I hate doing the away reports for the games that are on telly. With “normal” games I know that most people who read the RTG news page will not have been to the game itself. Therefore everything I say could be a pearl of absolute wisdom (I said “could”). Even those who were at the game would have been in the pub beforehand (like me), probably have crap eysesight (like me) and may have turned around just at the crucial moment and so may think that what I write might possibly be correct. With bliddy Sky, most readers of this will have seen incidents a million, zillions times over and will think “what the hell is he talking about?” when reading my report.
For example, the big talking point is Healy getting nacked. Well, I had a huge great post covering my view of pretty much everything 5 yards either side of the half way line. That actually didn’t matter cos Healy got nacked just in front of said huge great post. Nevertheless I have to say, obvious as it may have been to Sky viewers that it was the worst footballing offence since Darius Kubicki was dropped in favour of Gareth Hall, it really didn’t register with me. I saw Healy go down and it was obvious he was done for but I didn’t particularly blame the Coventry player. Nor I have to say did the travelling red and white army in general. I know cos I am more than happy to join in with indignant shouts of “String him up! Pull his brain out of his nostrils! Kill! Kill! Kill!” if that is the general mood, regardless of whether or not I know who “he” is or why we want to carry out nostril-entry lobotomies. There was no such clamour on Monday night. It wasn’t helped by the fact that the “referee”, despite being no more than ten yards from Healy with bits of his leg scattered across the pitch, did nowt. It took the real referee, Gary McCallister, to stop the game and call on the trainer.
Anyhoo, all that was near the end. Near the beginning we were round the corner and up the hill at the Old Ball drinking Guiness and playing cards. I bet you didn’t get to see that on Sky – ha! Bizarrely, despite being so close to the ground and being a canny pub, there were no more than 10 Coventry supporters in the pub – the rest being god’s chosen with that look that says “I really should stop drinking and go to that match but it’s so warm here and the beer is so nice”. Someone not playing cards was playing “how many ex-Sunderland players are currently playing in the premiership?” The answer is a depressingly large number. It was also while we were in the pub that the news came on the telly that Oster was neither playing nor on the bench – I didn’t find out until after the match that he was injured. It was a depressing start as we need Oster’s creativity.
I suppose I better say something about the game. We scored very quickly – a superb goal from Downing. He seemed to be back to “silky Downing” instead of “shitty Downing”. However, his manner of shirking out of every challenge really cheeses me off – he seems not to want to go for a loose ball unless the opposition player is prepared to sign, under notarised deed, that he will not challenge for the ball. The problem of loan players I guess.
After that Dazza was truly awful (even on a Dazza scale). Poom was excellent but had more to do than he should have. Kyle should have had a penalty cos he was totally climbed on (I hope they replayed that on Sky). Everyone kicked Arca – it must be OK cos that’s two games running where it has been deemed to be perfectly OK to do so. Whitley was superb. Healy wouldn’t push forward; Quinn couldn’t. McCartney was class; Bjork was slow but generally managed to get his tackles in well so didn’t need to chase. Smith was better up front than we’ve generally seen recently (a benchmark so low as to render the praise meaningless).
They got a penalty, surprise, surprise. I phoned my son (who couldn’t get out of school in time to make it to the match) at half-time and he said that it was a clear penalty. At the moment of impact I said “you f’ing cheating bastids. I knew it. I just bliddy knew you’d get a penalty”.
Apparently it was a canny game. To me it seemed like standard mid-table Div 1(sic) cold December evening match stuff. I always like an away point. But I want to get back the thrill that we got from some of those early games. I’m thinking of Preston (A), Watford (H), Bradford (A), Crystal Palace (H), Derby County (A), Reading (H), Ipswich Town (H), Sheffield United (A), Gillingham (A). Not necessarily all great game but ones where you came out of the ground with a smile on your face.
People may not like it but we really need Trigger back. McCallister and their other central midfielder really pushed the game into our box. Our central midfielders (despite, in Whitley’s case in particular, doing other stuff well) just don’t do that to the opposition. Breen back alongside George; Trigger pushing forward with Whitley or Thirwell holding; Thornton dazzling in from the left; Oster or Piper creating from the right. We can still make this season have a buzz about it. However, I am afraid at present that it is just not doing it for me.