Coventry City 2 Harriers 0 FA Cup 3rd rd
Venue: Ricoh Arena
away fans: 3006
The Harriers take fright at the Ricoh
The Harriers exited the FA Cup at the 3rd hurdle today when Coventry City ran out 2-0 winners even though both sides went into the second half on equal terms at no goals each. That was as far as the equality extended with the City reserve side rarely getting out of second gear.
With over 3000 Harriers fans packed into the Jewson End of the Ricoh it was strange to see such an impressively large stadium almost empty in the other three sides. The City fans obviously weren't up for this game as much as we were.
Both sides started the game nervously with passes going astray on an almost perfect pitch but we were making it harder for ourselves with lynchpin players failing to get involved or in making that decisive move. Matters weren't helped by the strange tactic of playing Justin Richards as a lone striker and Matt Barnes-Homer wide left.
The remainder of the line-up was the same as in previous games with Martin Riley pulling through his groin injury to make the cut. For City it was a mix of first teamers, reserves and youth players and included two players that we had come across before; Robbie Simpson once of Cambridge Utd and Freddie Eastwood formerly with Southend.
It took almost twenty five minutes for the Reds to make any headway and get into the Sky Blue half of the field due to City having the bulk of the possession. Luckily for us our defence was just about getting the last foot in but the corner count in the hosts favour was becoming alarmingly high. By the end of the game City had won the corner count 17-4.
When they did manage to get a shot on target Adam Bartlett was doing exceptionally well in keeping out shots from Eastwood, Simpson and Leon Best. Simpson should really have put his side into the lead when a mistake by Lee Baker let him in for a one on one with Barts but Simpson elected to pass the ball across goal instead and we lived to breathe for a little bit longer.
HT: 0 - 0
After the break it looked like we were at last going to make a fight of it and within two minutes Russ Penn came close to opening the scoring when Richards knocked a ball down for him to send a shot screaming goalwards only to be tipped over by Andy Marshall's fingertips. For the next ten minutes we were the better side and the shot had rocked City back a bit.
Just when it looked as if we were in with a chance of getting something from the game the Harriers fans had to swallow their pride and realise that maybe they weren't. City had yet another corner and this time it was poorly taken by Michael Doyle to the near post where Leon McKenzie slipped it through a ruck of players and into the net.
We still kept plugging away and Mark Yates made a change to the side to try and get back on level terms. On came Brian Smikle in place of Andy Ferrell with MBH moving back alongside Richards to renew their striking partnership.
We had a few more attempts on goal mainly through the efforts of Russ Penn but he couldn't do everything by himself and sometimes Richards was no-where to be seen. Richards seems to have gone back into his old ways of not bothering to work for the cause and ambling around the area without really looking interested. A kick up the backside might help in that respect.
Ten minutes from the end and City finished the job off.
Another defensive error allowed Eastwood to set Leon Best on a run towards Bartlett's goal. With only Smikle standing in his way, back peddling, Best fired the ball across the goal and watched it take a slight deflection off Smikle to go just beyond the fingertips of the diving Harriers keeper.
Yates then threw on Darryl Knights to be followed shortly by Stefan Moore but City had shut up shop by then and were not going to give the game away. Knights had a weak shot on goal that was never going to trouble Marshall and the game finally ended disappointingly for the Harriers fans.
We had come to see our team take on a Championship side and hopefully put up a bit of a fight and maybe get a replay back at Aggborough. On the day though there were too many important players not pulling their weight for us and that was what hurts most.
It's alright when the likes of Creighton, Riley and Lowe play their hearts out but when you have a strikeforce that seem to have lost interest and are there just for the occasion then something is wrong somewhere. It can't have been that terrifying could it?