A word about Thursday’s win

I think I’ve just about settled down from all that JPT jubilance. It’s not often I agree with what comes out of a footballer’s mouth, but Leon Clarke got it spot on following the the last gasp recovery on Thursday night – that was epic.

It feels strange to say that about this competition, as before we started the campaign it had a bit of a jokey feel to it, and in the early rounds there was almost an apologetic happiness about progressing. A lot of fans scoffed about our participation, and being realistic, there was always going to be an element of that this season especially. Let’s face it; we’ve never played in it before, and in the grand scheme of where we see ourselves as a football club, we’d all prefer not to.

But even now, when we’re this close to winning it, I’m still noticing fans struggling to get up for it and questioning the value of the prize at the end. There’s the standard concern about the impact it might have on our league performance. I can’t really understand it.

As important as a concerted attempt at achieving promotion is, before dismissing it as a tin pot trophy, we have to seriously consider just how long it’s been since we’ve had any sort of success. As much as it pains me to have dropped down to this league; we are League One this season, and the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy is our competition.

Beggars can’t be choosers in football. If we win it – following a trip to Wembley and all that comes with that – it will be the biggest thing to happen to Coventry City for the vast majority of our fanbase, whether we like it or not. At this stage of our recovery from the lows of the Championship relegation and endless years of mediocrity, winning and finally getting used to success is absolutely key. For too long our culture hasn’t allowed that. In fact, it’s been a downright hindrance.

I’m 28, so like many fans out there am too young to even vaguely recollect the FA Cup victory. That’s a lifetime of having absolutely no idea what it feels like for my football club to achieve something. What makes it worse is I was alive and actively being a toddler when it happened. The football Gods are really teasing me with that one. If only my focus had been on the football and not Thomas the Tank Engine, I might have had a chance of actually remembering something by now.

But anyway, I digress. We need this trophy. Every fan will have seen or heard what it meant to the club after those goals went in on Thursday. Quite honestly, I never knew football could create such joy. I make no apologies for that. It’s just a taste of how good achievement for Coventry City might feel, and I bloody loved it.

We have to harness everything we can from the good feeling of beating Preston, and while the fans can dream, the players can’t get ahead of themselves. I do agree that there’s a risk we could get carried away with things. That would be a massive shame – so it’s vital they maintain a clear focus on the league as well, no matter how difficult that might be.

And with that ultra-lengthy introduction, welcome to Sunday’s mega-trip to Carlisle. They inflicted defeat upon Robins in his first game in charge – I’m sure he’ll be keen to show them just how far he’s taken us since then.

How are they getting on?

Nowhere near as well as I thought they would be, that’s for sure. It’s been a strange season for a team that looked like potential play-off challengers following an 8th place finished last season. They’ve not been able to maintain that level.

They’ve lost their last two following a mini revival of sorts with wins over Bury and – as is obligatory in League One this year – Hartlepool. Looking over their semi-recent league form, it’s 7 defeats in 10.

Their home form surely has to be a concern for them too, with 7 defeats and 29 goals conceded placing them as one of worst in the division on their own patch. Obviously they’re not alone, as we very well know, but the worst home defence plays the best away attack anyone? That’s what this match brings.

The form book aside, manager Greg Abbott is well-respected for the job he’s done, and has shown himself as being more than capable of getting a result or two over the years (one of them being against us back in September). Being from our neck of the woods, there’s certainly a driver there for him to show us just how good he now is.

Ya better watch out..

(Tenuous and insanely niche quote from Russell Brand’s Ponderland there, if anyone’s interested.)

Who could cause us trouble?

Well, top scorer Joe Garner ended up playing against us the other night for his new club Preston, following his impressive loan at Carlisle earlier this season. So we can ignore that threat.

Matty Robson and Lee Miller have scored 4 out of Carlisle’s last 5 goals, meaning they seem to warrant the focus of our attention at this moment in time. Robson’s a winger or full-back I hear, so a lot of this will depend on where he’s located. They they do have young Liam Noble, formerly of Sunderland, who was a goalscoring sensation for the Mackam reserves a couple of seasons back, and has notched a few for United this campaign.

Looking back to the game in September and it was Danny Cadamarteri who surprisingly gave us a tough time of it. He tends to find himself coming from the bench, but if his impact in the previous is anything to go by, he’s someone to be aware of.

Then there’s John-Paul McGovern in midfield, who’s a very capable player on his day.

That’s all I have to say about them.

Sky Blues team news

James Bailey is struggling with a knock from the other night. It was a fairly innocuous coming together which had me originally suspecting a simple dead leg, or one of those clashes of knees that render you paralysed for a few minutes.

Turns out, it produced a collection of knocks all the way down his leg, so he’s got a bit of work to do if he’s to make the game. Conor Thomas continued his return to first-team duties by coming on in his place, although Franck Moussa will be pushing to play alongside Fleck and Jennings in the middle of the park.

Stephen Elliott came in for a lot of praise for his attitude following his cameo, but barring a change in approach, new hero Leon Clarke should continue as the lone ranger up front.

Prediction

While I reckon we have it in us to go there and win, there’s always a very real mental challenge to contend after a win like Thursday’s.

The Sky Blue Army will travel, although not quite in the numbers that the team will have become accustomed on their previous away games.

However, we have to win. The teams at the top are stretching things, but we’re within touching distance of the top 6. A victory, and we move 10th – only 3 points off 6th place. Forget the games in hand at the moment, we can’t control how they go. The only influence we can have on those above us is to keep winning, and continue breathing down the necks of those where we want to be.

Robins has already had Shrewsbury doing the double over him. I don’t think he’ll let that happen again. We could take this one – maybe something exciting like 3-2 again.

Image of Brunton Park by Jameboy, on Wikipedia

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