Coventry Rangers were going into this match in a good run of form and were unbeaten in the league from three matches played. The club’s matches for August are all at home which gives them the opportunity to build some momentum going into the autumn period of the season. The club will be challenging for the league title this season and have a strong squad for Division Two.
Cadbury Athletic are transitioning to a new manager following the end of Oliver Hartley and Sam Smith’s successful reign and have brought in former Continental Star manager Daniel Moses. It’s been a difficult start for the club with two losses from two games and it might take a bit of time before things start to click.
The weather was sunny and clear before kick off and the conditions were excellent for a football match. The ground at the Coventry Technical Sporting club offers a brilliant view of the pitch and is fairly accessible to get to by going on the 18 bus from Coventry or walking from Tile Hill train station. The clubhouse is full of character and shows what the club have achieved in terms of honours and trophies. The atmosphere was good before kick off and it felt friendly and welcoming at the club.
AFC Coventry Ranger’s starting line-up featured Jack Hartopp starting in goal and Jordan Powell leading the team as the skipper in the number ten role. Connoll Farrell lead the line as the number nine and the formation appeared to be a 4-2-3-1 with Jacob Dumbleton and Samuel Dunkley playing on the wings. Overall, there were three changes from the team that started against Birmingham United last weekend with Charlie Hyman coming into midfield and playing as the number 8.
The starting line-up for Cadbury Athletic included Fraser Oliver in goal and Andrew Cooper playing in midfield and leading the team as the skipper. The formation appeared to be a 4-3-3 with Callum Devlin leading the line as the number nine and being supported on the wings by Darren Green and Danico Johnson. There were four changes overall from the team that started against Alcester Town last weekend with Cerbrant Deleon starting and playing at right-back.
AFC Coventry Rangers started the first half on the front foot and settled into the match well. They managed to take control of the first twenty minutes to open a two-goal lead. Both of the goals came from corners and were very similar.
The first came from a header from James Ritson in the box which was put into the path of Samuel Dunkley who finished well to make it 1-0 in the 9th minute. James Ritson got a telling header from another corner which found Samuel Dunkley again to make it 2-0 in the 16th minute.
Coventry were in the ascendancy throughout the opening 20 minutes and it took a bit of time before Cadbury grew into the match. Connoll Farrell was linking up well and it looked like Cadbury were getting over run in midfield in the first half.
One of the players who stood out for Cadbury in the first half was Fraser Oliver who made a string of great saves to keep the visitors in the match. One of them was saving a shot by Connoll Farrell in the 38th minute while Coventry were on top. It was not quite clicking for the visitors going forward in the first half and they struggled to get into a rhythm.
Near the end of the first half Coventry made it 3-0 with a great ball into the box finding Charlie Hyman who finished well. Cadbury responded at the end of the half against the run of play. A well worked move found Darren Green who finished into the bottom right corner to make it 3-1.
Cadbury played a lot better throughout the second half and showed a lot of character in front of a passionate Coventry Rangers fanbase. It would have been easy to settle for damage limitation but the way the visitors went forward was a huge positive from the match. None the less, Coventry were still clinical in front of goal and managed to take their chances well.
Connoll Farrell finished well into the bottom left corner in the 49th minute to make it 4-1 to the hosts. Cadbury started to relax a bit from then on and played their natural passing game by working balls into the box. Despite the scoreline, the effort from the visitors was commendable in one of their toughest matches of the season.
Danico Johnson was trying to make things happen on the left wing and had a shot deflected which came to the path of Callum Devlin who finished well to make it 4-2 in the 62nd minute. The visitors were starting to build some momentum from then on. Danico Johnson was linking up well with Callum Devlin who had a chance that narrowly went wide of the goal a few minutes later.
Danico Johnson was fouled by Callum Regan for a penalty in the 68th minute. This proved to be a key moment in the match as Callum Devlin’s shot was well saved by Jack Hartopp which prevented the match from having a nervy finish. Coventry Rangers went straight up the other end a few minutes later and substitute Curtis Cutts finished well to make it 5-2 and effectively seal the match.
He managed to score again in the 82nd minute from a brilliant header to make it 6-2. Despite a few half chances for both teams late on for substitute Owen Wassell for Coventry and Danico Johnson for Cadbury, the match finished with a full-time score of 6-2.
AFC Coventry Rangers showed their quality throughout this match and should be competing near the top of the table this season in division two. A player who really stood out was James Ritson in defence who was constantly heading key balls away and making crucial tackles. Rory Turnbull had an underrated game from left-back and looked defensively solid throughout.
Connoll Farrell linked up the play well as the number nine and looked comfortable going forward. Another key aspect is the depth in the squad with substitutes Curtis Cutts and Owen Wassell impressing and effectively being like for like changes.
Despite the defeat, there were some positive moments from the visitors. The way the team fought back in the second half is a huge positive and shows they have character. At one stage they came close to making it 4-3 and setting up a tense finish.
Danico Johnson looked good on the left wing and was positive on the ball. He was not popular with the home fans who thought he went down a bit easy. None the less, he put in a good shift for the visitors to try and get something out of it. He’s got the potential to become a fan favourite for Cadbury supporters as he always tries to make something happen.
Cerbrant Deleon had an underrated game from right-back and looked solid defensively. He managed to win the ball back well on a number of occasions. Fraser Oliver was reliably good in goal and made some excellent saves. Callum Devlin looked a bit isolated up front but managed to get into some good positions for the visitors which is encouraging.
It’s going to be a long season and Cadbury supporters might need to be patient and take the long view as the signs are there, but it might need a bit of time.
Both teams look set for intriguing seasons and both are worth following from August to the end of April.
FT score: AFC Coventry Rangers 6-2 Cadbury Athletic
Man of the match: James Ritson
Match report written by Rhys Beardmore for the Midland Football League
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