Coventry (a) - As I Seen It

Coventry City 2, Pools 1   FA Cup Round 2 (replay)  Tuesday December 17th 2013

Match report by BILL THE BIRO at Sixfields (Northampton)

Northampton and Coventry are both towns I know well. In fact my daily commute takes me around the outskirts of both of them.  

The Sixfields stadium is a place I know well, too. Not only have I frequently seen Pools play (and usually lose) there, it's the only other league ground besides the Vic where I've had a conducted tour. 

So it was that I dawdled home from work, stopping to take in the match on the way. In fact, despite not leaving work until 6, and then driving the 15 miles to Northampton, I still had time to go to KFC and look round the enormous B & Q (their fitted kitchens are amazing, by the way), before heading off to Sixfields

With me being a senior, I only paid £6 to get in (full price was only £9), which made the £4 car parking charge seem a bit steep. The age limit for seniors at football matches seems to be variable, with many, like Pools, using 60, while others use 65. This was pointed out to me by a fellow senior who realised after reading the small print on his ticket that he had unwittingly defrauded Coventry City of £3. Obviously he will now be putting a cheque in the post.

Most people already know of the farce that is the Coventry City saga. It involves a big-league club building a big-league stadium at the same time as they lose their big-league status. Add in wheeler-dealer business practices and the result is that Coventry City can't pay their big-league rent and go bust. As ever, a brand-new club emerges, which seems to be the old one except that they now play 31 miles away at Sixfields, while their big-league stadium languishes doing nothing but the odd rock concert. The fans are unsurprisingly not amused, and vote with their feet, with most of them refusing to watch home matches played outside Coventry.

"Sixfields is by no means a big ground, but the Coventry fans in the main stand looked a sorry lot, surrounded by empty seats.
So it was that, while Pools had a turnout of more than 250, decent for a midweek game in December, Coventry couldn't even entice a thousand people to go a few miles up the road. The result was a bizarre atmosphere. Sixfields is by no means a big ground, but the Coventry fans in the main stand looked a sorry lot, surrounded by empty seats. And one side stand and one end stand weren't even being used. So we at times had the atmosphere of a Sunday league match. When the play was near the empty stands, sometimes all that could be heard was the players on the pitch shouting to each other. It gave some idea of what matches must have been like at the Reynolds Arena, although they must have been even worse.

After the strange lineup at Cheltenham, which Colin Cooper admitted had not been right, he returned to more familiar territory with Compton and Walker replacing Holden and Sweeney, and with Franks continuing up front, after his impressive showing at Whaddon Road.

From the off, Coventry looked the better side, with big, bustling Leon Clarke always being a danger, so it came as no surprise when he scored. Pools were not really posing much of a threat.

After half time Pools improved a bit. Poole and James came on and Pools then came more into the action. In one impressive 2 or 3 minute spell they ran rings round Coventry, but failed to score.

Pools' final substitution was Collins for Franks. Sensible, we thought. Move Monkhouse up front, Baldwin to midfield and Sam can replace him at the back. Not so. Sam went up top. And the move worked, with Baldwin getting a late headed equaliser.

Pools were now up for it, but with extra time looming, that man Clarke was again given a chance, which he took, leaving Pools with no time to rescue the situation.

So Pools are left to concentrate on the league. Let's hope they do a better job of that than they did last season.