Coventry City registered their third consecutive home triumph on Tuesday night as they defeated Danny Wilson’s Chesterfield at the Ricoh Arena. Jordan Willis’ opening goal set the Sky Blues on their way before Andy Rose scored his second goal in as many matches late on to seal a 2-0 win.
After a fine October saw the Midlands side climb out of the relegation places, Mark Venus’ men now sit in 18th position, just five points shy of a play-off spot. Lewis Page was dismissed after picking up two yellow cards, however, and the full-back will now face a suspension. Chesterfield, meanwhile, lie 23rd and without a goal to their name in their last six SkyBet League One fixtures.
Following a few stray passes in the opening moments, the Sky Blues mounted the first attack on three minutes and the returning Jodi Jones was hauled down outside the area. He took the resulting free kick, but it sailed way over Ryan Fulton’s crossbar. Up the other end with ten minutes on the clock, Chesterfield put together a neat passing move that led to a corner. Jay O’Shea swung a delivery towards Ian Evatt at the back post, but his header only found the clutches of Coventry keeper Lee Burge.
Just a minute later, the home side charged forward again and Kyel Reid sent a strike wide of the target after Jones rolled the ball into his path. Those chances provided the only action of a dull first 20 minutes, but the visitors began to look the more threatening outfit going forward. With 22 minutes played, a mistake from City captain Jordan Willis handed the Spireites possession in a promising position. A low cross was then fizzed in and Gboly Aryibi brought a reaction save out of Burge. The rebound was then drilled towards goal by Kristian Dennis but Willis spared his blushes by making a heroic block on the line.
After that hectic passage of play, both sides jostled for possession and chances became limited once more. Jones did create an opportunity on 29 minutes after he cut inside expertly. His drive goalwards was then thwarted by Evatt, however, as the defender bravely put his head in front of the strike to alleviate the danger. West Ham United loanee Lewis Page looked to create something from the other flank, but nobody was on hand inside the area to profit from his accurate crosses.
In the final ten minutes of the first period, Coventry began to control the ball with a little more confidence but they still looked susceptible to the counter-attack. Daniel Agyei almost latched on to a Jones delivery for the Sky Blues on 39 minutes, but Gary Liddle did well to get in front of the forward. A swift break then fashioned a chance for the away side with 42 minutes played, but Burge did well to clutch an O’Shea effort to his chest.
As the home supporters demanded more of their team, the Sky Blues seemed to be rejuvenated at the start of the second half as they looked to break the deadlock. With 48 minutes on the clock, Page whipped in another enticing delivery and Marcus Tudgay’s looping header forced the Chesterfield goalkeeper into action. Eight minutes later, the travelling outfit created an opening against the run of play but Ched Evans skewed a drive wide from distance after O’Shea found him in space.
Just after the hour mark, it was Coventry’s pressure that led to a strike on goal as Kyel Reid showed quick feet on the edge of the area. The winger’s low strike was well stopped by Fulton, however, with the keeper getting down quickly to parry the ball away from danger. More incisive counter-attacking play then led to two Evans chances in quick succession on 63 minutes, but Burge was equal to both efforts.
As frustration continued to grow amongst the home supporters, City were victims of overplaying at times. The anger turned to relief on 69 minutes, however, as Willis fired Coventry ahead. A Gael Bigirimana corner initially fell to Jordan Turnbull and he then found his defensive partner who rifled a finish beyond the goalkeeper. Following the opener, Chesterfield were forced to search for an equaliser and this extra space allowed the hosts to control possession and mount attacks themselves.
With the game ebbing and flowing, it looked as if it the score would remain the same upon the full-time whistle. That wasn’t the case, however, as a quick break involving substitute Marvin Sordell led to City doubling their lead on 81 minutes. The striker found Page out wide and his low cross was swept into the back of the net by Andy Rose who came off the bench just minutes prior to scoring. No more real chances were carved out in the remaining minutes, but there was time for a red card as Page was dismissed for a late challenge that warranted a second caution.
Going into this game as ‘favourites’, the pressure was heaped firmly on Coventry City shoulders. Whether that affected the performance or not, nobody knows, but it certainly wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing display in comparison to those over we have witnessed over the recent weeks. However, we showed great grit and determination to grind out another result. We are now a fantastic 14 games unbeaten at the Ricoh Arena in all competitions – maybe calling it a ‘fortress’ isn’t a novelty anymore.
During the first period, nothing out on the pitch inspired me at all bar one thing – the fact we hadn’t conceded. You could clearly see why the Spireites haven’t found the net for some time. Ched Evans didn’t have the influence on proceedings that I thought he would have, but the rest of the visiting front line offered little support. We were left wanting defensively on a few occasions, but a combination of Lee Burge saves and last-ditch blocks meant a clean sheet was earned.
The Coventry keeper had one of his better games and he commanded his area with a great deal of composure. He was called into action a little too often though, mainly due to Chesterfield outnumbering us down the right flank. Whilst Jodi Jones offers blistering pace going forward, defensively he is incredibly naive and Jamie Sterry was left exposed time after time. The Newcastle United loanee put in a decent shift himself, but Jones did him no favours. However, he’s a 19-year old lad and his potential is massive – he just needs to be protected and coached in the right way.
Kyel Reid and Lewis Page had more joy down the other flank, but the aforementioned player can be very frustrating to watch. His ability to drive past a defender and wriggle his way into advanced positions is superb, but his deliveries often lack quality. He did cause problems, however, and I think he deserves a run in the side. Page has improved recently too, and in contrast to Reid, some of his crosses into the box tonight were excellent. It’s just a shame he will miss the trip to Morecambe at the weekend after being sent off in stoppage time.
On the whole, I am very happy with how things are going at the moment. I haven’t quite forgotten the dismal start to the season just yet, but I am starting to believe once more. We’ve shown we can win games scrappily and we’ve also shown we can outplay teams. If we had held on to the lead at Walsall last weekend, we would sit one win off sixth spot after tonight’s win. It seems we’ve turned a corner and I hope this run continues.
Lee Burge – 9
Jamie Sterry – 7
Jordan Willis – 8
Jordan Turnbull – 7
Lewis Page – 7
Ben Stevenson – 7
Gael Bigirimana – 7
Jodi Jones – 5
Kyel Reid – 7
Daniel Agyei – 5
Marcus Tudgay – 5
Ruben Lameiras – 6
Andy Rose – 7
Marvin Sordell – 6
Coventry City: Burge, Sterry, Willis (C), Turnbull, Page, Stevenson, Bigirimana, Jones (Lameiras 67), Reid, Agyei (Sordell 76), Tudgay (Rose 67).
Unused Substitutes: Charles-Cook, Ricketts, Maycock, Wright.
Chesterfield: Fulton, Donohue, Liddle (C), Evatt, Hird, O’Neil, Dimaio, O’Shea (Mitchell 87), Ariyibi, Dennis (German 77), Evans.
Unused Substitutes: Allinson, Nolan, Anderson, Maguire, Graham.
Attendance: 7,491 (217 away)