The ACN Match Review – Coventry (h)

04/02/24

Spring in the air, spring in our steps - our steps to the GOAL, that is. Dare we recognise a pleasing improvement in form? Paul Buller thinks so.

The atmosphere

All the elements came together to make this a rather splendid day for football. The first touches of warmth from the mild February sun; pay-day filling many bellies with beer; the Barclay drum responding to the always excellent travelling Coventry support; some scintillating football played at a billion miles-per-hour right from kick off. Oh, and a lovely old win for Nodge. Best atmosphere for months.

The line-up

Probably our best footballing line-up (minus Jonny Rowe) and having your newly signed striker on the bench is always good for anticipation. He didn’t disappoint in the few minutes he had. Even without Rowe, this mostly-fit squad in current form is pretty tasty, as shown when changes were made to get us back into the game.

Hurrah moment

Borja Sainz’s goal was a delicious, spine-tingling thing of beauty that elicited joyous moans of ecstasy from all of us. That it was also set up by Ashley Barnes, who was so instrumental in changing our attacking play after coming on, will annoy his haters. But he deserves respect for expertly playing the pivot role that freed up Sargent and Sainz to win this game.

Boooo moment

Aside from our ridiculous throw-in into our own box to give Coventry the lead there was very little to boo about in this game. However I do wonder if some of us may consider, when Norwich go one goal down, not immediately turning puce with rage, cursing Wagner, Delia, Attanasio, Foulger the Chicken King, Captain Canary, Stephen Fry, your mum, the bloke next to you and generally being furious at the world. Norwich are currently on a good enough run of form to suggest we can turn results around – and while it’s a two-way thing, getting behind the team at a time of need does tend to help.

Hero of the match

Step forward Mr David Wagner. Coventry’s half-time instructions were clearly ‘get at them even faster’ and we stood still as they ran around us for 15 minutes, eventually conceding the goal. Not normally reactive (or proactive?) with his subs, Wagner spotted our inability to hold the ball further up the field and brought on Barnes and Hernandez, changing the game immediately by offering us some structure and giving Sainz and Sargent the freedom to play around Barnes. It’s rare that Wagner’s substitutions have affected us positively but it was fundamental to the win and to all of us going home with nice big smiles on our faces.

Our post-match takeaway

Another win, another good performance, proof that this team can actually play in a couple of different ways if needed, moments of brilliance from individuals, Ipswich down to fourth. A rather splendid day for football.

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