Coventry Copsewood were looking for a statement result yesterday afternoon against Bilston Town to cement their position in mid table. Ten points from their last six matches going into this one had put the club in a mid-table position and it’s mainly a case of staying consistent to avoid getting dragged into a relegation battle between now and April.
Bilston Town were also coming into this match in a run of form with 11 points from their last six league matches. The Steelmen have gradually climbed the table over the course of the season and are now challenging for the play offs for the last few months of the campaign.
The atmosphere around Allard Way prior to kick off was mainly positive with both sets of supporters optimistic for the second half of the season. The bar was well presented and the facilities around the ground were good for the level. There was a notable following for Bilston who supported the team well throughout the 90 minutes.
The ground is a brilliant place to visit for local groundhoppers around the West Midlands. It can be accessed by taking the 13 bus from Hales Street at Coventry City centre, stopping at Bromleigh Drive and taking a fairly short walk to the ground.
Starting line ups
Coventry Copsewood’s starting line up featured Olly Manuel starting in goal and Ben Atkins captaining the team from central defence. The formation appeared to be a 4-3-3 with a front two of Sean Kavanagh and Eden Mukenge being supported by Sam Ellis from attacking midfield.
There were three changes from the team that started against Sutton United last weekend with Jean Gomes coming into the team and playing in holding midfield.
The starting line up for Bilston Town included Kai Lloyd as the starting goalkeeper and Aaron Weston captaining the team from left back. The formation looked like a 4-2-3-1 with Samuel Yankson leading the line up front and being supported by Adam Nazir and Ethan Pearce on the wings.
There were two changes from the team that started against Wolves Sporting last weekend with Ethan Pearce coming into the team and playing on the left wing of a midfield three.
The first twenty minutes of the match were fairly cagey with both teams settling into it. Coventry Copsewood started the better of the two with Bilston gradually growing into the match as it went on.
Jean Gomes was excellent in the first half for Coventry Copsewood from holding midfield and was regularly breaking up the play. This stifled Bilston’s momentum on the ball and allowed Coventry Cospewood to get into the match and cause the Steelmen some problems in the final third.
Ben Atkins had a good early chance at the back post from a corner for Coventry Copsewood in the 21st minute which was a signal of intent. Eden Mukenge also had a good chance in the box which was instinctively saved by Kai Lloyd in the 27th minute. The hosts were looking dangerous in the opening half an hour and were creating notable chances in front of goal.
Bilston started to build some momentum in the final fifteen minutes of the first half. Samuel Yankson got into a good position from a corner and had a header at the back post saved by Olly Manuel in the 31st minute.
Bilston’s rhythm was stifled in the opening 45 minute by unfortunate injuries to Angelo Franco and Ethan Pearce who had to leave the field of play and were substituted.
Substitute Eesa Sawyers came off the bench for Bilston for Ethan Pearce and made an immediate impact. He had a great chance to open the scoring, but Olly Manuel did well to anticipate the play and come out to stop the shot. Eden Mukenge had a brilliant chance at the other end and took a shot that went narrowly wide of the left post in the 39th minute.
A moment of genuine quality opened the scoring near the end of half with the Steelmen taking the lead. Lukman Darboe played an excellent defence splitting ball over the top that found Adam Nazir in the box who finished across Olly Manuel into the bottom right corner to make it 1-0 going into half time.
Sean Kavanagh had a chance late on to equalise for Coventry Copsewood but Kai Lloyd did well to anticipate the shot and push it over the post.
The start of the second half was not as frenetic as the last fifteen minutes of the first and took a while to get going. It felt like Bilston had a degree of control over the match which they didn’t have in the first half and were starting to pass the ball around with a bit more confidence.
A key player for Bilston was Lukman Darboe from holding midfield who gave the Steelmen that composure to build attacks. He was excellent throughout the match but stood out in the second half and made an impact from midfield. The 4-2-3-1 formation helped Bilston in this match with the holding midfield of Jake Short and Lukman Darboe looking well balanced and shielding the defence well.
The Steelmen made it 2-0 late on and it was a good passage of play from the visitors. An excellent run into the box resulted in a blocked shot. The shot fell into the path of substitute Soms Sibanda who anticipated the play excellently and finished well to give Bilston a two-goal lead in the 75th minute.
Coventry Copsewood responded and got a late goal from a corner in the 85th minute to set up a nervy finish for Bilston thanks to a header at the near post.
The best chance for Coventry Copsewood to get an equaliser came near injury time when a good ball into the box found Bryan Kohyrelon who couldn’t quite get the ball down to finish. Bilston also had a late chance to get a third with Sam Yankson making an inspired run towards goal from midfield before dragging his shot narrowly wide.
Not long after the referee blew for the full-time whistle with the Steelmen taking home a valuable three points.
This was a quality game yesterday between two sides that like to get the ball down and attack in the final third. Both of their strengths are up front, and the match reflected that with a lot of chances in it.
Coventry Copsewood will feel disappointed not to get something from it as they had the chances. The main positive was the fact they were creating good chances in front of goal throughout the 90 minutes against one of the best teams in the league.
It’s just a case of taking them but based on this match they should be fine and looking forward to a stress free second half of the season. The front two of Sean Kavanagh and Eden Mukenge were good in this game. They were getting into some excellent positions around the box and linking up well.
Bilston were good in this match and managed to get a result at one of the tougher places to go for visiting teams. The most pleasing thing was that it was a team performance that got them the result rather than just relying on individual quality.
Haydn Hall had a good game at the back and was reading the game well from central defence. Aaron Weston played well at left back and had an underrated game for the visitors defensively. The holding midfield of Jake Short and Lukman Darboe were excellent and did well to cancel Coventry Copsewood out, especially in the second half.
Sam Yankson looked dangerous up front and was playing some good passes in the final third. There’s also a lot of quality on the bench with the likes of Soms Sibanda and Eesa Sawyers coming on and making an impact in the second half.
Overall, a pleasing performance from Bilston and if they can win like this away from home between now and April, they stand a good chance of the top five.
FT score: Coventry Copsewood 1-2 Bilston Town
Man of the Match: Lukman Darboe (Bilston Town)
Match report written by Rhys Beardmore for the Midland Football League
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