Coventry 0-1 Millwall ~ Match Report

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So, the penultimate away day at Coventry was meant to be a defining one for our season but Mr Jackett’s boys had a different agenda and by the time this visit came around we were safe from relegation, unlike the poor patrons of the Ricoh Stadium who look set to have the most splendid football ground in division 1 next term.

Being sent to Coventry is usually an ostracising act for a culprit to be shunned by his (or her) peers for carrying out a despicable act of some description, but in truth, Coventry has much to be admired and not a place of unspeakable horrors that no one wants to go to.

How, for instance, can you dislike somewhere that was responsible for two tone and the Specials and the Selecter? And that iconic British film “The Italian Job” used the Coventry sewers in place of the Turin ones to race the mini coopers through, wonderful stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree?

The thought of that Mercian Lady parading her goods around the city on the back of a horse should be held in the esteem it so richly deserves, I mean, naked ladies on horseback should be positively encouraged at every opportunity, yes?

Well anyway, what I am getting at is the Coventry is a decent away trip, only a couple of hours from London and an easy away game even on a Tuesday night so it was into the Bonemobile and off up the M1/M6 for the last time this season (unless we get lost going to Ipswich...) and the traffic was very kind to us as well making even the poxy M1 road works (nearly 20 miles of them, I kid you not) bearable.

We parked up in a car park just off the M6 (paid for on line before we left, very modern and very organised) and made off towards the stadium. We passed some very decent looking houses and we were just commenting on how nice they looked when there was a gap in between that housed pigs. I am not referring to a police station en route but a genuine pig sty, right in the middle of a row of houses. How strange (and slightly malodorous, it has to be stated) to find pigs in such a location. I half expected Richard Briers and Felicity Kendall to pop out and say hello and offer us a bacon sarnie...

Sorry, I am digressing again... we got the ground and made our way through the automated turnstiles that still had a bloke on the other side offering advice on how to use the bar code readers and went in search of sustenance. We found this in the shape of a meat and potato pie and hot coffee. Now the coffee was perfectly acceptable but the pie...I can’t say for sure what type of potato was used and I am too frightened to hazard a guess at where the meat came from, suffice it to say, Sweeney Todd’s pie fillings as sold by Mrs Lovett might only be just on the next rung of the ladder below these fuckers.

My granddad had a saying that he probably nicked from Charles Dickens “Only eat a pie if you know the lady that made it and are quite sure it aint full of cat”. Wise words indeed and ones I wished me and MrsB had taken on board.

The Ricoh was built by Polish coal miners back in 2005 and it holds just over 32,000. I reckon they are going to have trouble filling this in the future as officially 13,974 were in here for this match but it looked no more than about 11,000. They were, of course, founder members of the Premier league and before that were stalwarts of the old 1st division but times have changed drastically for them in recent years and they looked doomed.

There were about 600 Millwall fans though which isn’t too bad all things considered and we were making ourselves heard despite the inane drum banging cretins from Coventry who are clearly still in denial over their plight.

Mr Jackett had one change made from the winning side from Saturday, Robbo was out, replaced by Ward so the line up was as follows: Taylor, Craig (Capt.), Lowry, Ward, Smith, Henry, Abdou, Wright, Barron, Kane & Keogh.

Referee Linnington got us going and we were up first with a cutting attack that had the home side straight on the back foot. A good passage of play involving Kane, Keogh and Henry saw the latter let fly with a stinging shot that had ‘keeper Murphy struggling to collect. Then Harry Kane worked himself some space and let fly from distance and ‘keeper Murphy looked decidedly unhappy with his defence as the ball whistled wide.

We were playing at a furious pace and there was no quarter given as we carved open the home side at will but we just couldn’t find the way through to goal but for all our dominance it was Coventry who should have opened the scoring when they worked the ball along the wing and crossed into the box only for Platt to miss with his head with the goal beckoning.

Kane again tried an effort from distance, this time skidding a shot low across the turf but it didn’t trouble the ‘keeper this time.

As the half progressed the home side got a bit more urgent with their play and this brought Maik Taylor into the game. He really does look like a safe pair of hands, lining up the defence for free kicks and always being in the right place to collect them.

Coventry forced a couple of corners but they were effectively dealt with by our resolute defence and even when Coventry did garnish a chance the result was always either a tame effort of a wild shot well wide of Taylor’s goal. Taylor then produced a fine finger tip save from a set piece free kick that was heading for the top corner.

Taylor was soon in the thick of it again around the thirty minute mark when a seemingly harmless looping ball fell kindly to McDonald he caught it on the hop and it took some agile keeping from Taylor to keep the ball out of the net.

Kane and Keogh were still working the Coventry back four well enough but could only produce a series of half chances that were comfortably dealt with by the home side. Just before half time James Henry robbed the ball in midfield and danced down the wing and hit a ferocious cross across their flanks and with Kane and Keogh both waiting it was frustrating to see Coventry defender Crainie intercept with a spectacular diving header.

The half finished with a portentous header from Lowry who just missed the target from a James Henry cross.

As the half time whistle blew the 0-0 score line was about right for what we had witnessed.

Trotter replaced Wright for the start of the second half as Coventry realised that the next 45 could be make or break for them. They piled forward but they were not getting any change out of our back four.

McDonald was the first of them to get a sniff as he turned Ward and fired his shot wide of Taylor’s post and minutes later it was McDonald again blustering his way into our box and as he swept past Ward again he was faced with Taylor coming at him and as he pushed the ball to get past the Lion’s ‘keeper, he went down under duress and the ref had no option but to point to the spot.

Taylor steadied himself and prepared for the penalty. The home fans, mocking us before the ball was kicked, were soon stunned into silence as McSheffrey took the kick and Taylor dived to his right and made a fine save. It was our turn now to mock the home fans, and mock we did.

You could almost hear some of the Coventry fans saying to each other “we’re going to pay for that miss” and guess what, they most certainly did. Ward was replaced by Dunne on the hour mark and the much maligned defender was the catalyst for the opening goal about five minutes later.
We had won a corner and as the ball was whipped in by Barron it was cleared out to Smith. Smith took his time and re fed the ball back to Barron who quickly found Kane in some space. Kane held on to the ball as Dunne went on the overlap and he hit a perfect cross into the box where Lowry was waiting and he met the ball full on with a glancing header that flew into the back of the net. Much joy was had by all in the away end.

Coventry went hell for leather after this but their attack lacked any guile or any guidance and we looked to hit them on the break and we oh so nearly got goal number two just in that fashion as we broke quickly from defence when Trotter hit one of his slide rule passes straight into the path of Barron who started galloping towards goal but he was caught although the ball slipped straight into the path of Keogh who had matched the breakaway run, he hit a side footed effort that curled the wrong side of the post and the chance was gone.

We defended admirably as all but the kitchen sink came at us but poor old Coventry failed to step up to the mark and at the final whistle we were the ones cheering and singing as we celebrated an amazing fourth win on the spin.


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What an end to the season and with two games remaining the quest now is to win both and we can finish above Crystal Palace, now that is something worth going for!

Ipswich first, another easy away day so I expect to see lots of you there!
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