Coventry City faced Sheffield United at home today in what promised to be a cracker of a game - the visitors currently occupy one of those coveted Play Off places, and after dropping off in form recently the Sky Blues are just about still part of the chasing pack. It was a must win for us, and Sheffield United couldn’t really afford to drop any points either given how quickly things can change in the Championship, so I was confident that we’d be in for a decent game of football today. I wasn’t fully confident of a home win, but it certainly wasn’t impossible!
Regular readers of the blog may remember that ahead of our home game with QPR in January, I won a prize on SkyBet EFL Rewards - I wasn’t sure what it was at the time, but shortly after the game I was contacted to say I’d won a VIP match day experience, and I had a choice of either today’s game or the Preston game at the end of February. I opted for today, and so for the first time ever I was in the corporate section at the CBS to watch the game! I was able to bring Hannah, Joe, and my Mum along with me to enjoy the day and it started off in excellent fashion, as when I arrived at the lounge upstairs I was greeted and given a free home shirt signed by the current squad! I wasn’t expecting it at all, and can’t wait to get it framed and put up at home!
We then went down to the pitch and had pictures taken in the home dug out before going back to the lounge for the pre-match meal (it was lovely!). An added bonus today was that it was Legends Day, where former Sky Blues players are invited back to the club for the day in celebration of their time as Coventry City players. Through this I was able to meet personal childhood heroes of mine, Dele Adebola, Michael Doyle and Marcus Hall - I’m absolutely buzzing that I got chance to speak to them and get photos with each of them before the game kicked off! We were also given complimentary match programmes and team sheets before the game, and I was interested to see that we had gone for an attacking line up again today.
Both Mark Robins and Adi Viveash would be missing from our dugout today after coming down with COVID (wishing them both a speedy recovery!) but I think Robins was still able to pick the team - he’d gone for Gyokeres and Godden up front with Callum O’Hare in behind, with Jamie Allen and Gustavo Hamer in the centre of midfield. Ian Maatsen and Fankaty Dabo would occupy the wings, which would surely mean we’d be looking to get forward and cause Sheffield United some problems!
I must admit, whilst I normally prefer to sit behind the goal at the CBS I did enjoy the view from the corporate section, and the padded seats weren’t bad either! The game started in a lively fashion, with early corners at both ends and both sides looking up for it. Gyokeres and Godden seemed to be linking up well when we got the ball into them, and Gustavo Hamer seemed to be pulling the strings in the middle as usual. It was nice to see Dabo back on the right as well, and he treated us early on to a swashbuckling run up the pitch which earned a round of applause from the Sky Blues supporters, and rightly so!
Sheffield United looked threatening when they got in behind us, and they earned a throw in in a dangerous area level with the 18 yard box around 15 minutes in. A long throw in came into the box which wasn’t fully cleared by our defence, and the ball was subsequently floated back across goal by Conor Hourihane for big Norwegian centre mid Sander Berge to head home past Simon Moore. It was 1-0 to the Blades, Berge was left unmarked in the area and in truth it was a poor goal to concede on the face of it - he shouldn’t have had a free header like that in such close proximity to our goal!
From here on in though, things would get a lot better for the Sky Blues. It didn’t take long for us to find an equaliser - Michael Rose played a long ball up towards Godden and Gyokeres, which wasn’t cut out by the Blades’ centre half who missed his header completely. Gyokeres ran on to the loose ball and was clean through, one on one with the keeper - he comfortably slotted the ball into the bottom corner and made it 1-1. It was a brilliant moment and at that point we had deserved the equaliser, as the game had been an even one for the first 20 minutes. The goal also quietened down the travelling Sheffield United fans, who had been in full voice since taking the lead and were also throwing a blow up doll around the away end which to be fair was quite amusing.
Both sides had further chances throughout what was a bit of a scrappy remainder of the first half. One opportunity for us came through a long ball from Simon Moore, which was picked up by Viktor Gyokeres who managed to hold off the defender pressuring him. After getting the ball under control, he ran towards goal and hit a shot towards the far corner, but his effort was tipped wide by keeper Wes Foderingham. At one point there was a bizarre situation at the other end, in which Simon Moore was penalised for picking up a back pass from Gustavo Hamer - to me it didn’t look like a deliberate back pass, more of an interception which Hamer steered back towards goal to get it away from danger. It was an odd moment, as it’s very uncommon to see a back pass in a game nowadays and I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen one given at a game before! It resulted in an indirect free kick inside our 18 yard box, which saw almost every man in a Sky Blue shirt stood on the goal line - thankfully they were able to charge down the indirect free kick and the scores remained level, with the ball going behind for a corner.
The corner itself came to nothing for the visitors, but as we cleared the ball Jamie Allen sparked a fantastic counter attack - he nodded it past his man and then carried the ball forwards across the half way line, as more Sky Blue shirts joined the attack. The ball was slipped through to Gustavo Hamer, who had charged up the right hand side, and Hamer found himself in a great scoring position but he scuffed his shot, which was comfortably gathered by Foderingham. Hamer should’ve buried it, or even squared the ball to Matty Godden who had drawn level with him in the box, but the end product just wasn’t there. It was a golden chance, I couldn’t believe that we hadn’t gone 2-1 up!
Just before half time, Callum O’Hare attempted a spectacular long range effort on the half volley - he had spotted Foderingham off his line, but sadly the shot didn’t dip enough and hit the top of the net rather than the back of it. We went into the break level at 1-1, and whilst it was a fair score line I was still reeling from Hamer’s miss - I just couldn’t believe he hadn’t scored! The game was definitely still there for the taking, and our players were looking confident when they got on the ball. It was very encouraging, and I hoped we’d be able to get a winner in the second half.
The second half started just as brightly as the first half did, with both sides having chances - Simon Moore was forced into a save, but he dealt with the long range effort that had come his way comfortably. Callum O’Hare had a chance not long afterwards, carrying the ball to the edge of the Sheffield United box and hitting a shot towards the top right corner - unfortunately it would only cannon back off the stanchion holding the net up. It was one of those games that definitely had more goals in it, you could feel it in the air!
Sure enough, we scored with our next attack - Viktor Gyokeres was played in behind again, running towards goal in another one on one. Gyokeres aimed for the bottom corner but the keeper tipped his shot on to the post - it rebounded back to the feet of the oncoming Callum O’Hare, who got a toe to it to bundle it over the line. It wasn’t the prettiest of goals but they all count! O’Hare followed in and was rewarded for it, it was great to see that kind of desire and it paid off.
We continued to put the visitors under pressure, winning a corner which we very nearly scored from - Kyle McFadzean hit the post after the ball dropped to him! Only a few minutes after going 2-1 up we had a 3rd goal though, again through Callum O’Hare - the ball was worked in from the left to the feet of Gyokeres, who slid it through to O’Hare after he had made a clever run. O’Hare hit a left footed shot low into the far corner to bag a brace, and we looked very comfortable now! Not that the Blades didn’t have their chances though, Moore needed to stay alert on the odd occasion we were put on the back foot, but realistically we were well in control at this point.
Sheffield United really couldn’t handle the balls we were playing over the top of them - they’re quite a big side and they look like they have a decent arial presence, but we were able to get in behind them at will. Gyokeres chased a long ball into the penalty area and bullied the centre half off it, squaring it to Godden who saw his shot saved by the keeper - it was another glorious chance! It was only cleared momentarily though and we kept the pressure on, with Ian Maatsen picking the loose ball up and beating a player on the edge of the box. The ball was slipped through to O’Hare who looked like he might try and dink it over Foderingham, but instead he played a lovely square ball into Godden who tucked this one away comfortably. 4-1, Godden wheeled away to pull out his lawnmower celebration and it capped a wonderful performance by the Sky Blues. There was still over 20 minutes left to play at this point as well, and we had absolutely torn our opponents to shreds when we got on the attack after half time. The jubilant Sky Blues fans were shouting “Ole!” as we passed the ball around, which is a sign of how firmly in control we were!
By the time the final whistle blew, we had forced Foderingham into yet more saves and Martyn Waghorn (who had replaced Matty Godden) had also hit the post late on. To a man we were fantastic today, the only fault I could find was the opening goal as we had conceded it too easily! It’s a very minor blemish on an otherwise stellar performance, but who cares - we’ve beaten a decent side 4-1 and that kind of result is massive! I genuinely couldn’t pick a man of the match, and I’m sure whoever did also struggled, but it was given to Callum O’Hare after his double. Well deserved!
One of the perks of being in the corporate area was that O’Hare came up to be presented with the man of the match award - I managed to get a quick photo with him on his way out, and as we left the ground the rest of the squad were also leaving for the night. Of course, we had to go and get photos with them as well! A massive thank you to Viktor Gyokeres, Matty Godden, Fabio Tavares, Martyn Waghorn, Kyle McFadzean, Ben Sheaf, Simon Moore and Dom Hyam for all stopping for a picture! It was a great way to end a great day!
I doubt I’ll have a match day experience better than this one, I think the blog has peaked today!