COVENTRY CITY 4-1 TORQUAY UNITED BY KEV MONKS
League Cup ties against lower league opposition are seen as a cause of concern for Coventry City supporters but not this time as a better second half display saw City beat Torquay and draw Sheffield Wednesday at home in the Second Round on Wednesday September 22.
After the defeat by Millwall,changes had to be made. Patrick Suffo,Eddy Johnson and Graham Barrett were all benched whilst Tim Sherwood was dropped. In came,Gary McSheffrey,Andy Morrell,Neil Wood and Bjarni Gudjonsson.
Stuart Giddings and Isaac Osbourne were also in the original squad but were dropped on the morning of the game and the pair played for City Reserves in a behind closed doors 2-1 victory over Rushden & Diamonds at Ryton.
Calum Davenport who has been the subject of much transfer speculation this week,started the game and drew a large cheer as his name was read out by the wailing banshee of an announcer from the third radio station in Coventry.
In front of what was not a bad crowd of 6,180 and more than the performance against Millwall had merited, City had all the early pressure.
Neil Wood was first to show with a shot that Torquay keeper Arjan Van Huesen caught inside two minutes and a minute later,the freebee from Manchester United delivered a long ball for McSheffrey who crossed back in before a covering defender cleared the ball for a corner from under his own posts.
Michael Doyle then had two efforts with the first well over the East Stand goal and the second headed into the arms of the visiting keeper from a Steve Staunton cross.
The best effort came in the 14th minute when Bjarni who had knocked my glasses clean out of my hands in the pre-match kick about crossed from the right for Neil Wood to strike the ball on the half volley and Van Heusen to push the shot over the crossbar.
Four minutes later, another City corner followed and the ball eventually fell for Gudjonsson to hit a shot which was so wide,it almost ended up in the Main Stand.
Three more corners followed before Torquay finally made it over the halfway line and a cross was met by a Gareth Owen header which Shearer easily saved.
Jonathan Kuffour even at this early stage was Torquay's best players and Carey had to be alert to deal with a 32nd minute attack.
Wood again forced Van Heusen into action with a shot after a defensive error in the 34th minute as the City fans grew impatiently restless that City could not turn their pressure into goals.
The West Country side backed by a following of around 500 won a 38th minute free kick. Owen stepped up to take it and hit it so badly that the ball went out for a City throw-in.
A low Gudjonsson shot and a corner were the only action as the teams went into the break and understandably the Sky Blues were booed off.
Patrick Suffo replaced McSheffrey at the break and Torquay boss Leroy Rosenior also went for a change with Martin Phillips replacing Jason Fowler.
Louis Carey had fired wide five minutes into the second half. City won back possession from the goal kick and attacked through Gudjonsson. The Icelander whose popularity lessens with every game,ran towards the right of the goal and was brought down.
Carey took the free kick and found Suffo who did well to control the ball whilst being closely marked. The Cameroonian managed to flick the ball off a defender and into the path of Stephen Hughes who blasted into the net from ten yards.
A team is supposed to be at its most vulnerable when they have scored and so it proved as a ball down the left found Phillips who fired over when he should have scored and then the visitors won two corners.
City cleared the immediate danger, but Wood found himself caught in possession,the ball was played out to Kuffour on the left who broke through only to fire narrowly wide.
We should have now been watching a game that was all square but in the 62nd minute,City made the Gulls pay for their misses when a through ball found Patrick Suffo who nipped in between two defenders, won the ball and kept his nerve to smash the ball into the net.
City were now rampant and a Coventry corner was nodded onto the crossbar by Calum Davenport.
The Sky Blues continued to press and in the 65th minute, Patrick Suffo jinked his way past the Torquay right back,cut inside and lashed the ball from nine yards high into the roof of the net.
Andy Whing came on for Steve Staunton as Gudjonsson crossed on the right bi-line for Morrell who dived in but hurt his ankle in the process.
With the former Wrexham striker still limping, Torquay broke down the left,the ball was played inside for Jonathan Kuffour who drove a low 25 yard effort past a diving Shearer and into the net to reduce the arrears slightly and give the talented striker a goal his efforts deserved.
City were now playing their best football since they beat Grevenmacher in Perl and earned three more corners before Torquay won one which was cleared by the hardworking Richard Shaw and Calum Davenport up to Suffo who ran and then crossed for the unmarked Michael Doyle to fire across the face of the goal.
With ten minutes left, Wood's debut came to an end when he was replaced by Graham Barrett.
The change brought its just rewards as City wrapped up the match, two minutes later when Suffo found Stephen Hughes who cut the ball back for Andy Morrell to blast in from very close range.
Although the first half left a lot to be desired, the second half was a lot better and another banana skin was avoided.
HT CCFC 0-0 TUFC FT CCFC 4-1 TUFC
Goals - Stephen Hughes (52 mins)
Patrick Suffo (62 & 65 mins)
Jonathan Kuffour (73 mins)
Andy Morrell (82 mins)
Man Of The Match - Patrick Suffo who completely changed the game.
Mare Of The Match - Bjarni Gudjonsson. Somebody please draw him a map of the goal.
Shearer,Carey,Staunton (Whing 66),Shaw, Davenport,Hughes,Doyle,Wood (Barrett 81),Gudjonsson,Morrell,McSheffrey (Suffo 46) SNU Marriott,Johnson