COVENTRY CITY 1-2 SOUTHAMPTON
SAT JAN 7TH AT The Ricoh Arena,
City: Dunn, Keogh, Wood (Hussey 77), Christie, Cranie, Deegan, Thomas, Bigirimana (Ruffels 82), Baker, O’Donovan (Jeffers 64), McSheffrey. SNU Murphy, Clarke, McPake
Southampton: Bialowski, Harding (Stephens 87), Martin, Hoolveld, Cork, Ward-Prowse (Reeves 71), Schneiderlin, Hammond, Fox, Llallana, Doble (Hoskins 59). SNU Davis, Holmes, Fonte, Shaw
HT CCFC 1-0 SFC FT CCFC 1-2 SFC ATT 9,000
Referee Colin Webster. Assts G.Stott & G.Russell.
Booked – Cranie
Goals – Gary McSheffrey (5), James Ward-Prowse (62), Arron Martin (81)
Man Of The Match – Gary McSheffrey and Richard Keogh shared the votes with nominations for Christie and Bigirimana.
CITY SUPPORT: Third Round FA Cup games between sides in the same division are rarely well attended anyway. But this game had the City support split in three ways. Some went to the game, some protested whilst others simply saved their money and stayed away.
CITY TEAM NEWS
Lukas Jutkiewicz’s back injury was such that he could have played if he wanted to but didn’t (make of that what you will) and Joe Murphy and David Bell, were two players who played against West Ham United but were not named in today’s starting line-up. Chris Dunn, Roy’Donovan and Gael Bigirimana all started with Josh Ruffels being pulled out of the U18’s game to go on the bench.
There were unconfirmed reports that SISU’s rep on the board Onye Igwe was at the game. Definitely there were John Clarke, MD Tim Fisher and Finance man Gary Ambrose who needs a new calculator if he got the attendance to exactly nine thousand!
Coventry City may have worn 25th anniversary FA Cup winners shirts but those shirts will only get one airing as the Sky Blues threw away a place in the Fourth Round, going down to a 2-1 defeat to Southampton.
Never has a single issue divided the City support as much as the protests and boycotts which surrounded this game. Granted that all factions are pretty much unanimous in wanting SISU out of Coventry City but the furore around the protests made sure that this was all about what was going off the field, rather than trying to make progress in the greatest club cup in the world.
Around fifty supporters gathered outside the stadium to voice their objections to the way the club is being run, whilst the rest filed into the Ricoh Arena on a cold January afternoon.
Those outside, missed some of the Southampton fans unfurl a “SISU Out” banner in the away end just as Gary McSheffrey whipped in a telling cross.
Roy O’Donovan, back in the side then had a shot deflected for a corner before the City supporters were on their feet when Cyrus Christie sent over a cross which Bigirimana nodded into the path of Gary McSheffrey to rifle into the net from sixteen yards.
Southampton had included former Sky Blues Jack Cork and Danny Fox in their team and Fox applauded the City fans and was applauded back when he took a 13th minute corner which resulted from The Saints having too much room down the right which Harding and Doble exploited.
City were however, worth their lead and might had increased it, had Richard Wood got his header from a corner on target.
With Bialowski in the Saints goal looking nervous and provoking a few cheers from the 1700 strong visiting support, every time he kicked a ball well or made a catch, the Sky Blues kept the pressure up.
Richard Keogh headed a 39th minute corner across the goal and a minute later, another McSheffrey corner was flicked onto the keeper’s left hand post by Richard Wood.
McSheffrey and Christie continued to whip in crosses into the second half but in the 62nd minute, Southampton who had looked pretty disinterested in the whole shebang up until this point levelled thanks to James Ward-Prowse sweeping home a Llallana cross.
Shaun Jeffers was sent on for Roy O’Donovan but apart from Carl Baker, who did his share of the work in midfield alongside Conor Thomas, firing over with a twenty yarder, City failed to put any more pressure on the Saints goal.
Thorn tried another change with Chris Hussey coming on for Richard Wood and the left back had only been on the pitch for four minutes when Southampton got a corner. Chris Dunn got to Arron Martin’s touch but could not stop the ball from going into the net.
So substitution number three was tried by Thorn, who like the City fans must have despaired at the players inability to keep a lead yet again, and saw Josh Ruffels who has been excellent for U18’s getting some deserved first team match time.
By now, the reality of defeat had set in and a game City should never have lost turned into an FA Cup exit at the first time of asking.