Russell Slade took charge of his first Checkatrade Trophy match of his Coventry City career on Tuesday night as the Sky Blues defeated Brighton & Hove Albion U21’s at the Ricoh Arena. Goals from Ruben Lameiras, George Thomas and Ryan Haynes ensured it was a comfortable 3-0 victory for the hosts and they now progress into the quarter-final stage.
To be honest, I haven’t paid much attention to this competition, but seeing as I was at home as opposed to university, I thought I may as well turn up and cast an eye over some of our fringe players. Whilst it wasn’t the most entertaining fixture I have ever witnessed, it proved fairly routine for a City side who were equally as youthful as the opposition. We dominated the game from start to finish and if it wasn’t for an inspired Brighton goalkeeper in the form of Robert Sanchez, it could have been a much wider margin of victory.
All three of our goals were of high enough quality and we looked threatening going forward. Stuart Beavon was instrumental and he provided a great link between the midfield and attack. He failed to get on the scoresheet, but we was involved in the build-up for the majority of our chances with his awareness and hold-up capabilities. George Thomas worked hard alongside him and I was pleased that he found the net – his effort is relentless.
One thing we have been anticipating for a long time was the return of Chris Stokes and he had a positive first 45 minutes before being replaced. He and the rest of the back four weren’t tested too much, but he did the basics well and it was just good to see him back in a City shirt. Cian Harries, fresh from his trial at Liverpool, was a standout performer with his class on the ball. In terms of bringing it out from the back and playing through the lines, he is a top player and fingers crossed we can keep hold of him for now. However, I do believe he is destined for great things and it’s inevitable that he will depart at some point.
Despite the overall display being very positive, I thought I would share my view on Vladimir Gadzhev. Clearly, having played Europa League football as well as representing Bulgaria, there is talent in there somewhere. However, in a match that he should really stand out in, he failed to impress. He had little influence on proceedings and his passing at times was very questionable. I don’t know why he isn’t performing, but it’s a shame. Slade won’t be forced into selecting him after tonight, so I don’t know what the future holds for him – that was definitely a chance missed.
On the whole, it was a fairly easy watch and it was good to see us remain organised and limit Brighton. The visitors did look lacklustre, however, and I feel for the 60 away fans who made the long journey. I think Reice Charles-Cook had one meaningful save to make all night and that just illustrates our dominance. Of course, we all would have preferred three points in the league, but wins breed confidence and hopefully success in this trophy can help with that. Plus, it’s providing our youngsters a platform to showcase their talents and push for a place in the starting eleven.
Reice Charles-Cook – 7
Dion Kelly-Evans – 7
Chris Stokes – 7
Cian Harries – 8
Ryan Haynes – 7
Vladimir Gadzhev – 6
Gael Bigirimana – 7
Jodi Jones – 7
Ruben Lameiras – 6
George Thomas – 7
Stuart Beavon – 8
Jack Finch – 6
Marcus Tudgay – 6
Ben Stevenson – 6
Coventry City: Charles-Cook, Di. Kelly-Evans, Stokes (Finch 45), Harries, Haynes, Gadzhev (Stevenson 76), Bigirimana, Jones, Lameiras, G. Thomas, Beavon (C) (Tudgay 59).
Unused Substitutes: Burge, Maycock, Rose, Reilly.
Brighton & Hove Albion U23’s: Sanchez, Rosenior (White 45), Hall, Barclay, Cox, Hutchinson (C) (Ward 59), Tilley, Ince, Molumby, Bjordal, Tighe (Mandroiu 68).
Unused Substitutes: McGill, Cadman, Barnett, Davies.
Attendance: 2,085 (60 away)