How We’re Doing
Having not won three league games in a row over over 3 years, our win over Notts County was surprisingly straightforward. After struggling to break down a side clearly playing for the draw in the first half, a moment of madness from Notts forward Danny Haynes was the start of an implosion from our opponents. Notts County were clearly a side that had issues with anger management and were lucky to keep 11 men on the pitch for as long as 40 minutes. Their second half performance was indicative of a side low on confidence, standing awe-struck as the Sky Blues tucked away 3 well-taken goals with consummate ease. They weren’t a bad side and you imagine that with some improvements in their organisation and emotional control, they will steer themselves out of trouble.
Despite Notts County’s errors, Coventry put in an impressive performance. They didn’t panic even when they struggled to break down Notts County in the first-half and it felt that it was only a matter of time before Coventry opened the scoring. Once again the usual suspects brought their A game, Fleck and Jordan Clarke were calm on the ball and were effective distributors. Leon Clarke and Callum Wilson were energetic up-front, Leon once again looking a class above third-tier defenders and taking his two goals with supreme ease. Moussa was enigmatic but had moments wherein the Notts defenders didn’t know how to remove the ball from his feet. Furthermore Aaron Phillips put in a decent shift at right-back but is clearly several grades below Cyrus Christie, both in attack where many of his crosses were overhit and floated to the opposite touchline and in defence where his lack of height, strength and over-eagerness to tackle make him a potential liability, although that wasn’t too much of a problem last Saturday.
Sorry for the extended review of last Saturday’s match but there has been little else to talk about in a quiet week at the club. Cyrus Christie and Billy Daniels will both be available on Friday night but it may be an unnecessary risk to start them so soon. The only other piece of news is that Fleck is suspended after picking up his 5th yellow card of a season with an obvious lunge in the final minutes last week, Barton will be handed a rare start in the centre to compensate. Also Jamar Loza is ineligible.
Last Time We Met
Officially this is the first meeting between AFC Wimbledon and Coventry although we all know there was a club of the same name that existed before. Our only dealing with AFC Wimbledon has been the signing of and returning of Chris Hussey, for me an unfair target of the boo-boys post Championship relegation.
The last time we played the old Wimbledon it was a shell of the once famous club, already in the process of becoming that club in Buckinghamshire, Coventry easily defeated Wimbledon 3-0 in Milton Keynes in February 2004, completing a league double as Wimbledon were relegated to what became known as League One. The last time Coventry played Wimbledon in London was in September 2002, Coventry winning 1-0 at Selhurst Park. The last time Coventry played Wimbledon in their spiritual home was in February 1992 before the inception of the Premier League in the old First Division, Wimbledon winning 1-0.
How Are They Doing?
After escaping relegation last season under the leadership of Dons legend Neal Ardley, they’ve had an up-and-down season, by the eighth game they were 3rd in League Two but have dropped down to 15th following a winless spell, ended last Saturday in a surprise win against Rochdale. It will be interesting to see how seriously this game is taken by them, on the one hand the FA Cup is obviously a prestigious competition with a potential revenue generating big-name should the get lucky and reach the 3rd round. However they’ve also got to take care of their league status in a fiercely competitive division where the margin between success, promotion to League One, and failure, relegation to non-league, is small but has high stakes.
Their team has been revolutionised since the sacking of Terry Brown last autumn, the man who led them out of non-league. Only Sammy Moore remains a fixture in the side that won promotion from the Conference over 2 years ago as Ardley has attempted to design a more professional atmosphere around the club.
They do have some interesting players to concern us in front of the BT Sports cameras. Their top-scorer is Michael Smith, a classically built lower-league target-man, who is currently on loan from Charlton and may be ineligible for cup competitions. Should he be unavailable they’ll pick from Jack Midson, the man who scored the winner against Fleetwood to keep them in the league last April, or son of Teddy, Charlie Sheringham, who’s struggled to make an impact in League football thus far in his career.
Also to keep an eye on is former Cardiff City youngster Kevin Sainte-Luce who is a pacey, skillful winger, somewhat inconsistent but is eye-catching when he gets it right. They also have ex-Norwich youngster George Francomb who’s transitioned from right-back to right-midfield and is considered one of the better players in League Two after numerous loan spells at that level.
Friday night offers us the chance to sit back and enjoy a Coventry match. Personally the stakes are very low tomorrow, a win would be nice but a loss, although embarrassing, may help the team in a perverse manner by reducing any air of complacency ahead of next week’s tougher trip to Bradford. However I’d still prefer Coventry to win this, perhaps the opposition offer us a little more romance than your usual Cup tie against League Two opposition but the FA Cup still matters to me and I’d love to see my club make the national headlines for the right reasons with a high profile giant killing this season.
As for predictions, I struggle to see AFC Wimbledon being capable of beating us by anything other than an off-day on our part. The loss of Fleck is the only area of concern, in that it means that Adam Barton will have to replace both his energy and the passing rhythm that Fleck provides us, however on his day Barton is fully capable of doing so and providing he’s allowed time and space to assert himself he could excel at Kingsmeadow.
I predict a 2-1 win for Coventry.