Bury were the latest team to travel to the Ricoh Arena on Saturday as The Sky Blues looked for their first win in six games. Last time out, a point was earned away to Port Vale to halt a run of three defeats. Six turned out to be a lucky number for City on this occasion though as they romped their way to an enthralling 6-0 victory.
As the cold air swirled around the stadium, the performance of the home side certainly warmed up the supporters. Some pessimism was to be had prior to kick-off , but that was all eradicated rather promptly as Coventry picked apart a poor Bury side who continue to disappoint. As a result, Mowbray’s men stay 5th in League One but they are now only six points behind second placed Gillingham.
With a host of former Coventry City players watching from the stands on the club’s annual ‘legends day’, the team of present made an electric start as they raced into a 1-0 lead with only 3 minutes played. An initial Adam Armstrong effort was saved well by Ian Lawlor, but the resulting corner was taken by Joe Cole and Chris Stokes hammered the ball home from the centre of the box after finding space.
After taking an early lead, Tony Mowbray’s side knocked the ball around with confidence and Bury struggled to compete. The visitors’ attempt at closing down The Sky Blues proved to be in vein as Baily Cargill doubled his side’s lead on 11 minutes. Another probing forward move caused problems and James Maddison won a free kick on the corner of the area after showing quick feet. Cole then provided a killer ball again as he picked out Cargill at the back post and the defender forced the ball past the keeper on his home debut.
Incredibly, given the recent bout of lacklustre performances, the frequent forward ventures continued for the hosts and they scored yet again to make it 3-0 after only 17 minutes. Academy graduate James Maddison received a short pass from Cole before pivoting around his marker expertly. The youngster then took advantage of the space he had created to rifle a low effort into the bottom corner past the despairing Lawlor.
City were really turning on the style and they were agonisingly close to stretching the lead even further as Maddison struck the side netting just a minute later. The tempo of the game soon slowed down, but Coventry remained firmly in the driving seat. After a few unrewarded passing moves, Bury had their first chance of the affair with 28 minutes played. Neat build-up eventually led to an Andrew Tutte strike which Reice Charles-Cook parried away. Leon Clarke then followed in for the rebound but Cargill cleared well to deny the striker a goal on his return to the Ricoh.
The Shakers soon perked up after creating an opening and Clarke had another chance to grab a goal on 35 minutes. It was a low Joe Riley cross that found him lurking in the box, but Coventry’s keeper pulled off a superb reaction save to tip the ball over from close range. Although Bury had the better of the latter moments in the first half, the home fans were in jubilant mood again as John Fleck added a fourth goal just before the interval. The midfielder was picked out by Cole and he made no mistakes with the finish, striking a low effort into the corner from 30 yards.
As the home side had the game all but won, the intensity dropped off to provide the spectators with less action in the final 45 minutes. Bury did start the brighter of the two teams and they should have scored a consolation goal just a few moments into the second period. A long ball was played forward and it found Clarke unmarked in the area, but he inexcusably shanked his shot high and wide to sum up his team’ efforts, and of course, spark jeers from the home crowd.
Following that miss, Bury looked to become increasingly dejected as Coventry sprayed the ball around with a real aura of conviction. During the away team’s brief spells of possession, they failed to carve out any opportunities and the travelling fans made their feelings known. To rub salt in the wounds, Coventry scored again with 68 minutes on the clock to make it 5-0. Yet another pinpoint Cole pass found Armstrong and the Newcastle loanee emphatically flashed the ball past the keeper from 20 yards.
The pain worsened for Bury soon after too as Armstrong netted his 19th goal of the campaign to cap off an incredible showing. It was Fleck who this time played a perfectly weighted through ball to the striker and his powerful drive crossed the line despite the efforts of Lawlor. A few chances were squandered by both teams in the final stages, but the score remained 6-0 at the full-time whistle. It was a day to cherish for Coventry fans, but certainly one to swiftly forget for the travelling contingent.
Well, that was exactly the kind of result that we needed. Both sides were in poor form going into the fixture and this was a huge game for all involved. Fortunately for us, it was City who put in the better display and the 6-0 score line did not flatter us at all. We were absolutely unbelievable. This could be the result that kickstarts our season back into life, and the second automatic promotion spot is now back in reach.
I was thoroughly disappointed with Bury despite their low confidence, but I don’t think anybody would have predicted such a sizeable victory. When we played The Shakers at Gigg Lane back in September, they looked a very good side. Fast forward a few months and they look a completely different outfit, and that was epitomised by the lack of service to the dangerous Leon Clarke. We know how potent he can be.
The former Coventry man had little impact on proceedings as the back four marshalled him out of the game exceptionally well. Although they didn’t have the toughest of times, our defensive unit remained professional to thwart a forward line that do carry a threat. Chris Stokes and Sam Ricketts were as efficient as ever, but the new pairing of Baily Cargill and Jack Stephens deserve a special mention for their ability to play out from the back also.
Of course, to score six goals is no fluke and we were exceptional in the forward areas. We had transformed from a struggling side that were creating very little back into the team that we saw at the start of the season. It was truly a delight to watch that game, and the free-flowing football would have any supporter waxing lyrical. We’ve got to build on this now though. It has to be the catalyst to ensure our promotion push ramps up once more.
In terms of standout performers, it’s difficult to select a man-of-the-match but I think Joe Cole reminded us that class is indeed permanent today. The way in which he controlled the game was extraordinary, picking off passes at will and even throwing in a few roulettes to excite the crowd. He ended up with four assists and that is no mean feat. The entire eleven were brilliant, however, and credit must to go to every one of those in sky blue.
One thing that will undoubtedly be improved is the levels of confidence within the side. Fans will also be optimistic once more and we can make this season a positive one if we stay united as a club. We know that our team is capable of performances like that, we’ve just needed something like this to remind us. The addition of the two new defenders seems to have solidified our back line, and shutting out the opposition gives us a platform to attack at the other end.
Having a week off will hopefully allow us to integrate the new signings into our style of play even more. Steven Pressley’s Fleetwood Town are the next outfit to face us and hopefully we can gain another important three points. On a final note, the send off for Jimmy Hill was remarkable and it capped off a wonderful day. A thank you must be given to the Bury fans who joined in with the celebration of a real legend’s life. It couldn’t have been easy for them given the circumstances on the pitch, but it just goes to show how respected Jimmy is in this game.
God bless you Jimmy.
Reice Charles-Cook – 7
Chris Stokes – 8
Sam Ricketts – 7
Baily Cargill – 8
Jack Stephens – 8
Romain Vincelot – 7
John Fleck – 8
Joe Cole – 9
Jacob Murphy – 7
James Maddison – 8
Adam Armstrong – 8
Coventry City: Charles-Cook, Ricketts (C), Stephens, Cargill, Stokes, Vincelot, Fleck, Murphy (Lameiras (70), Cole, Maddison (Rose 72), Armstrong.
Unused Substitutes: Burge, Ramage, O’Brien, Henderson, Antoine-Fortune.
Bury: Lawlor, Riley, Hussey (P.Clarke 46), Tutte, Etuhu (Lowe 22) , L. Clarke, Mayor, O’Sullivan, Soares, Cameron, Brown (Pugh 46).
Unused Substitutes: Ruddy, Miller, Jones, Mellis.
Attendance: 11,024 (389 away)