Welcome back to the most unexpectedly exciting competition since that pretend game of penny football you played on the desks at school.
It’s the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy! The trophy that gave us such hope, such belief, and such drama last season. We even got to a final of sorts. After a fashion.
OK, it may have only been a northern one, but when you’ve had 25 years like we have, Northern Area finals are massive occasions. 30,000 people said so.
Clearly things are little bit different this season. For a start, we couldn’t get 30,000 people in our new “home” if we tried.
a) because no bugger’ll go; and
b) they couldn’t fit even if we employed a “sit on somebody’s lap if you hate ACL/Sisu” policy. (Because it’s really small and isn’t a suitable stadium for us.)
But that’s a long way off. We have a trip to the world’s most frustratingly improved team: Leyton Orient. Our JPT dream could be a fleeting one, especially how they’re playing.
How are they getting on?
Far too well for their own good. It’s been an inexplicable ascent to prominence for the team that was even worse than us this time last season. But ever since our nervy victory over them last Autumn, a switch has flicked. 11 or so months later and this bunch have it in their minds that they’re a decent team – and that’s often all you need.
Now I’m not saying they’re not a good team. But much like Tranmere last season, a winning run will regularly breed confidence and evolve into belief amongst the players that they are decent, while the opposition look at them and hold the illusion that they have something to be scared of. Much like a team that’s rife with good players may only take a few unlucky defeats to start questioning their quality, leaving themselves vulnerable.
It’s a huge part of football this psychological interpretation, and Leyton Orient are the team to watch at the moment because of it. In part because they’ve improved no end and Russell Slade is doing a very good job with them, but they also have bucket-loads of confidence in the unit they have become.
Plus they’ve already knocked us out of a cup this season, the bloody nuisances.
Who could cause us trouble?
I spoke the other week of the danger posed by Brentford’s strike force, and with Kevin Lisbie and David Mooney ramming home the goals like nobody’s business, Orient have a potent one. Plus, Kevin Lisbie will score against us IF he plays. More on that, in a second.
Shaun Batt came off the bench the other day to rescue a point for the O’s, his third of the campaign, while Dean Cox is a name who is attracting attention on the wings. He’s also keen on scoring the odd goal or two, with four of the bleeders already. So watch out for him.
Sky Blues team news
So, why might Kevin Lisbie not be playing? Well, it’s the Johnstone’s Paint trophy and there’s a tendency amongst many clubs to rest some of their key players, on account of these earlier rounds appearing to be a waste of everyone’s time.
But get this – you can’t rest everyone. Oh no. The JPT also has a rule whereby you can only change 5 players from the team that started your previous game. But we all remembered that, right..
Will our beloved Captain Cardigan (although he changed into his stretchy gear at the weekend) get fiddly with the squad? He’s a big fan of giving kids a chance, and he does have a couple of injuries to nurse.
Cyrus Christie is likely to be the most notable absentee, meaning we’ve got a bit of a reshuffle on the cards. I’d imagine Jordan Willis would get the nod here.
There’s also a lot of talk about giving Thomas a rest, meaning there’s an opening in the midfield for Adam Barton, which should please him no end.
As for our attacking quartet, I half expect Manset to be given a go. He just seemed overly-excited about the match on Twitter today.
Choose your own, better team at www.skybluesblog.co.uk/selector
There was no Lamptey this week to reference predictions from, but I took the liberty of acquiring some via the old textual intercourse.
Turns out, once again, there’s a split of opinion. Paul and Joey reckon it’ll be a defeat, which we can swiftly move on from.
I have my eye on it finishing 2-2, with us then pinching it on pens.
Joey: Leyton Orient 2 – 1 Coventry
Paul: Leyton Orient 2 – 0 Coventry
Neil: Leyton Orient 2 – 2 Coventry