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MATCH REPORT| Exiles secure famous victory at the Ricoh Arena

19 August 2017

The Exiles secured a first league win of the season with a 1-0 triumph at Coventry City.

Debutant Reece Cole scored the solitary goal on 53 minutes, firing home from around 22 yards with a shot that crept under home goalkeeper Liam O’Brien.

And despite constant pressure following the goal, the County defence held firm to keep the home side out and secure the three points.  

Mike Flynn elected to make three changes to the side that was held to a 1-1 draw at Crewe Alexandra last week. David Pipe returned to the defence, in place of Dan Butler, as County appeared to set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

New signings Reece Cole and Joe Quigley came in for their Exiles debuts, in place of Sean Rigg and Shawn McCoulsky. Ben Tozer made his eagerly awaited return to the bench following a long injury absence.

Interestingly, Frank Nouble and Pipe were making appearances against a former employer. Nouble made 34 appearances whilst on loan at the club from Ipswich Town, scoring six goals during the 2014-15 season, with Pipe making 25 appearances for the Sky Blues during the 2002-3 season.

Mark Robins named an unchanged side from last week’s 2-0 victory over Grimsby Town. That meant the home side set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Marc McNulty leading the line.

Jodi Jones, scorer of a hat-trick on the opening weekend, operated on the right-hand side – with Stuart Beavon and Peter Vincenti the other attackers.

Mark O’Brien created the first opportunity of the game for County, but lashed over with a volley from just inside the area on four minutes.

That was the only chance created by either side in the opening ten minutes, County playing some nice intricate passing through the middle but finding it hard to break through the stubborn Coventry defence.

As the game approached the quarter-hour, it would be a fair reflection to say that County were looking the likelier to score an opener. To Coventry’s credit, they were preventing the Exiles from creating a meaningful opportunity, but County were looking dangerous at every attack.

Ben White, menacing on the left-hand side for County, looked composed going forward, but Jack Grimmer was reading everything and stopping White making dangerous runs into the area.

O’Brien flashed a header across goal that wasn’t converted, as County continued to press.

That came before Coventry created their first opportunity, although Rod McDonald headed straight at Joe Day from their first corner of the game on 20 minutes.

Reece Cole came inches away from a deserved County opener on 25 minutes. The 20-year-old drove down the Coventry right with real intent, fizzing a cross along the area that was deflected onto the post by Jordan Willis.

An injury to Coventry’s Peter Vincenti caused a temporary halt in the game as the game approached the half-hour, as County looked to press home their advantage.

Quigley almost broke through the Coventry defence on 36 minutes, only to see home goalkeeper Liam O’Brien react well and smother the attempt.

Day made a smart save to deny Grimmer with five to go in the first-half, Vincenti heading over from the resulting corner.

White fired over for County with a speculative 50-yard effort as the clock ticked into added-time, two minutes indicated by the fourth official.

And if it wasn’t for the reactions of Day, County may have fallen behind right at the end of the additional time.

Jones and McNulty combined on the County right, and floated a ball over to Vincenti. The midfielder headed back across goal for Beavon, who failed to convert from all of two yards, Day producing two point-blank saves to keep the scores level.

That brought proceedings to a close for the first-half, which despite the late scare, County clearly edged.

Dolan and O’Brien were expertly reading all the Coventry attacks, O’Brien particularly strong dealing with the aerial presence from the home-side.

And County started the second half in the same manner, Willmott inches away from connecting to a cross-field Nouble ball on 48 minutes.

Quigley did superbly well minutes later to drive past Willis and advance into the area. Dolan couldn’t quite connect to the cross.

But County weren’t kept out for long as debutant Reece Cole netted on 53 minutes.

Cole, optimistically firing from distance, somehow squeezed the ball under the goalkeeper to give County the lead.

An injury to Mark O’Brien temporarily brought the game to a halt on 57 minutes, but after treatment was okay to carry on.

McNulty created the opening Coventry attempt of the second half on the hour-mark, only to blaze high and wide after a clever counter-attack.

That seemed to spark manager Robins into action, making two substitutions to try to get his side back into the game.

Tony Andreu came on for his home debut, replacing Beavon, with Ben Stevenson also taking to the field.

And the home-side came so close to an equaliser on 65 minutes, Day making a finger-tip save to deny Stevenson.

It was clear that Coventry were getting a greater foothold in the game and Flynn retaliated with his own double substitution.

Scot Bennett replaced goal scorer Cole, with Lamar Reynolds replacing Quigley on 70 minutes.

Reynolds came so close to doubling the County lead, but shot into the side netting after waltzing past Stokes and into the area.

That forced Robins into an attacking substitution, Maxime Biamou coming on for defender Jordan Willis.

Day denied Biamou on 84 minutes, before tipping over a Jones delivery moments later.

Reynolds was booked for County right on 90 minutes, as five minutes were added on.

But Coventry City couldn’t force an equaliser as County held on comfortably for a famous away victory on the club’s first ever visit to the Ricoh Arena.

 

County: Day, Pipe, Labadie (C), White, Willmott, Dolan, Nouble, Cole (Bennett 68), O’Brien, Demetriou, Quigley (Reynolds 68’)

Subs not used: Bittner, Butler, Tozer, McCoulsky, Jahraldo

 

Coventry: O’Brien, Grimmer, Willis (Biamou 79’), McDonald, Stokes, Kelly (Stevenson 60’), Doyle (C), Vincenti, McNulty, Jones, Beavon (Andreu 60’)

Subs not used: Burge, Hyam, Pearson, Nazon

 

Referee: Paul Tierney

Attendance: 8,745 (908 away)

Next up for County: Leeds United (Away) Carabao Cup (22nd August)

 

Photo used not from today's match.


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