On a day where neither of the first teams played due to the nature of the FA Cup, Coventry hosted Walsall Supporters in the first meeting between the sides. This was CCSFC’s first game since 3rd December after the team had agreed to take a break for the winter period.
Walsall are fairly new to the IFA, so it was one we were all looking forward to. With a few key players in Dan Walker and John Wragg unavailable, Penny had to adjust the usual 4-3-3 formation into a flat 4-4-2. Having won the last 3 games on the bounce, Penny’s side were hoping to keep this run going.
The game started fairly bright, with Coventry having a host of early chances, the best edged just wide by Ryan Harkin. It wasn’t long into the game until Coventry had taken the lead through a likely source. TJ Bradnick picked up the ball in midfield, played a neat one-two with Will Hamilton before picking out Ryan Harkins run in behind the defence with a superb lofted pass. Harkin then calmly slotted the ball home with his left foot. 1-0
Coventry were not going to take their foot off the gas, from the kick off, Walsall tried to play their left winger in behind the Coventry defence, however Right back Jack King was on hand to defuse the situation, he played a lovely ball into Will in the midfield, who turned and left both Walsall centre midfielders running into each other, and played the ball to Luke Hand. Luke danced past 2 defenders before taking a shot which trickled just wide.
The first half was all Coventry, and it remained that way. Ryan Harkin doubled his tally and the lead for the afternoon. Another wonderful ball played into his feet, he dropped his shoulder to send the defender the opposite direction, before slotting it into the bottom corner. 2-0.
Coventry then looked to take their foot off the gas, as Walsall obtained more possession, and forced Goalkeeper Connor Hipperson into some outstanding saves.
Half time came around and The Sky Blues 2-0 up and looked good for the lead. No changes at the break, however a slight change of shape, Penny now opting for a 3-1-4-2 with Captain Adam Brannigan moving into a holding midfield role as Penny looked to secure a win aswell. It was Walsall who had the first opportunity of the half. A long ball caught out the Coventry defence, and the Walsall centre forward forced Hipperson into yet another great save, tipping it wide for a corner.
Walsall peppered shots at the Coventry goal for the next 5 minutes, with shots going wide and Hipperson ensuring that he kept his clean sheet. However, Walsall did score. Another long ball caught out the defence and the Walsall centre forward slotted past the on-coming Hipperson. 2-1.
Coventry then made 2 changes. Josh Hines and Matty Evans entered the fray, with Liam Davin and Matt Lavell being sacrificed. Luke Hand was moved into a more defensive role, with Josh and Matty playing on either wing.
The substitutions had an almost instant impact. 10 minutes after the changes, Jack King picked up the ball at Right back, and played a neat ball to meet Matty Evans’ run. Evans played a first time ball into the path of Adam Brannigan, who’s heavy touch led the ball into the path of Lee Hamilton. Hamilton shot and the ball was saved by the goalkeeper, however the ball fell nicely to Adam Brannigan who carried on his run and tapped the ball in. 3-1
The pressure was then relieved and Coventry had 3 more opportunities to extend their lead, falling to Lee Hamilton, Luke Hand and Ryan Harkin respectively. The final 20 minutes was spent by Coventry peppering shots at the Walsall goalkeeper.
Coventry then extended their lead even further with 10 minutes to go. Luke Hand played a neat ball into TJ in the midfield. TJ, Will and Adam then played some neat one-touch football in the centre of the park before playing the ball into Lee Hamilton, Lee took a touch and smashed it past the Walsall goalkeeper. 4-1
Coventry saw the game out at 4-1, and another outstanding team performance. Also, a little note for you all, Ryan Harkin and Lee Hamilton are both having a right good go for Top Goalscorer this season, the stats for them both are as follows;
Ryan Harkin – Played 12 – Scored 12
Lee Hamilton – Played 4 – Scored 6
Keep an eye on the goalscoring records this season. If Lee carries on this scoring form he will surely be up there with Harkin contesting his goalscoring prowess!
Coventry Scorers – Ryan Harkin x2, Adam Brannigan, Lee Hamilton
Coventry Man of the Match – Luke Hand.
Coventry : Connor Hipperson (GK), Jack King, Danny Westley, Adam Brannigan © , Liam Davin (Josh Hines 55), Matt Lavell (Matty Evans 55), TJ Bradnick, William Hamilton, Luke Hand, Ryan Harkin, James Penny (Lee Hamilton 20)