I, like many Notts County fans, went to Coventry feeling very optimistic. The majority of supporters whom I spoke to said we they would take a point – something I strongly agreed with.
I felt our hopes mainly relied upon our players being eager to start well, or perhaps the Sky Blues underestimating us.
For the first 15 minutes I would say we played quite upbeat, however every time Coventry attacked they broke with so much space available to them.
Notts seemed jagged and very unconnected going forward - every time space presented itself to us, one of the Notts players would just wastefully lump the ball forward or rush the play.
Seriously, I don’t understand why at times we were trying to force the play at all?
Anyone would have realised our way into the game was playing Coventry at their own game, keeping it nice and simple but making space to move forward.
We played quite wide, yet certain players remained narrow or closely tied to the opposition, which in effect made it harder to bring them into the game – so a pattern emerged whereby the centre of the park wasn’t widely used and we just attempted to get balls from out wide into the box.
This is another gripe for me - there was nobody spread out for rebounds!
Terry Hawkridge played some good football, and our best chance came from him trying to get forward. However, there were balls played into the box where Shola Ameobi was very isolated, strike partner Jon Stead seemed missing for the majority of the game.
I mean, I’m not overly worried. I think the opening-day nerves got the better of our players and the Ricoh Area is a grand stage which may have got them caught in those headlights Kevin Nolan mentioned in his post-match interview.
Yet it was clear after Coventry started pressing more, perhaps around 12th minute that Notts desperately lack someone direct (*cough* *cough* Jorge Grant) and someone with pace upfront.
And the usual suspects can’t really be blamed for the three goals conceded. I thought Adam Collin actually put in a very decent performance in goal.
Dan Jones disappointed me from a defensive point of view, and I thought Richard Duffy didn’t do a very good job of organising his defence.
Liam Walker didn’t seem the player who could change the outcome, with Elliot Hewitt also seeming like a bystander on the pitch.
The issue largely lies with the tactics, line-up and organising in-game. I also felt we didn’t match the Sky Blues with determination, passion or energy – in fact they looked the fitter squad.
I don’t want to get started with the referee, he killed any chance we had to gain momentum by bringing the ball back at every oppatunity and how the hell he brought into some of Coventry’s poor ice skating tactics I will never know!
Most of the squad just didn’t turn up, they didn’t support each other and we never really seemed to have a clue how best to go forward.
Grant injected a lot of what we was missing, yet he was the only player on the pitch that looked any different. Ameobi for me is faultless, he tried and got stuck in – he simply didn’t have the service or support to be that powerful striker we know he can be.
The most disappointing aspect for me is the poor marking, all the goals seemed very soft.
The first I found annoying, Jodi Jones given all the time in the world to pick his shot.
The second is the most frustrating because it sealed the game at a point where there was hope of getting a draw.
How we can allow a player to turn from a front facing position, to turning his back to our defender – all at the time with no challenge being made and allowing an opposition side to score so easily is really disappointing.
We only had two players in a defensive position; we got caught cheaply on the break by being careless.
And please do comment on who it was for us who ran back to get into a defensive position, only to be caught into some sort of bubble – I think it was Rob Milsom. I don’t fault his effort to get back but the defending was dire!
As I’ve written, I’m not overly concerned and the issues are largely something Kevin Nolan can fix.
I think it’s important we stay grounded and supportive, as Chesterfield won’t be an easy team to beat, but we need to defend much better.
We need to take our time, allowing ourselves to get a proper feel for the game because hoofing the ball is extremely wasteful – as is rushing the passing.
Honestly, we gave our support yesterday and all those who attended were let down massively.
But we must be stronger in our game and try to get the points against the next two teams, I have limited interest in the League Cup – so I hope we use the game to see how we can get more pace up front (Jonathan Forte or Callum Saunders perhaps).