Coventry away – low expectations exceeded
It’s fair to say that there wasn’t a huge amount of optimism ahead of this one. A slow start to the season, the perpetual dearth of strikers, and the prospect of seeing Ellis Simms line up against us seemed to tick all the boxes for another away day that you’d mentally put down as a character-building experience. The fact that we haven’t beaten Coventry away in my lifetime (or anywhere in Chris Rigg’s lifetime) didn’t help matters either.
Anyway, at around lunchtime we rocked up at the Longford Engine pub, which was a surprisingly picturesque gaff showing the early Barclays, and joined a few familiar faces from the London Branch and elsewhere. Supping our Madris from plastic cups, everyone seemed to be trying to steer the conversation onto anything but the upcoming game. Our fans generally mingled with theirs with no bother; I do feel the weird rivalry with Coventry is partially fuelled these days by the “Get the Badge in, Leeds would’ve taken more” crowd on social media rather than anything tangible.
Spot the lad who remembered we had to go to the match...
The pints were flowing nicely, but the mood was dampened a bit when one of the lads reminded us that we would have to leave the pub to go to a football game at some stage. This was my first competitive game since the Luton home leg, so I was quite looking forward to cheering the team on, even if like everyone else I wasn’t expecting much in the way of goals or points. We headed down to the CBS Arena, and the atmosphere was subtly charged in that way you get with these slightly edgy fixtures. Both sets of fans were in good voice, with the Coventry drum as irritating as ever - I’d thought that we’d see fewer of those after we escaped League One, but they seem to be creeping up the football pyramid alongside that naff “Ha! You’re shit!” chant aimed at opposition goalkeepers. Tin pottery is on the rise.
Flying the flag
On to the game, it seemed that our pre-match pessimism was mostly misplaced. The players showed a lot more steel than the last time we were here. You could tell Coventry are incredibly well-drilled, but they were significantly weaker without Gyökeres and Hamer, two players who really should’ve been playing at a higher level years ago. Palmer looked dangerous for them throughout, though Simms thankfully had a fairly quiet day. I didn’t really get why pockets of our fans booed him off the pitch in the second half. He did a good job for us, and it’s not his fault Frank Lampard recalled him in an act of desperation, or that our owners didn’t fancy forking out eight million quid for him.
Both sides had a couple of chances to nick it towards the end, but Callum McFadzean’s ridiculously huge brother denied us with some good blocks, and O’Nien and Ballard stayed solid in the face of everything City threw at them. All in all, it was a decent enough day out and a good point on the board. Hopefully when the Southampton game rolls around our fan podcasts and WhatsApp groups will have something more interesting to chat about than the lack of strikers. I genuinely switched one of them off the other day and put a True Crime podcast on instead because it was less depressing.