Pilgrims Ship Sunk At Highfield Road

Last updated : 20 November 2004 By KevMonks
Coventry City went some way to making amends for the nightmare that was Leicester with a home victory over Plymouth Argyle.
With rumours abounding that Dion Dublin was signing and the board wanted Peter Reid to resign,the underfire City manager as expected made wholesale changes for the first visit of Plymouth Argyle to Highfield Road since,1966 when The Beatles were top of the charts and Harold Wilson was running the country.
Back came Richard Shaw, Louis Carey, Graham Barrett and Eddy Johnson who started up front with Gary McSheffrey after Reid decided to drop his well ridiculed 4-5-1 formation.
Now the defeat at them from up the M69 had riled every Coventry supporter at home and abroad and news of protests had been increasing all week.
Two banners were held aloft in the West Terrace as the teams came out, the one I could read from some distance away simply stated "Reid Out". Both were put down as Luke Steele put his things into the goal net, then took them back as the team changed round ,so City were attacking the West Terrace and the match kicked off.
In side two minutes, City were already better than on Monday when good work from Gary McSheffrey on the left, saw him find Eddy Johnson who hit a left footed snap shot wide from twelve yards.
With Michael Doyle and Stephen Hughes able to play in midfield, City were able to go forward and took the lead in the 7th minute when Peter Gilbert headed away a free kick for a corner. Doyle took the kick and found Andy Morrell.
The now midfielder who was not given the contract extension he wanted due to Peter Reid's hand's being tied, headed goalwards only for Keith Lasley to clear it off the line.
The clearance from the summer signing from Motherwell was not good and went only a few yards to the waiting Stephen Hughes who duly smashed it into the net.
The mood amongst the City supporters lifted and in the 14th minute, things were going very nicely thank you very much when a foul on Gary McSheffrey brought a free kick on the left flank in front of the Main Stand.
Graham Barrett took the kick and sent over a ball which curled past everyone in the penalty area and as the bemused Plymouth keeper Romain Larriou looked on, the ball went into the goal at the far post.
The visitors from the famous Naval City, clearly did not look the same side that had beaten Wigan away last weekend and were allowing City to put together passes.
One such move came in the 18th minute when Barrett went down the left and crossed for McSheffrey who curled wide when a ball to Eddy Johnson on his left looked the better option.
The same left flank continued to provide rich pickings for the Sky Blues,with Eddy Johnson able to get round the back of the Pilgrims defence and send over a cross which was cleared for a throw. When the ball came back in,McSheffrey headed wide but was offside.
Plymouth who brought with them a following of over 2,000, play with one up front in Micky Evans and in the 26th minute,a long ball found Evans through on goal. Thankfully,Richard Shaw was alert enough to take the ball off Evans toes and clear for a corner. Shaw cleared the resulting flag kick up to Eddy Johnson who was upended and a free kick awarded. Doyle swung the ball in
and Graham Coughlan headed out for a Coventry corner.
On the half hour mark,Pilgrims boss Bobby Williamson who was in charge of Kilmarnock and Hibs before moving to the southern most Football League ground, made a change on the half hour mark when he replaced Lasley with former Millwall striker Steve Crawford.
A 37th minute booking for Michael Doyle by referee Mr Jones earned the wrath of the City supporters who felt that Paul Wotton had dived as the City midfielder came in for the ball.
City continued to push and a minute later,Andy Morrell, from inside the penalty area, booted the ball skywards,Larriou came out and half punched away. With the keeper out of his goal, both McSheffrey and Hughes tried to shoot but found their efforts blocked by some back to the wall defending.
At half-time,there was the usual penalties involving young kids. One contestant must have been three or four and struggled to hit the ball from the spot. With Sky Blue Sam being extra benevolent, the ones the youngster did put away were cheered with relish.
When the teams came back to the pitch, it was the away supporters who were the ones cheering. Within ninety seconds, Mickey Evans got past Stuart Giddings and lobbed the ball from twenty yards,high over luke Steele and into the net.
Evans was booked in the 52nd minute and four minutes later, a bad ball by Louis Carey which I think was his sixth and he still gets a shirt ahead of Andy Whing who is expected to be loaned out on Monday, was sent back in. It left Richard Shaw no choice but to get across Evans and a free kick was awarded on the edge of the D.
City's wall looked dubious and it was easily by-passed by Paul Wotton's kick which grazed Steele's left hand post and went out for a corner.
Lee Makel became the third caution of the afternoon in the 58th minute for one too many niggly tackles on Doyle.
Makel was replaced by Tony Capaldi in the 62nd minute and Reid followed suit. To a huge ironic cheer, Dele Adebola came on for his first appearance since coming from a three month loan spell at Bradford, replacing Graham Barrett who again was not best pleased with the decision.
Adebola immediately won a header in the air and then drew chants of "Ooh Adebola" as the Nigerian raced down the left, did very well to keep the ball in play,cut inside and hit a low effort which Larriou had force out for a corner.
As the last of the sunshine disappeared and twilight arrived,Gary McSheffrey curled over from twenty yards and after a saving tackle from Carey gave the visitors a corner, Dele was involved again as he worked well to chest down the ball and ran at the Plymouth defence before squaring the ball for Andy Morrell on the far side to hit a shot which was blocked.
Now clearly enjoying the crowd's adulation, Adebola just missed when he attempted to bang home a 77th minute corner.
Two more changes followed with David Worrell making way for Steve Milne and in the 84th minute, Patrick Suffo came on for Eddy Johnson.
Four minutes of time were added on by Mr Jones and Adebola who had been putting him self about nicely like he was supposed to do when Gary McAllister originally signed him, found space on the left,cut in and hit a low shot which was forced out for a corner.
When the final whistle came,huge roars of relief echoed around Highfield Road. However, in the enclave that house the visitors,they were far from happy. As members of the visitors hooligan element were attracting themselves to the attention of the police and stewards, a bottle was thrown in the direction of the assistant referee as he made his way back to the centre circle. Thankfully it missed and the combined force of the police and stewards were able to let those not intent on causing trouble make their way home.
ATT 15,314
GOALS - Stephen Hughes (7)
Graham Barrett (14)
Micky Evans (47)
Booked Doyle,Evans,Makel
Man Of The Match - Stephen Hughes who worked hard all game took the votes from Adie Williams
Steele,Carey,Giddings,Shaw,Williams,Doyle,Hughes, Morrell,Barrett (Adebola 62),McSheffrey, Johnson (Suffo 84) SNU Shearer,Staunton,