The weather has been threatening to disrupt our fixture list for a long time, but once again the Ricoh Arena has held up to Mother Nature and we’re off to enjoy another wacky game of football. Well done undersoil heating and groundsboys and girls.
Wednesday saw us pick up a valuable three points against league leaders Tranmere, and while we were less than convincing across the 90 minutes, what it’s done is leave us just 3 points away from 6th place. Forget the games in hand, finally making that jump after the recent failings to do so could be massive for us.
All we can do is win the game ahead of us – and keep winning those games – to give ourselves a shot. No more inexplicable slip ups. Let’s face up to all tests.
Today’s is at home to Oldham Athletic.
How are they getting on?
It’s all gone a bit downhill for the Latics. Those City fans who were at Boundary Park back in September to see us claim our first 3 points of the season will confess to being very unimpressed with our opposition that day. However, that result actually heralded a suqsequent run of results for Paul Dickov’s men, seeing them surge up to 13th at their highest point.
Somewhat predictably, that form didn’t last, and while there was another decent flurry of point-getting back in November to see them return to 16th place, they’ve now lost 5 out of their last 6 league games and are back down to 19th.
Away from home, their record is fairly respectable with 4 whole wins, although 3 of those came against teams below them in the table, so we should feel confident.
Although Shrewsbury had managed none until they came to the Ricoh the other week. We’ve realised we can expect no gimmes at home.
Who could cause us trouble?
They’ve got some recognisable names, have Oldham.
Top scorer is former Everton youngster Jose Baxter who has found the net 11 times this season. Paul Dickov certainly thinks a lot of him and has been touting him as a future Premier League player. He’s still only 20 years old, and having just signed a new contract with the club that snapped him up on a free in the Summer, he’ll be keen to mark the occasion by repaying the faith shown in him.
On loan Lee Croft had a noticeable game against us when we played them last, and his getting plenty of match time under Dickov. I’ve not seen him myself for quite a long time, but he was always a fairly sturdy object.
One man who’ll probably get a needlessly warm welcome is former City trier Robbie Simpson. He never really settled or imposed himself on life at the Ricoh Arena, although he had some memorable performances (including a particularly dynamic game against Man Utd), and was always a capable striker of a dead ball.
He also treated us to the worst ever attempt at a knee-slide during his time here. Fingers crossed he doesn’t have another chance to show it off. Although a small part of me wants to see him mess it up one more time.
Sky Blues team news
Some really good news is that Blair Adams is finally ours for keeps. Tranmere was slated to be the final game of his miniature loan spell, but fortunately the club were able to sort out a permanent transfer this week for old Lionel/Tony.
It was a hard-fought kind of game against Tranmere, and while there were a few changes to the line-up as the match wore on, Robins is a 4-5-1 kind of guy at heart, so it’ll take something special (and some sexy performances in training) to force his hand any other way I think. This means that the impressive Stephen Elliott will probably find himself on the bench again.
There was a peculiar gasp when Franck Moussa was substituted the other night, but for me it was a predictable and understandable change as he’ d struggled to get involved for the most part. Saying all that, he’s a potentially deadly player – so I think Robins will stick with him a little longer. There is a lot of clambering to see Conor Thomas finally get a start, but I saw a reasonable shape to our play in the first half on Wednesday, so don’t think it’s quite so pressing to bring him in just yet.
James Bailey is still nursing that injury he picked up so it doesn’t sound like he’s going to be back in time. If he’s fit though, he’ll more than likely play.
A final “welcome back” to David Bell who’s been out for what seems like decards with injury. Some chap was heckling him the other night as he was warming up – don’t you listen to him David. Maybe this is the level where you can finally perform. I’ve never been a great fan, but there’s nothing to be gained from screaming nonsense at you from the side before you’ve even kicked a ball.
He’ll be hoping to get some game time as soon as possible.
Wednesday was hard work against the team that’s top of the league, even though they weren’t actually very impressive at all.
As we’ve showed against Shrewsbury and Carlisle, there’s little correlation between the quality of our performance against the top and bottom sides. If anything, we’re showing ourselves to be pretty formidable with the teams in the top 10.
But from what I’ve seen of Oldham, and the run they’re on at the moment, I’d be a fool to think we should be coming away from the match with anything less than a win.
Image courtesy of someone on Twitter. As soon as I can figure out amongst the raft of retweets and reposts who actually took it, I’ll credit.