Saturday, 24 March 2012

Coventry City 2 v Portsmouth 0 - npower Championship

Saturday 24th March 2012, at the Ricoh Arena
npower Championship
Coventry City (0) 2
Gary McShefferry 55, Oliver Norwood 77
Portsmouth (0) 0
Admission £9.75 (not full price),
Programme £3, Attendance 15,809 (1588 away fans)
The Ricoh Arena is named after the legendary Jamaican trombonist 'Ricoh' Rodriguez, who was a honorary member of Coventry's greatest export, The Specials (AKA The Special AKA) who were formerly called the Coventry Automatics, during their embryonic, prototype period.
Mr Rodriguez now plays with Jools Holland’s Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.
Or maybe it's called 'The Ricoh' for some completely unknown and entirely different reason altogether.

Note* this Coventry Automatics footage features the band's original drummer, Silverton Hutchinson, who left them just before they got famous.
Don't ever let it be said that THE66POW doesn't go that extra yard to find the pulse of each and every place I visit, in my quest to seek out football's holy grail.
A very lifelike Bruce Forsyth statue (possibly)

Another ticket, like last Saturday's, that arrived in my grubby paws, via a smut and filth laden, gutter press, Tory supporting, daily tabloid publication's special offer.
Mine was free today, a gift from a friend, for offering to drive them to the Ricoh Arena.
I was asked this week, if ... 1) I'm compromising my morals, or 2) I feel contaminated in some way, to be involved in a promotion that gives loads of good publicity to a branch of Murdoch's business empire.
1) Morals!? Me!? I have none
2) Nah, don't be bloody daft!.
He was never my favourite one of the A Team anyway, you crazy fools.
And I haven't followed any of their careers since they vanished from our TV screens.
Last I heard, they were still on the run, having been falsely accused of being war criminals, it was 'a crime they didn't commit' by all accounts.
And to be honest, I thought they were fictional characters anyway.
Somebody gave me a ticket in lieu of diesel costs and going out of my way to pick them up en route to a 2nd Division Football League fixture.
My conscience is 100% clear.
Anyway, enough digressing, I was in Coventry today, which means:

Whoops, I got distracted again, didn't I!?
... which means, this:
Excellent 'one off' retro style programme cover today

Coventry City:
Murphy, Keogh, Cranie, Clarke, Hussey (Christie 80), McSheffrey, Clingan (c), Thomas (Bigirimana 46), Norwood, Nimely, Platt
Unused Subs: Dunn (GK), McDonald, Deegan
Ashdown, Ward (Etuhu 62), Rocha, Pearce (c), Varney, Halford, Allan (Scapuzzi 82), Norris (Futacs 62), Thorne, Maguire, Ben Haim
Unused Subs: Harris, Rekik
Thirty minutes prior to kick off, Coventry practised their game-plan
of running around aimlessly in circles, without a ball.

A 'relegation six pointer this afternoon', the pre match hype said.
Hmm, if the Sky Blues really did get six points for beating Pompey, they'd soon be shooting up the table.
But they didn't, of course.
So what a daft as a bag of frogs expression that falsehood is.
The Coventry Telegraph called it 'squeaky bum time', which is far more apt.
After the game, both clubs were still in the bottom three relegation berths.
Portsmouth are rock bottom on 30 points, Coventry City now have 35, just one point behind Bristol City in the last 'staying up' position, with a better goal difference.
Sandwiched between today's sides are Doncaster Rovers on 31 points.
Millwall on 40 points and Nottingham Forest on 39, are in 19th and 20th place.
The Sky Blues are now unbeaten in five games, drawing four in a row prior to this afternoon, so possibly the impetus of the run they're on, gives them a slight advantage over Bristol City.
The Longford Engine on Bedworth Road

An overheard conversation snippet, in the Longford Engine public house at lunchtime, between a local and a Pompey fan went thus ...
Local: "If we don't win today, we're f***ed!"
Pompey fan: "We're already f***ed mate!"
Clive Platt goes close

The first half demonstrated quite clearly why both teams are struggling this season.
The wrong final ball, stray passes, half arsed attempts at ball control, drills that worked on the training pitch going awry in a real match situation, err, you get the picture.
It was a fairly grim spectacle all round.
At times, it really looked as though both teams were playing with the burden of pressure that comes from being in the drop zone preying on their collective mindset. And that unwanted millstone was breaking their concentration, and warping their sense of logic and decision making.
Rushed, inaccurate passing, concedes possession and will get you nowhere (I've read that in my Martin Chivers Football Tactics book, that PG Tips gave away when I was 8 years old and therefore have known these basics principles for many years now, mark my words) and when both sides are doing exactly the same, well ... draw your own conclusion!There weren't many clear cut chances before the break, Clive Platt's effort that rolled narrowly wide during a Portsmouth defensive capitulation was the closest either side came to breaking the deadlock.
The highlight of the first half was when the referee called both teams over to the touchline for a water break.
No, seriously!
City's manager, Andy Thorn, said of the first half: "There was no zip. We were glad to get into the dressing room at half time"
Most people present would've been grateful for 15 minutes respite from the 'entertainment' that was on offer too.
Half time Coventry City legends parade ... how many can you recognise?

After the break, the game stepped up a notch; from tedious ineptitude, to almost mediocre.
The home side had a few spells where they momentarily threatened to look half (but nowhere near wholly) decent, but it was enough to win the day against a Portsmouth side, who's body language suggests they have already resigned themselves to their fate this season.
10 minutes into the second half, Chris Hussey punted a hopeful cross into the visitors goal area, instead of clearing the danger, Ricardo Rocha failed to pick up either the flight of the ball, or the run of Gary McShefferry and the Sky Blues were ahead.
A couple of Pompey players falling over

The goal did nothing to bring the game to life.
And both sides resumed their stumbling and bungling approach all over again.
13 minutes from time, City's Alex Nimely played a neat pass across the Pompey goal area into the path of Oliver Norwood, who gratefully smashed the ball home to kill the game off, though it would be fair to say, it had been dead all afternoon, but could now be buried properly.
How on earth did this Portsmouth side beat Birmingham City 4-1 in midweek?
They didn't look to have a single goal in them at all today, let alone four!
The nearest they had come to breaking their duck was when Chris McQuire smashed a free kick against the upright (see below), but there was nobody in place to take advantage of the rebound.
On the positive side for Coventry, it's reached that time of the season, where results are all that matter and performances are of secondary importance, to that end, today was a case of mission accomplished.
But if they had played against a team with any kind of purpose, enthusiasm and direction, they would've come completely unstuck. Alas, this Pompey side had none of those attributes.
Pompey's own manager Michael Appleton appraised his team's no show very accurately: "It was almost like a testimonial. We never moved the ball quick enough. We got what we deserved"
My own overview:
In conclusion, a poor side, beat a very poor side.
Panoramic ground view

Thankfully the Ricoh Stadium is close to the Midlands motorways network and is very easy to get both to and from as a consequence.
I don't think the Pompey fans who were present could leave the scene quickly enough at the end.
They had noisily made their presence felt and put in the effort to get up to Coventry, but their team let them down.
Built on the site where Foleshill Gasworks previously stood, the 32,609 capacity ground was opened in 2005, there are plenty of facilities coupled on to 'The Ricoh' including a leisure centre, conference hall, the Singers Diner (CCFC were originally called Singers FC), a hotel and even a casino. And the Arena Park Shopping Centre that stands adjacent to the stadium, contains one of the largest Tesco Extra Hypermarkets in the known universe. Wow!!!
Coventry City's new(ish) home is one of the Stadia that are being used for the 2012 Olympic Games.Bedworth Road is the place to be for pubs (The Longford Engine & Coach and Horses), cheap car parking (inc. on site security) is available nearby too, at sat nav destination CV79GA (£4 as opposed to the clubs £10 charging in the official ones), and there is even some off road parking if you're early enough.
All the food and drink outlets in the stadium are cashless sales only, you have to purchase a swipe card to use in the ground (minimum spend £5), whereas the food in the Longford Engine and the chip shop opposite it, are a much better option.
Bedworth Road is a brisk 10 minute walk along the canal tow path from 'The Ricoh', just over the rail bridge in the corner of CCFC car park A, which is where the pictures at the top and bottom of this post were taken from at the beginning and end of our visit.
I'd love to be able to tell you how many grounds I've now visited (this was my first game at the Ricoh Stadium) but I lost count years ago.
The Ricoh Stadium has a lot going for it, but today's game wasn't exactly one of it's plus points.
Personally, I prefer, smaller, more intimate grounds.
Each to their own, innit!?
Coventry sunset