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Vital Verdict – AFCB v Coventry City

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Written by kirsikka

Injury-hit, on the back of a couple of shaky performances and against a team having an excellent season this looked a tough proposition on paper.

A slow start morphed into possession dominance without creating too much, although the slick passing moves were back which was good to see. Snagging that goal before half time was crucial as we were then really comfortable in the second period and deserved the second goal.

Amazing how technical a team we look with Kilkenny, L Cook and Christie all in the midfield.

It looked like game over but then…

Jack, Jack, Jack. So much good work undone by that terrible backpass. Until then Lerma had looked incredibly accomplished in the central CB role in a three.

Parker deserves a lot of credit for setting the starting team up as he did since it worked.

However, questions should be asked about the tactical reaction to the sending off. There were a lot of confused players out there who kept going to check what they were meant to be doing.

Even when they did get the message, it never looked comfortable and, unlucky as it was, it ended up costing us.

A point hard-fought and hard-won that should have been a simple three. Plus a match against Fulham missing Lerma ahead. We badly need some of the walking wounded back.

Positive performances:

Stacey: Undoubtedly the sending off lies at his feet for a hospital pass but that aside, he was a lung-busting menace, up and down the flank. I don’t want to damn him for that one incident when there was so much else that was good.

S Cook: First match of the season and didn’t look even slightly rusty. Great to see him back in the red and black

Anthony: After a disappointing showing midweek he was all over Coventry today: up front, in defence and the left and right. Probably his best match yet.

Room for improvement:

Solanke: Sometimes you need a striker to score. Sometimes you need them to just get hold of the ball and make it stick. Win cheap free-kicks. He wasn’t really in it after the sending off, missed header aside.

fritter added…

When the going gets tough, Lewis Cook struggles. He isn’t a digging in type of player.

We surrendered space immediately we went down to ten men. We handed them the initiative. There was no organisation and no outlet. We made it easy for them. That’s down to Parker.

Man of the match against Coventry



L. Cook

L. Cook





Your say…

Sandman2 wrote…

I know there are more important things in life than football, but that was the most wound-up and angry I have felt walking out of Dean Court for a long time.

After 70 mins and leading 2-0 we had complete control over a team that has spent most of the season in the play-off positions and were touted as promotion rivals. Then we had yet another second-half collapse, this time following a red card, and ended up throwing away all the hard work. I would like to see a replay, but from where I was sat, Stacey has another mind melt and plays a kamikaze pass back to Lerma that is intercepted by the Coventry player. Jeff has a decision to make and it is a red card all day long. Even then, we had a period down to 10 men where we looked quite comfortable until Parker started to panic. Up to then, I think Stacey was having a decent game, albeit with an unusual position in front of Christie. However, his errors have cost us in recent games. I can’t help feeling that between him and Mepham, they can both put in a really decent performance but at some point, you just know they will do something that will cost us.

So far, I’m quite impressed with what Scott Parker is trying to do with our team, however, trying to hold out for 20 mins whilst changing the set-up to what felt like 6-3-1 at the end is just asking for trouble. He has got to quickly learn to be more positive to trust his players and show more courage to enable them to front up and deliver. It feels like he is almost encouraging them to panic as his positional set-up allows for no outlet whilst we are letting the opposition have a go.

It has been a frustrating few weeks. WBA are pony and have been giving us numerous opportunities to put in such a massive gap that promotion would be hard to throw away, and yet at every chance, we seem to be handing it back to them. I think our team showed today that even with a number of absentees due to injury when we are on our game we are some distance ahead of our rivals. However, the fragile mindset that affected us last season is creeping in again. Derby second half was poor, Millwall second half was dreadful, Coventry second half was on cruise control until the panic set in after the red card. Just to make it worse, there was absolutely no way that Coventry equaliser was a shot, it was a misplaced cross all day long. A very frustrating afternoon at Dean Court.

Best to end on the positives:
Lewis Cook – so good to see someone receive a ball and then head towards the opposition goal instead of the default pass back
Jeff Lerma – I thought he was immense at the back today until Stacey left him up sh*t creek. Some recent forum posts indicate some people would be happy to see him go for a decent fee, I think it would be a massive loss to what we are trying to achieve.
S Cook – I have never bought into the sentimental idea he must play because of his history at our club. However, on today’s performance, I would have him ahead of Mepham every time.

Matt Stevenson wrote…

I’m still in a bad mood. I know I should be heartened by the actual performance for the first 70 mins, but it isn’t much solace. Maybe I celebrated the goal that Fulham let in too much (that should never have stood – actually that has cheered me up a little)

Here is the xG timeline. I haven’t had the desire to watch the extended highlights yet, so sorry for the lack of context.

The first 60 mins were actually very cagey – from the radio commentary, it seems like we had the ball but were struggling to break through a stubborn backline. For the first 65 mins, there was hardly a good chance created (Godden in the area about 1 in 6 for them) and Anthony’s goal, which was a cross that would sneak in at the far post, if no one got a touch and the keeper anticipated contact.

A similar cross put us 2-0 up with Billing getting on to the end of it (2 in 3), with Phil Bill having moments before got round the keeper but hitting the side netting (44%), Things were looking good, until Lerma’s send-off (hard to dispute this in my view). Although we created another good chance (1 in 3) with Solanke, and were stopping them from creating good chances. Until the 85th minute when Travers parried out Kelly’s shot (1 in 10), and Godden squeezed the ball home (about 1 in 5). Despite it sounding like constant pressure, the corner count was going up fast, it was only in added-on time that the chances started to come, with eventually Coventry equalising with nearly the last kick of the match, from a misplaced cross (1 in 20)


Toronto John added…

Real tough one, because after the second goal I had it all chalked up to 3 points. We were dominant and there was no damn way for them to come back,

Agree that from the tv angle, Stacey’s back pass was dangerous. Was he trying to play it back to Travers?? It looked like he had an easy option to Meps. Heat of the moment?

Jeff’s decision was also questionable. Up 2-1 with 11 men on the pitch or 2-0 with 10 men and 25 minutes to play. Tough call. In some ways, like Meps in last year’s playoff.

The decision to put in Zeno was in hindsight very poor, given the wind conditions. I doubt he messes up that header in normal wind. If he had been sent on 10 minutes sooner, he might have had a better measure of the wind.

If we hold on, so many good things happen, including top of the league, 10 points over WBA, 12 points over Coventry. I’m now thinking we are in tough come Friday with all the injuries and no Jeff. Can he appeal and get a stay until the following match?

Draw on Friday seems like a good result at this stage. – Join the conversation, click here.

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1 comment

  • Michael Dowding says:

    The bookies have us to lose 2 points to 1 point and as a red hot and lifetime supporter I can’t see us get anything from the televised game this coming Friday.

    Fulham know how to score and have getting on for double our goal difference. We score in most, maybe all games and our 6 clean sheets on the bounce quite recently was exceptional so I console myself by saying if we can return to that form we only need to score 1 goal!

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