This is what you’ve got to work with, Steve!

Coventry City – 1
Nottingham Forest – 0

No matter how much the official site tries to dress things up, this was poor. A poor performance against another of The Championship’s poor sides, and culminating in leaving with no points to show for it to boot.  The plus side, Steve Cotterill – watching from the stands – has seen exactly what he has to work with, what our limitations are, and what he needs to fix.

Rob Kelly took charge of his only game as caretaker boss, and to be honest – and perhaps unsurprisingly – didn’t really deviate too far from the unfathomable template that Steve McClaren had previous operated under, choosing to send out the following team to face the struggling Sky Blues:

Gunter   Chambers   Morgan   Hill
Moussi   Greening   McGugan
Derbyshire   Miller   Tudgay

Depending on how you want to interpret it could be seen as bolt, shapeless or perhaps just what we’re stuck with given the absence of wingers available to us.  There was some early promise – an early surge by McGugan saw him pull back for Tudgay who hit the target, but Murphy was equal to it – Derbyshire was loitering for a rebound but was offside.

As the game developed it increasingly looked like what I suppose it was – two struggling sides doing what they do best – not a fat lot.  That said, we did create some chances – Miller had  shot from distance and won a corner, he brought a save from Murphy from an effort inside the area.  With half an hour gone the home side started to probe too.

It was that familiar story though – Coventry were bereft of confidence early, but as the game wore on began to realise that the side they faced weren’t much cop either.  Christie crossed well to Platt who got the ball goalbound meaning Camp needed to make a smart save to tip the ball over.  Another ball in found Jutkiewicz (the one on the Football League Show I always think ‘he’ll do well against us’ – oh dear!).  On this occasion he missed the target.

More danger from Coventry came when Gunts slipped and was unable to prevent a ball into the box, Wes was on hand to deal with it with a typically robust challenge that saw the home fans calling for a penalty.  The resulting kerfuffle saw the ball ending up with Bell who put a dangerous ball across the box, but there was nobody on hand to make the conversion.

Hill needed to put a good last-gasp challenge in to deny Coventry a goal just before half time.  So we went into the break thinking that maybe we’d quelled the fairly incompetent looking storm from the home side, and Kelly could instill some belief in the lads to mount one of their own in the second.  Of course, we’ve seen the score, we know that fails.  The second half started as the first left off.

There was a brief interlude – much like in the first half – a nice turn from McGugan saw him evade two challenges and burst into the box where both he and (unsurprisingly) Derbyshire went to ground in rather unconvincing fashion.  The referee waved away appeals for a penalty (quite rightly from my view), and both players should count themselves lucky not to have been cautioned.

Coventry resumed the upper hand in the battle-of-the-rubbish-teams – a cracking save from Camp kept Richard Keogh off the scoresheet.  Predictably enough though, there was no clearance, a cross went in from the right hand side with no challenge finding Jutkiewicz who couldn’t really miss, and duly headed past a helpless Camp to give the home side the lead.

The pressure mounted – a flimsy punch from Camp to the edge of the area was nearly headed in by Conor Thomas but for the attentions of Clint Hill on the line to clear off the line.  Camp was on hand to deny Bell who cut in well on the right and got a decent shot away.

A long delay after an incident between Miller and Murphy in the Coventry goal – a disappointing reaction from a small number of the Forest fans, as it transpired the injury looked quite serious the Reds fans joined the home fans in applauding the prone keeper off.  I believe his condition hasn’t been deemed to be serious after the game – which is good news.

We tried to inject a bit of pace and creativity to proceedings by chucking on Findley and Majewski on for Derbyshire and Greening.  Findley was involved quickly, utilising his pace to get on the end of a McGugan ball but missing the target.  Again it was another false dawn for the Reds as the home side again started to build pressure upon us again.

A diagonal ball into the box from Clingan gave Jutkiewicz the chance of a second – but this time his header hit the top of the bar.  With ten minutes of stoppage time announced following the injury to Murphy, the big idea from Kelly to inject some much needed urgency was to take off Tudgay and put on Andy Reid.

Reidy would show a turn of pace eventually – but after the full time whistle when he couldn’t get his considerable derriere down the tunnel any quicker, without bothering his arse to acknowledge the fans.  Anyway, I digress, because the stoppage time was frustratingly awful.  Majewski looked like he cared, he found Gunts who crossed a little too waywardly to find Miller.

Findley perhaps should’ve done better when he was absolutely gifted the ball late on, but managed to spanner it over the bar with a mis-kick.  So ended the game – frustration continues, 2,191 Reds fans made the trip, a number presumably swelled by the good will surrounding Frank Clark’s arrival (the momentum of which was cut short for some with the subsequent appointment of Steve Cotterill!).

Steve Cotterill watched this one from the stands – and as I wrote on Facebook earlier – it was good of the Forest squad to not appear to make any extra special effort compared to previous games to try to deceive their new boss.  He got a great representation of what we’ve been about this season and will hopefully even now have a clear idea about how to go about improving matters.

It’s a job I don’t envy him, and one that I’ll support him in.  I’m still struggling to fully understand how we’ve become quite so shambolic in such a short space of time, but certainly reversing that trend and rebuilding us somewhere towards where we were is going to be a monumental task.  We are now second from bottom in the league.  At this stage of the season even Doncaster are better than us.