The Sky Blues of Coventry City hosted Colchester United at the Ricoh Arena on Tuesday night. Last time out, Tony Mowbray’s side fell 3-1 versus Peterborough United in front of the Sky cameras and they would be looking to avenge that defeat. Meanwhile, The U’s enjoyed a morale-boosting 4-1 win over struggling Doncaster Rovers to move off the bottom of the League One table.
Kevin Keen’s men looked to have utilised their confidence in the first half and they went 1-0 up on 18 minutes. After taking the lead, the away supporters witnessed their side adopt an incredibly defensive approach but it paid dividends as they thwarted City. Boos echoed around the stadium at full-time as Coventry slipped to another defeat that meant their self-implosion continued and a play-off place looks ever bleaker.
The game kicked off and the opening exchanges looked to be very scrappy as both teams failed to keep possession of the ball. It was The Sky Blues who created the first opening but Colchester defended a cross competently after Jodi Jones, Martin Lorentzson and Marc-Antione Fortune combined down the right. With 5 minutes on the clock, the visitors put in a dangerous delivery of their own as Elliot Lee drilled the ball across the face. Nobody was there to connect though, allowing City to breathe again.
Following their first sight of goal, The U’s looked to stamp their authority on the match and a bout of possession followed. Despite keeping the ball well, they failed to test Reice Charles-Cook in the Coventry goal. It was the hosts who registered the first real attempt on the opposition goal in the 16th minute, but to the home crowd’s annoyance, Jacob Murphy’s effort sailed harmlessly over the bar after Jones had exploited the space.
Just 3 minutes later and Colchester were ahead. Lee caused havoc down the left wing and he beat Lorentzson with sheer pace. His low cross was then parried into the area by Charles-Cook and Gavin Massey reacted the quickest to tap into an unguarded net. City could have levelled the scores instantaneously as a succession of chances opened up, but Jones flashed his effort wide before John Fleck saw a strike from distance held by the keeper.
The next period of play saw both outfits scrap for the ball once more, and Coventry’s failure to press the away side allowed them to look comfortable. City did try and muster a few attacks but nothing of note was carved out. It took until 31 minutes for the hosts to look dangerous, and it was some energetic play from Jones that started the move. He used tidy feet to beat a defender before finding Lorentzson in the area. The Swedish full-back then rolled the ball to Murphy but the former Colchester loanee was denied by a superb Tom Eastman block.
With 43 minutes on the clock, the home side were given a golden opportunity to pull themselves level as they were awarded a penalty. Romain Vincelot was tripped in the area after Fortune showed good strength, but Murphy’s penalty was poor and Elliott Parish got down well to save. That proved to be the final chance of the opening period and the referee’s whistle was sounded soon after to send City in trailing.
As Coventry looked to claw their way back into the match, they started brightly in the second half. Some intricate passing between Murphy and Joe Cole saw the previous spray a ball out to the right wing where Lorentzson occupied space. He then flashed a cross towards the far post but nobody was there to attack the tempting delivery. Jodi Jones then squandered another opening on 49 minutes as he fired a strike wide after working room to let fly.
The best chance of the half then came about on 54 minutes as controlled build-up saw Sam Ricketts pick up the ball in an advanced position. The defender’s low cross found Vincelot but the Frenchman saw his stab towards goal blocked. Colchester began to retreat into a deeper position and their comfort in defending allowed them to break away on 70 minutes. George Moncur set Alex Gilbey through with a perfectly weighted ball but Charles-Cook saved smartly.
Jones looked menacing again for City on 75 minutes and substitute George Thomas teed him up to fire over from range. Marcus Tudgay, who was also introduced from the bench, saw a chance fly over too after he got under a looping ball to volley harmlessly off target. As The Sky Blues searched for what proved to be an elusive goal, the travelling side had the final chance of note on 83 minutes as Gilbey tested Charles-Cook who saved with his feet. The final whistle was then blown shortly after to send the Colchester fans home in celebratory mood.
Well, that result has effectively put any distant dreams of attaining a play-off position to bed. The performance we put in against a poor Colchester side wasn’t anywhere near the level of a team chasing promotion. To tell the truth, it was a game between two lacklustre sets of players. United came to the Ricoh on the back of a 4-1 win versus Doncaster, and despite that undeniably providing them with a boost in confidence, we didn’t even trouble them.
The posssssion statistics in the second period tell a lie really as to how the game panned out. Yes we may have endured longer periods with the ball, but we never looked like finding the net. Parish remained a spectator throughout and I’m sure he hasn’t had an easier game this season. The Essex side have conceded 87 goals this term – a dismal record by any means – but we couldn’t even muster a meaningful effort on goal.
Whether you put low confidence, Mowbray’s tactics or anything else down as the reason for the performance, it was certainly dismal. The goal we conceded was easily avoidable yet again, but we simply aren’t good enough defensively. Since Reda Johnson, Ben Turner and Baily Cargill picked up serious injuries, we have struggled to shut out even the weakest of attacks and we were carved open far too easily.
I have never felt so frustrated as a City fan in my life. Where have my team gone that were dismantling sides effortlessly at the start of the season? I know we’ve been taught not to get our hopes up as Coventry supporters, and once again, I understand why! From league favourites to a side that looks like relegation fodder. Im just glad now that we have enough points on the board to ensure we can’t be plunged into a relegation fight.
Despite our season looking all but over, all I want to see now is a few performances that restore a bit of pride. I’ll never boo my team, but at the minute, I am truly dejected. Putting a finger on what has led to our decline is difficult, but it’s tough to take nonetheless. I’ll still be at Gillingham on Saturday but I’m not expecting us to be travelling home with anything to our name. Hopefully the players can surprise us and put in a good performance.
If you look at the positives, I guess Adam Armstrong will return from international duty with another England goal under his belt. However, he hasn’t received any service of late. The one bright spark from this outing was Jodi Jones’ willingness to run at defenders and make things happen. With our aim of promotion on hold until next season, at least we are starting to build a team.
We don’t deserve this.
Reice Charles-Cook – 6
Sam Ricketts – 5
Jack Stephens – 6
Aaron Martin – 6
Martin Lorentzson – 6
John Fleck – 5
Romain Vincelot – 5
Jacob Murphy – 5
Joe Cole – 6
Jodi Jones – 7
Marc-Antione Fortune – 5
Marcus Tudgay – 5
Ruben Lameiras – 5
George Thomas – 5
Coventry City: Charles-Cook, Lorentzson (Thomas 70), Martin, Stephens, Ricketts, Vincelot, Fleck, Jones, Murphy (Lameiras 63), Cole, Fortuné (Tudgay 60).
Unused Substitutes: Addai, Di. Kelly-Evans, Hunt, Bigirimana.
Colchester United: Parish, Garvan (C), Edwards (Brindley 46), Gilbey, Porter, Moncur (Harney 89), Massey, Lee (Lapsile 65), Eastman, Kent, Shorey.
Unused Substitutes: Barnes, Wright, Bonne, Ambrose.
Attendance: 10,027 (180 away)