. Jacob Murphy saw a one-on-one opportunity stopped by the visiting keeper but there was nothing he could do when the margin was widened with the last kick of the first period. Another neat move split the Shrews defence and Fortune won a penalty after bustling his way through, he then stepped up to take it himself and an emphatic finish followed to make it 2-0.
A fairly scrappy opening to the second period took place as Shrewsbury searched for a route back in to the game, some poor passing from the away side resulted in no real rhythm to the match and the Sky Blues were comfortable in defending any attempted attacks.
It took until 59 minutes for the first chance of the half to be fashioned and it came after Coventry started to go through the motions. Some speedy footwork from Murphy won a corner and his whipped delivery picked out Fortune but the experienced striker couldn’t connect cleanly.
On the hour mark John Fleck stung the hands of Halstead as the home side continued to press, Aaron Martin then sliced an effort wide from a corner on 62 minutes before Shrewsbury attacked up the other end with a low cross that was eventually cleared by the Coventry defence.
Just 3 minutes later and the Shrews’ misery would be compounded as the home fans witnessed a third goal from their side. Fortune was at the centre of the attack again and it was his perfectly weighted through ball that released Armstrong, he then finished expertly to fire himself to the top of the scoring charts in League One.
It was all one-way traffic now as the Sky Blues were in cruise control, a jubilant mood resounded around the Ricoh Arena and confidence was high on the pitch. This was easily visible on 73 minutes as Armstrong attempted an audacious half-volley from 30 yards, his effort dipped narrowly wide of the far post to the relief of the away goalkeeper.
The latter stages of the game saw the home team strive for more goals but they were unable to widen the margin. Possession was kept well and the ball was knocked around on a slick surface with real ease, this was greeted with applause by the home supporters and the referee sounded his whistle to bring a domineering display to a close.
Well, what another admirable display that was! In my preview I was adamant that Shrewsbury wouldn’t be pushovers, I was proved wrong. The way we controlled the game was extraordinary and the away supporters will reflect on that and realise that they were lucky to get away with only three goals in the ‘goals against’ column.
At Bury we went missing, this week we were in tantalising form. Fair enough we had a fairly slow first 20 minutes or so, but from that point onwards we were relentless. The only negative you can pick out from that performance is the fact we should have scored more goals – you know it’s good when that’s the only downside.
Defensively we coped well with a potentially dangerous forward line and this laid the foundations. In the middle of the park both John Fleck and Romain Vincelot were metronomic in keeping our game ticking over, their partnership continues to develop.
In the forward areas we were unstoppable, Adam Armstrong took both of his goals with real confidence but Marc Antione-Fortune has to be man of the match for me. His experience showed in the way he held the ball up and his ability to split the opposition defence was key in creating space for Armstrong, Kent and Murphy to manoeuvre.
If our immense home form continues then this could be a very enjoyable campaign, we are continually putting teams to the sword and Mowbray’s dream to make the Ricoh a fortress is coming true thus far. It’s a necessity to win the majority of your home games if you want to push at the right end of the league, anything you pick up away is then a welcome bonus.
It’s so far so good for the Sky Blues and it’s enjoyable being a City fan at the moment. People are talking about us for positive reasons and long may it continue! We still need to stay grounded, but as a supporter it’s hard to as success isn’t something we’ve experienced over the past few years. It’s finally looking as if we can rebuild our club once more, there are 36 games still to play though – we have a long way to go but the signs are pointing forwards.
Reice Charles-Cook – 7
Chris Stokes – 7
Reda Johnson – 7
Aaron Martin – 7
Sam Ricketts – 7
John Fleck – 8
Romain Vincelot – 8
Jacob Murphy – 7
Ryan Kent – 7
Adam Armstrong – 9
Marc Antione-Fortune – 9
Coventry City: Charles-Cook; Ricketts, Martin, Johnson, Stokes; Murphy (Lameiras 81), Vincelot, Fleck (Morris 72), Kent; Fortune (Tudgay 80), Armstrong.
Unused Substitutes: Burge, Haynes, C.Thomas, O’Brien.
Shrewsbury Town: Halstead, Grandison, Knight-Percival, Akpa-Akpro, Collins (Barnett 70), Tootle, Sadler, Lawrence, Kai-Kai, Cole, Agogo.
Unused Substitutes: Leutwiler, Brown, Black, McAlinden, Clark, Ellis.