Coventry City travelled to Roots Hall on Saturday as they looked to halt a run of four successive league defeats. With only one away victory to their name in SkyBet League One, the Sky Blues weren’t favoured by any bookies. Supporters of the Midlands outfit were hoping for a better outcome than last season’s 3-0 defeat in the same fixture, but Phil Brown’s men ran out victors in routine fashion.
Goals from Anthony Wordsworth, Anton Ferdinand and Stephen McLaughlin ensured the hosts ran into a convincing 3-0 lead. Coventry did reduce the arrears in the dying embers through Daniel Agyei, but that is now five straight defeats for the Sky Blues. The victory sees Southend rise to 8th whilst City remain in the relegation zone, one point behind 20th-placed Bury.
During the opening exchanges of the afternoon, it was Southend who looked the more positive of the two sides and they searched for an early opener. After stifling the initial few attacks, the away defence were caught napping on six minutes as Anthony Wordsworth handed the Shrimpers the lead. Jordan Turnbull and Jordan Willis failed to clear the danger and the midfielder profited to fire an emphatic finish into the far corner from 12 yards.
After falling a goal behind, the Sky Blues looked to haul themselves back level but Marvin Sordell could not breach the home back line with two attempts on 10 minutes. It was instead Southend who continued to threaten and they had the ball in the back of the net once again on 18 minutes – Simon Cox’s celebrations were cut short, however, as he was ruled to be in an offside position. Up the other end just a minute later, Coventry had a chance of their own but Daniel Agyei headed over after meeting a pinpoint Dion Kelly-Evans cross.
As the first period progressed, Mark Venus’ men began to look more confident and a few opportunities were opened up. With 27 minutes played, Turnbull started a promising attack and it ended with Sordell skewing a strike way wide following incisive build-up play. Just four minutes later, Burundi-born Gael Bigirimana was allowed to get two shots away but both were thwarted via solid defending.
On 35 minutes, Mark Oxley was forced to tip the ball acrobatically over the bar after Andy Rose sent a powerful header towards goal. The resulting corner was then drilled in by Willis but Sordell could not direct his attempt on target and it drifted wide. City were then struck with some bad news just before the break as Lee Burge was forced off through injury. Reice Charles-Cook came on in his place but he wasn’t required to make a save as Agyei spurned the final chance of the half up the other end.
Almost immediately after the restart, both sets of players were involved in an altercation following a strong challenge near the touchline involving Michael Timlin and Andre Wright, but the referee managed to defuse the situation. With 53 minutes on the clock, City looked to burst forward and a surging run from Andre Wright created an opening. After cutting inside past a defender, he sent a bending effort inches wide of the far post from 20 yards with Oxley scrambling. It was an even first quarter of an hour, however, as both teams jostled for possession.
Ten minutes later, it was Coventry who attacked again after restricting the hosts and Sordell fired just over from range after marauding forward. With 65 minutes on the clock, Kelly-Evans gave away a needless foul and Southend punished the young full-back by scoring from the resulting free kick. Wordsworth’s delivery found Ryan Leonard at the back post and he elected to head the ball back across goal. United’s captain Anton Ferdinand then pounced to fire home from close range.
Whilst the Sky Blues were still licking their wounds, further damage was added as Southend made it 3-0 on 68 minutes. Stephen McLaughlin drifted inside from the left flank before sending a low drive towards goal from the edge of the box. The ball then cannoned off the post before eventually rolling across the line after it ricocheted off Charles-Cook’s back. The away supporters who were vocal all afternoon then vented their anger with more intent as their players whimpered out on the field.
Lewis Page did send a dipping effort over the bar from 20 yards on 71 minutes, but the Sky Blues looked dejected and downbeat and that allowed Southend to control proceedings. Despite that, substitute Jodi Jones did provide a spark for Coventry late on and a mazy run allowed him to get to the byline on 88 minutes. He then pulled a cross back towards Agyei and the Burnley loanee registered a consolation goal. In stoppage time, the two combined once more but the latter couldn’t find the target this time around and the referee’s whistle was sounded soon afterwards.
Another day, another defeat, another disappointing journey home. It’s getting a bit repetitive now for us City supporters and it’s incredibly difficult to envision us fighting our way out of it. Whilst Mark Venus is taking the majority of the blame, those players out there aren’t exactly covering themselves in glory. Some of his decisions baffle me, but once those players cross that white line they look defeated before a ball is even kicked. Unless they pick their chins up off the floor, we are doomed.
I said on the coach to Roots Hall that if we conceded early we would collapse. Although we did show some signs of promise during the second half of the first period, we were absolutely abysmal following the restart. Dion Kelly-Evans has some potential, but he was a main culprit and he looked way out of his depth. Throughout the entire match, he was being turned inside out and I really felt sorry for him out there – he shouldn’t even be playing yet, he simply isn’t ready for the rigours of League One.
Jordan Willis and Jordan Turnbull both looked weak too and we were far too easy to turn over. I was frustrated with the midfield’s contribution as well and I thought they offered very little protection for our back line. It was arguably our strongest three in that area out there and they were outmuscled and bypassed all too often. Bar a positive 20 minutes or so in the first half, they failed to mount attacks too and the forwards had little service as a result. I firmly believe these players are far better than they are showing at the moment, we just need to turn it around very quickly and that won’t happen until Venus steps down.
As far as the front line are concerned, Marvin Sordell put himself about as usual and he did look determined to make an impact. But, once again, he was played out on the wing. I don’t understand that at all – he’s the one player within our side who is capable of finding the net. Maybe Venus sees Daniel Agyei as the more imposing figure, but he failed to impress yet again despite his late consolation. Andre Wright looked better than he has of late, but he didn’t cause Southend too many problems.
One thing that depresses me more than anything on the field, however, is the hostile atmosphere amongst our own supporters. I know plenty of fans that are losing any belief they once had and they are giving up as a consequence – it’s sickening. Our club seems to be plunging towards a slow and painful death and we are helpless. We now go into a tough fixture against Sheffield United with five consecutive defeats to our name and I can’t see us halting that. Protests are planned and rightly so – our club is a mess. I’m not entirely sure any manager could fix this.
Lee Burge – 6
Dion Kelly-Evans – 4
Jordan Willis – 5
Jordan Turnbull – 4
Lewis Page – 5
Andy Rose – 5
Chris McCann – 5
Gael Bigirimana – 5
Marvin Sordell – 6
Andre Wright – 5
Daniel Agyei – 4
Reice Charles-Cook – 5
Jodi Jones – 5
Callum Maycock – 5
Southend United: Oxley, Demetriou, Thompson, Ferdinand (C) (Sokolik 87), Timlin, O’Neill, Wordsworth, Leonard, McLoughlin, Cox, Ranger (Fortune 83).
Unused Substitutes: Smith, White, King, McGlashan, Bridge.
Coventry City: Burge (Charles-Cook 45), Di. Kelly-Evans, Willis (C), Turnbull, Page, Rose, McCann (Maycock 77), Bigirimana, Sordell (Jones 74), Wright, Agyei.
Unused Substitutes: Gadzhev, Reid, G. Thomas, Tudgay.
Attendance: 6,430 (406 away)