Written by Matt Stevenson
With Watford’s win, the previous night effectively slamming the door shut on our automatic promotion hopes but opening a window into the play-offs by beating Reading we should be optimistic heading into the game against Coventry who are languishing in 20th place. We’ve won the last three, they have won 2 in 8, we finally seem to be able to name with a fair degree of certainty the starting 11 and the formation and are beginning to score more freely. Yet, this is the type of banana skin we’ve slipped on previously, so until we are two goals up, I’ll be nervous. There was only the one change with Wilshere in for Pearson, potentially for more creativity if the Sky Blues park the bus, although Pearson must feel aggrieved to be left on the bench. Coventry have regularly played three at the back, so the game could turn on how much Danjuma and Brooks can get behind the wide midfield men, or whether they are forced to defend. It could be very interesting if Danjuma has instructions to stay upfield.
No one expected this start. A clearance was taken down by Solanke, who used his strength to turn his man and pay Brooks into space on the right. A lovely ball played with the outside of his left foot curled agonisingly (for Coventry) past the centre-back to leave Danjuma with a simple finish. 22 seconds gone, and 1-0. The irritation with iFollow is the replays, we didn’t see Wilshere lose the ball and clip O’Hare as he raced through, and was lucky to escape a booking, but the ref owes us after the Lerma send off versus Luton, which appeared a catalyst for Tindall’s departure.. We did see the free-kick which was placed low inside Begovic’s right-hand post to equalise within 3 minutes. The game was end-to-end, Walker had a chance for Coventry, Brooks shot wide, as did Danjuma after good work from Solanke. Coventry was most dangerous from set-pieces throwing all three centre-halves forward, and Kelly was fortunate to escape following an air-kick. A good 1-2 between Brooks and Billing was followed by another 1-2 with Danjuma and Billing with Danjuma running into the edge of the six-yard box, and beating the keeper at the near post. The keeper will be very disappointed, when I have to go in goal at six-a-side I cling onto the post knowing the stick I’d get if it went in at the near post. Billing hadn’t been in the game much but had come to life in the middle of the first half. We had most of the pressure, and Brooks drove in a dangerous free-kick just before the interval, in what was AFCB’s most threatening/entertaining half in a long while, maybe even in 2021. A telling point would be the conviction that the Cherries come out with during the second half. I was hoping we’d go for the throat, rather than attempt to control the game knowing we are ahead.
The first bit of action was an excellent block from Carter Vickers to stop Walker. Before a heavy collision saw the game stopped for about 8 minutes due to an injury to Pask, who was stretchered off. The game was tense, and even, until in the 68th minute, Danjuma powered past his man and put in an inviting cross with his left foot that bounced up at Brooks, who guided it back where the keeper had run from to make it 3-1. Pearson was immediately told to come on for the disappointing Wilshere, to stiffen up the midfield. We managed to control the game fairly comfortably, Solanke had a reasonable chance, and in the first minute of the 12 additional minutes, we broke again. Pearson cut through the middle, played Smith in, who cut it back. Pearson shot and via a deflection, which may have been an own-goal, but may have been Solanke, it ended up in the back of the net. It allowed players to get a mini-rest before Huddersfield, and get some minutes for Surridge, Riquelme and Anthony. The game petered out, Coventry knew they were beaten and we became a little disjointed with all the changes up top. 4-1, we would have taken that before the game.
Man of the match against Coventry
Begovic: 7. Didn’t have much to do, but claimed a few corners to relieve pressure
Kelly: 7. Another good performance, we, at last, have a settled back four.
Cook: 7. See Kelly, although a couple of stray passes
Carter-Vickers: 8. Only marginally better than the rest of the defence, but he is growing on me each week. I wonder if we could have challenged the top two if he hadn’t been injured for a lot of the early season.
Smith: 8 Made some good breaks down the right and timely interceptions. He needs to play this well to hold off Stacey.
Lerma: 7. Quietly effective. The team would certainly suffer if Jeff wasn’t there
Wilshere: 5. Disappointing, and apparently at fault for the free-kick for their goal. I hope he is carrying a knock rather than his legs have gone but didn’t manage to influence the play and looked off the pace.
Billing: 7. Faded in and out, but a lovely one-two to put Arnie in for the second.
Danjuma: 9 (MOTM). Arnie was excellent today, with 2 goals and a fine assist. We need to keep him fit and in this form.
Solanke: 8 Had a big effect on the game in the first half, winning the ball and playing in the wingers. Faded a little, but hopefully is awarded the last goal.
Brooks: 8. Much better than versus Blackburn and hopefully has shaken off the rust. A well-taken goal and an assist
Pearson: 7. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t start at Huddersfield. May also be awarded the last goal if it hit the defender and not Solanke.
Stacey / Surridge / Riquelme / Anthony. No marks, not enough time on the pitch.
wimborne cherries wrote…
Great report and I agree with all the ratings!
The only negative to come from today in my opinion is Wilshere performance. All he does is come deep and play a short pass. I was hoping for balls over the top and little dinks which other players couldn’t see.
He’s been disappointing so far for me, plus I thought Pearson was really good when he came on, always looks to play the ball forward.
I know he hasn’t played an awful lot of football but it looks like his legs have gone. – Join the conversation, click here.