Right then. We’ve had more than enough time to stew over the first leg. It’s time for us to do something special.
Truly despicably, we’re 3-0 down, and the chances are we’re simply not going to get out of this mess. I’m pissed off with the scenario, but I’ve at least come to terms with it. But – and it’s a huge but – if we do manage it, it’ll be one of the greatest things we’ve ever done.
And without a Rich Robins or Moneybags McGoldrick in sight? Now that would be something.
How are they getting on?
Predictably, they haven’t won since beating us two weeks ago. OK, they’ve only had two games, but a draw to Notts County and then a late-ish defeat to high-flying Bournemouth gives little away about what frame of mind they’ll be entering the match in.
Looking back over their semi-recent form in all competitions, they’ve actually managed 5 wins in 10, and lost only 3. That’s fairly decent, but still offers no clearer pattern to go on.
Why would they lack confidence, though? Their worst home defeat so far this season was 2-0 to Oldham and they’ve also got the 3rd best home defensive record in league one.
Let’s be honest here, if we were the ones bringing a side to the Ricoh with a 3-0 advantage, we’d fancy ourselves something chronic. Crewe will be no different and are all pretty certain they can finish off the job.
Who could cause us trouble?
We know who caused us issues last time around – lord, do we know. Brad Inman finished calmly for both of his goals, and Leitch-Smith – who I picked out beforehand – showed his keen eye for goal with a nifty finish. They were brutally clinical.
I’ve picked out Mathias Pogba prior to both our previous meetings. He didn’t even play in the last leg, but given the regularity with which he is able to pop up with a goal, I can’t help but worry about him.
Then there’s the keeper; Steve Phillips. Many placed his performance as the difference between the two teams back at the Ricoh, as he pulled off endless saves while our own Chris Dunn struggled to get near a thing. Is it possible for him to save everything, all over again? Let’s bloody hope not.
Sky Blues team news
Carl Dickinson has stomped his way into the team and will continue at left-back while Blair Adams continues his recovery.
Carsley shook things up in his first game by bringing in Nathan Cameron for Billy Edge, and was vindicated with a rare clean sheet. He says that Edjenguele had a knock and is now available again, but I’d imagine it’s extremely unlikely he’ll mess about with something that gleaned such immediate results.
Lee-boy also chose to go with 4-4-2 from the start, and seeing as that worked so well – why fiddle? It’s becoming clear that Leon Clarke provides a more active threat when accompanied by some help, and in Stephen Elliott he has a more than capable foil.
One final oddity – forgotten chap Kevin Malaga was mentioned for the first time in months during this week’s press conference. It raised a few eyebrows, but my guess would be that this was simply to cover the bases, rather than any indication of a shock re-introduction to the fold. Not yet, at least.
It’s at this point you will all be expecting a rallying cry. I’m not sure I can provide that, but here we go.
The first leg was an utter shambles, we know that. But can we actually do this? Can we, Coventry City, Kings of the underwhelming, do something so unlikely? So magical?
Of course we can. Anything’s possible, and if they can do it to us, we can do it to them. Definitely.
The question is really will we? Do we have it in us?
The buzz phrase this week has been “early goal”. That’s what we’re all saying. Grab an early goal and we’re right back in the tie, and they’re not wrong. That’d really get our boys going and send the bravado amongst the fans into overdrive.
But as a minimum, I think we have to get to half-time with a clean sheet. Even if that means going into half-time at 0-0. I don’t think we can afford to give ourselves any more of a mountain than we already have. We have the attacking quality in Clarke, Baker, Elliott and McSheffrey to score 3 goals, but we have to manage the game properly this time around. A solid foundation of defensive resilience will determine how this game goes.
Do that at least, then we can really force things in the second half. Seriously, go nuts, lads. You have all of our permission.
Concede early however, and I think we’ll have just about had it.
So with all those caveats in mind, I do still think we will win the game; but probably not the tie. It’s really horrible to contemplate – I bloody want Wembley so much – but I think the first leg will leave us with just a little too much against a team with a home record like Crewe’s.
So, 2-1 to us and a gentle sob for all the fans on the way home feels likely.
Clearly this is my brain talking. Later on, I’ll be as consumed with emotion and defiance as the rest of you.
PUS mutha-flipping B.