Town:Mark Halstead, Matt Tootle, Jermaine Grandison, Nat Knight-Percival, Abu Ogogo, Mat Sadler, James Collins (Tyrone Barnett, 70), Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, Larnell Cole, Liam Lawrence (c), Sullay Kaikai
Subs not used: Jayson Leutwiler (GK), Ian Black, Junior Brown, Liam McAlinden, Mark Ellis, Jordan Clark
Coventry City: Reice Charles-Cook, Chris Stokes, Romain Vincelot, Reda Johnson, John Fleck (Bryn Morris, 77), Adam Armstrong, Sam Ricketts (c), Aaron Martin, Jacob Murphy (Ruben Lameiras, 82), Marc Antoine-Fortune (Marcus Tudgay, 81), Ryan Kent
Subs not used: Lee Burge (GK), Conor Thomas, Jim O’Brien, Ryan Haynes
Referee: C. Sarginson
Assistants: A. Bennett & A. Bromley
Fourth Official: A. Fearn
Martin Wild reports from Ricoh Arena
Town slipped to a second successive SKY Bet League One defeat at promotion chasing Coventry this afternoon. In a one-sided first half, goals from Adam Armstrong – on loan from Newcastle - and a Marc Antoine-Fortune penalty in stoppage time gave the home team a comfortable lead. And City went on to inflict Town’s heaviest defeat during Micky Mellon’s tenure, with Armstrong netting again to make it 3-0.
Mellon made two changes to his side following their midweek setback at Spotland. Skipper Liam Lawrence wore the armband as he replaced Jordan Clark, and there was a return to a former stomping ground for Jermaine Grandison with Mark Ellis joining Clark on the bench.
Town – wearing their recently introduced third kit of yellow and black stripes – kicked off attacking the end of the stadium where their support were gathered at an overcast, but massively impressive Ricoh Arena. And there was an early scare for Salop with Mat Sadler’s challenge on Ryan Kent in the area attracting loud appeals from the home fans. Thankfully, the award was a corner, otherwise there might have been a worse start to the game than the one on Tuesday night!
Town’s only attempt on goal in the opening 10 minutes came when James Collins put a powerful header into the arms of newcomer Reice Charles-Cook from a Matt Tootle cross, and Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro’s low ball in from Lawrence’s exquisite pass to find him, was scrambled away inside the six yard box.
There were early signs of Shrews’ creativity and we looked set for another entertaining game of football, with City having started the campaign really well – particularly at home. The home fans were left howling their disapproval when Sadler checked Kent again in the box, and were furious less than a minute later when Kent took another tumble under Lawrence’s challenge, with Town surviving a third penalty scare in just 21 minutes. In fairness, the linesman on the far side was very quick to indicate a corner although all the abuse was directed to the man in the middle. Kent was a real livewire and was involved in everything creative, and as Coventry continued on the front foot, Armstrong roared past Grandison. Just as he was about to shoot, Jermaine leaned on him and down he went meaning the shot was scuffed and easily saved by Mark Halstead. The stadium went into uproar as once again the official waved away the protestations.
After 26 minutes, City got their reward when top scorer Armstrong saw some space ahead of him and lashed the ball right into Halstead’s left hand corner with the keeper powerless to do anything about it. You couldn’t begrudge the Sky Blues their lead. They’d had a 15 minute purple spell and had capitalised after a period of intense pressure that might have resulted in a gap opening between the teams.
Four minutes after the goal the hosts missed two great chances to pull away. Kent skipped away to bring a one-on-one with Halstead which the keeper kept out with an outstretched boot and when Armstrong fed Jacob Murphy 15 yards out, you feared the worst. His goalbound effort was deflected behind and Shrews were desperate for a bit of possession to break up City’s obvious momentum.
With 34 minutes on the clock John Fleck almost made it two with a thunderbolt from all of 30 yards but Halstead made a top drawer save to turn the ball over. Minutes later, Fleck picked up a yellow for a trip on JLAA but the free-kick from Lawrence was wasted. Town’s inability to keep hold of the ball repeatedly handed Coventry the impetus to mount some pretty menacing soirees going forward with plenty of pace and movement in the side. One such venture into the final third ended with Murphy denied by another great save by Halstead, and then Kent dragged a shot wide from yet another City attempt on goal when he ought to have done much better.
In first half stoppage time – and having escaped FOUR penalty appeals - NKP was booked for a foul on Antoine-Fortune and the striker picked himself up to despatch the spot-kick beyond Halstead’s despairing dive.
It really had been a bit of a mauling for Town in a dominant first 45 for Tony Mowbray’s side, and they were full value for a two goal lead at the halfway stage.
Half-Time: Coventry City 2 Town 0
With no half-time changes, Shrewbury started reasonably well with Sullay Kaikai’s free kick a yard too high in the opening minutes. Town’s fans away to our right broke into a continuous chant of “Micky Mellon’s Barmy Army!” in an attempt to rally their side, but they’d had very little to get too excited about with 57 minutes on the watch.
Kaikai’s inviting cross evaded Jean-Louis at the back post as Shrews took advantage of a quick throw-in to get the youngster some room down the left. The delivery might have been with the unorthodox right peg but it wasn’t a million miles away from its intended target. And then Kaikai smashed a ball right across goal that was turned behind by a City defender who couldn’t have known too much about it.
At the other end, Sadlers’ nemesis Kent drew another illegal challenge that brought a yellow for the Town defender, and then Armstrong demonstrated his worth to the Sky Blues with his second of the afternoon. He lashed a third beyond Halstead after latching onto Antoine-Fortune’s slide rule pass on 65 minutes for another quality finish, and an eighth goal of the season.
Collins’ afternoon ended 20 minutes from time with not even scraps to feed off since that early header. Tyrone Barnett was sent onto the field and soon after his introduction Jean-Louis sent a shot straight at Charles-Cook. Other than some pretty impressive first half catches, the keeper had had a redundant hour or so and the contest was all but over anyway. The possession stats might have been brought back towards 50/50 but only the margin in the scoreline was of any interest to Messrs Mellon and Jackson, who stood with arms folded and hands in pockets in front of the dug-outs.
As the intensity of play had fizzled out largely after the third goal, and Mowbray had broken up any Town possession with quickfire changes, City comfortably went on to condemn Town to a sixth league defeat in eleven outings.
Full-Time: Coventry City 3-0 Shrewbsury Town