Coventry City prolonged their inevitable relegation to League Two by beating play-off chasing Peterborough United at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday. In the sunshine, the players put in a fine performance and Ruben Lameiras’ second half strike handed the Sky Blues a deserved three points. Lee Burge was required to save a penalty in the first period, but he remained largely untroubled in a game that provided great entertainment.
Following a fairly dull opening few exchanges, the Sky Blues began to settle and Ruben Lameiras went a Luke McGee fingertip save away from opening the scoring on 7 minutes. The Portuguese midfielder then floated in the resulting corner and Jordan Turnbull saw a looping header hooked off the line. Peterborough then enjoyed a spell of their own as Marcus Maddison got on the end of a lofted through ball. With 13 minutes played, he then drove towards goal before forcing Lee Burge into a low save at his near post.
Despite both teams matching each other in the midfield area early on, City’s duo of Ben Stevenson and Gael Bigirimana began to dictate the tempo of the game. Mark Robins’ men looked a threat on both wings and they kept probing forward, but the next real chance didn’t come about until the 27th minute. Stuart Beavon acrobatically met an aerial ball with a spectacular overhead kick and it cannoned off the crossbar. Just minutes later, Lameiras watched a deflected strike career just past the post before Clarke was denied twice by the visiting keeper.
It was perhaps unlucky for City, but the lack of a finisher up front meant the lead wasn’t taken. Against the run of play, Peterborough were then awarded a penalty on 39 minutes as Martin Samuelsen was brought down in the area after displaying some neat footwork. Craig Mackail-Smith stepped up to take the spot-kick but Burge thwarted him with an outstretched leg to spark celebrations amongst the home supporters. It would’ve certainly been harsh on City if it had been converted.
City needed to carry their positivity into the second half and Ruben Lameiras tucked away a neat finish on 51 minutes to put his team ahead. He is a player that I have often criticised due to his lack of physicality, but there is no doubting that he possesses great technical ability. He had one of his better games in a Coventry shirt and fully deserved his goal, but he has to be far more consistent. Robins does seem to like him, however, and I suspect he will be offered a fresh deal in the summer. Having this run of games looks to have aided him.
Just four minutes after taking the lead, a pinpoint Peterborough cross handed Samuelsen a great opportunity but he spurned it from close range. Shortly after the hour mark Junior Morias, the standout player for the visitors, rocketed a strike against the post with an effort that came out of nothing. That brief scare aside, the Sky Blues coped very well defensively to restrict Grant McCann’s men. I was sceptical about Kevin Foley starting, but he had a very good game in his natural right-back position, as did the rest of the back four.
During the final 30 minutes, the atmosphere ramped up and a deafening rendition of ‘Twist and Shout’ echoed around the stadium. Down on the pitch, the Coventry players responded and that enabled them to see the match out in a professional manner. Burge was forced to save a Morias header on 82 minutes, but that was the only clear-cut chance the Sky Blues gave up. The introduction of Jodi Jones did seem to aid City’s forward play and it could’ve been a wider margin of victory if we had taken our chances.
It’s just pleasing to say that we were excellent to a man once again and if we had played like that all season, we would be nowhere near the foot of League One. The manager has made simple changes and they are working – he has clearly inspired some confidence into the group. As supporters, we are responding to the improvements too and the only question we all want to ask is why the club didn’t appoint him earlier in the season.
Players are fighting for new deals now and they would’ve done themselves no harm with the way they’ve performed over the last few weeks. I have said all season that the technical ability is there, but we have been mismanaged and that is why we are heading for the drop. Our supporters deserve a lot better because they proved how much this club means to them today – that was definitely the most noise we have produced for a long time. It was a fantastic day all round; brilliant weather, top atmosphere and three points. What more can you ask for in the face of adversity?
Lee Burge – 7
Kevin Foley – 7
Nathan Clarke – 8
Jordan Turnbull – 8
Ryan Haynes – 7
George Thomas – 7
Gael Bigirimana – 9
Ben Stevenson – 8
Kyel Reid – 7
Ruben Lameiras – 8
Stuart Beavon – 8
Jodi Jones – 7
Callum Reilly – 7
Coventry City: Burge, Foley, Clarke (C), Turnbull, Haynes, G. Thomas, Bigirimana, Stevenson (Reilly 69), Reid (Jones 45), Lameiras, Beavon.
Unused Substitutes: Charles-Cook, Stokes, Di. Kelly-Evans, Tudgay, Folivi.
Peterborough United: McGee, Smith (C), Bostwick, Baldwin, Maddison, Mackail-Smith (Nichols 67), Da Silva Lopes, Binnom-Williams (Taylor 70), Samuelsen, Morias, Grant (Forrester 67).
Unused Substitutes: Tyler, Hughes, Tafazolli, Inman.
Attendance: 10,551 (849 away)