Not too many games finish 3-3, not too many teams finish games with nine men, for last night’s game against Portsmouth to finish 3-3 with ourselves having been both two men down and two goals down with 15 minutes to go, is truly something remarkable, one of those games that will live long in the memory.
Football Is Mad
How to analyse one of the most unique and bizarre games of football in recent Coventry City history?
From the atmosphere of Fratton Park on a Tuesday night, the weight of expectation that Portsmouth seemed to be playing under, the early goal scored, the sudden reversal of momentum, the first red card, the penalty, the second red card, that late equaliser, the game whipped itself up into a whirlwind that no-one involved could avoid getting sucked into. It provided a truly unique set of circumstances that somehow made an equaliser for 3-3 with just nine men on the pitch feel almost inevitable.
If there is anything that can be taken from such a game, it’s to never give up on a game of football. That’s why you throw your body on the line to block a shot even if you’re confident your team has won. That’s why you keep on attacking even when you think the game is lost.
Going forward, the hope has to be that the team uses this game as a blueprint not to give up on games until the final whistle. It is the kind of spirit that Coventry City sides in recent years, even the most successful ones, have never really possessed, it’s the kind of spirit that gets fans excited about going to games.
Kastaneer The Maverick
I’m of the firm belief that every team needs one maverick, that player who wants to be centre of attention and can conjure something from nothing. From David McGoldrick, Duckens Nazon to Bright Enobakhare last season, that maverick figure has been a key role in recent memorable Coventry City sides. If there is one player from this current side that can fulfil that role, it is clearly Gervane Kastaneer.
However, the danger with handing that status to one player is that it can give them the free rein to play for themselves rather than the team. In one sense, Kastaneer’s two yellow cards for lunging, desperate tackles, were laudable in their effort to win the ball back for his side, however, there was more than whiff of selfishness in the manner he threw himself around the pitch for the 11 minutes he was on.
As we saw in his wonderful goal against Bristol Rovers, Kastaneer is a supremely talented player who can and will win games for us on his own. His biggest problem appears to be that he is incredibly reckless without the ball, which has seen him booked for just over every 13 minutes he has been on the pitch for us thus far.
This first red card can be excused for now as overzealousness, perhaps a result also of not quite understanding his role in the side yet. As much as Mark Robins has to find ways to harness Kastaneer’s abilities in a positive manner, the player himself has to reduce the negative qualities he has thus far shown.
If not, Mark Robins has shown he will not indulge players for long for not fitting in to the team dynamic.
Bad Defending Or Individual Errors?
Having limited our opponents thus far to relatively few opportunities, finally conceding a first league goal of the season seemed to badly rattle our back-line. For the next 20 minutes, players who had looked so composed in the opening few games played like rabbits in the headlights of the Tuesday night Fratton Park floodlights.
For all the panic during that post-first-goal period, the two other goals came from individual errors from Marko Maroši and Kyle McFadzean, with Portsmouth creating relatively little else over the course of the game from pressure of their own.
There are two different conclusions that can be drawn from this defensive performance. The first is that it was only individual errors, ones that may not happen again, that separated us from an excellent victory away at one of the promotion favourites. The other, is that the errors came as a result of playing against a team better able to force those mistakes than had faced before.
As it’s early in the season, we’ll need more evidence to draw more definitive conclusions as to our defensive quality. A concern heading into the next few games has to be whether teams will follow Portsmouth’s example in pressing us with intensity, alongside looking to put Marko Maroši under pressure from crosses and set-pieces.
While the mistakes can be learned from, they’ll need to be learned from quickly to avoid becoming pinpointed as a weakness throughout the season.