A tale of two wasted penalties meant that Coventry City and Reading had to share a 1-1 draw at the Ricoh Arena this afternoon.
After the nightmare that was the defeat at Ipswich, Andy Thorn rested Gael Bigirimana and brought into Conor Thomas with Gary McSheffrey taking over from Carl Baker’s whose injury has not been made fully clear.
The players with Reading, who included former Sky Blue Jay Tabb in their starting line-up playing in all red, came out to a Ricoh Arena that was pretty quiet. Despite reports over the number of tickets the club had given out, it was clear that there was a good number of people were staying away from the Ricoh either in protest at the SISU’s running of the club or due to concerns about their safety from marauding stewards and police.
Everybody was searched going into the ground and bags inspected in case of any banners which may or may not have had a fire certificate but none were spotted amongst the crowd which was going mad with only one hundred seconds gone when Gary McSheffrey got the ball on the left and finished smartly to give City the lead.
Cody McDonald, certainly looked liked he wanted to get on the scoresheet, winning a fourth minute corner before getting a cracking pass from Thomas three minutes later. McDonald may have been partnering Adam Le Fondre up front if he had opted for the Sky Blues instead of choosing Reading and the former Rotherham man was booed and jeered for his comments about going to a better club whenever he touched the ball.
In the ninth minute, the jeers for Le Fondre stopped and the Singers Corner under the Scoreboard launched into a chorus of “We Want SISU Out”, accompanied by the back of the CT Stand as they did (no banners unfurled this time), the City defence let Simon Church alone on the edge of the area and the number eighteen beat Murphy to draw the Royals level.
Reading won three corners and McSheffrey had a long ranger go just wide of Federici’s left hand post, before Jobi McAnuff attacked in the 20th minute and was clipped as he tried to cut inside by Cyrus Christie.
Referee Mr Ilderton cautioned the Coventry kid and awarded the Royals a penalty, which Noel Hunt stepped up to take. Hunt’s body language was that bad that it was evident what way he was going to put the ball and his not particularly well-hit shot was easily saved by Joe Murphy much to the delight of the City support.
To be honest, a properly taken penalty now looked the only way that Reading would score in what was a pretty entertaining first half. Richard Keogh and Martin Cranie were solid, doing their job and allowing the full backs of Chris Hussey and Cyrus Christie to attack when they got the chance.
Sammy Clingan worked hard in midfield along with McSheffrey and Thomas whilst Jutkiewicz and McDonald looked for the few scraps that came their way in a half that ended with Murphy having to push over a Joe Mills shot in first half stoppage time.
Reading boss Brian McDermott must have told his side at the break to stop the Sky Blues from getting so much width and in the second half, City were forced more and more inside with David “Four More Year” Bell having fewer opportunities to get in any decent crosses.
Gary McSheffrey did force Federici to push his shot over the bar in the 48th minute and apart from two corners, both sides really struggled to create a clear cut chance.
Andy Thorn was the first manager to make a change, bringing on Clive Platt for Cody McDonald. Instead of changing the play and lumping everything to the former Colchester man, City kept to their game plan and saw a 65th minute Clingan free kick beaten away and Jutkiewicz directing a Christie cross into the side netting before the forward made a surging run and Federici had to dive to his right to concede a corner.
Reading were playing the patient build up game looking for an opening but it never came and Jutkiewicz fired straight at the keeper before Reading went up the other end and were denied by a brilliant tackle from Richard Keogh.
In the 87th minute, McSheffrey left to a good ovation from the City support and was replaced by Roy O’Donovan.
Platt hit a shot which was saved before the flag went up from the official in front of the Tesco Stand much to the frustration of the City supporters who were on their feet in the second minute of stoppage time when Lukas Jutkiewicz went into the area and was taken down.
Mr Ilderton pointed to the post and up stepped Lukas Jutkiewicz. Federici dived first and was heading to the ground which meant that Jutkiewicz had the whole of the goal to aim at. However, he blasted it high into the CT Stand and City, who are at home to Blackpool on Tuesday night, had to settle for a point.
Report by Kev Monks
COVENTRY CITY 1-1 READING
SAT SEPT 24 AT The Ricoh Arena, Coventry
Team Murphy, Christie, Hussey, Keogh, Cranie, Bell, Clingan, Thomas, McSheffrey (O’Donovan 87), Jutkiewicz, McDonald (Platt 61). SNU Dunn, Cameron, Deegan.
Reading: Federici, Gorkss, Mills, Cummings, Pearce, Tabb, McAnuff, Leigterwood, Church, Le Fondre (Manset 81), Hunt (Robson-Kanu 71). SNU McCarthy, Gunnarsson, Howard.
HT CCFC 1-1 RFC FT CCFC 1-1 RFC ATT 12,309
REFEREE E.Ilderton Assts A.Horton & R.Merchant
BOOKED Christie, Thomas, Cummings
GOALS Gary McSheffrey (2), Simon Church (10)
MAN OF THE MATCH Gary McSheffrey took the votes with nominations for Jutkiewicz, Christie, Bell and Murphy.