COVENTRY CITY 3 (McSheffery 9, Baker 86, Clarke 89)
Saturday October 23, 2010, KO 3.00pm
A SPARKLING performance by Jacob Butterfield was not enough as the Reds slipped to a three goal defeat at Coventry City.
After another away day disappointment at Burnley in midweek, Reds boss Mark Robins rang the changes. Two were enforced with new boy Matt Hill and Butterfield replacing the injured Jay McEveley and Bobby Hassell. Chris Wood and Diego Arismendi also returned with Andy Gray and Hugo Colace making way.
A horrendous accident on the M1 meant the Reds kicked off on front of a handful of Barnsley supporters at the Ricoh Arena. Barnsley's record away in Coventry City did not make good reading ahead of the game with their last win coming way back in 1923. After a nightmare trip to the Ricoh Arena, the Reds were met by torrential rain as they looked to dampen City's charge up the Championship table and kick off their own rise up the league.
Coventry's direct approach almost paid dividends on seven minutes as Aron Gunnarsson knocked Kieren Westwood's long free kick into the path of Lukas Jutiewicz but the striker blazed high over from the edge of the box.
The Sky Blues were in front on nine minutes and it was all about route one football as Clive Platt rose highest to meet another long ball forward and his header sent Gary McSheffery away. The frontman did not need a second invitation to lash a low drive into the bottom corner.
Barnsley needed something. They needed to show their mental strength and desire to drag themselves into the game. It almost came from the boot of Nathan Doyle on 17 minutes as the midfielder let fly from distance under pressure from Lee Carsley but his effort flew just over the bar.
Butterfield almost lifted the Reds on 18 minutes as he raced into the area and showed great feet before bringing a fantastic save from Westwood with a left-footer that was arrowing towards the bottom corner.
At the other end Gunnarsson almost made the Reds pay for some sloppy defending on 20 minutes as he fired just over the top.
It was eerily quiet in the Ricoh Arena but the atmosphere almost warmed up on 25 minutes as McSheffery's cross caught out Hill for Gunnarsson the fire back into the danger area but Stephen Foster was on hand to make an outstanding block on Platt inside the six yard box.
Barnsley were struggling to deal with the danger whenever Coventry went route one. They were caught out again on 26 minutes as Westwood's punt was flicked on by Platt and fired goalward but Steele was in fantastic form to deny Gunnarsson.
Ben Turner picked up a yellow card a minute later after cynically halting Adam Hammill's run. Barnsley were in behind Coventry on the half hour as great play by Butterfield and Arismendi sent Goran Lovre away but the midfielder was denied by Westwood.
It should have been two on 35 minutes when Carsley split the Reds defence wide open and put McSheffrey through on Steele but this time the ball ended up on the roof of the net.
Butterfield was the only player on the park looking to take a stale game by the scruff of the neck. The youngster tried to beat Westwood from distance on 41 minutes but his ambitious effort was easy to hold. Jutkiewicz fired wide a minute later as City looked for a killer second goal in the closing stages of the half.
The Reds made change at the start of the second half with Jim O'Brien replacing Arismendi in midfield. Barnsley started quickly with Butterfield lashing a shot just wide on 47 minutes while a scramble at the other end ended with Richard Keogh seeing his effort deflected over the top.
The one plus point for Barnsley was the performance of Butterfield in midfield. Up against players of the calibre of Carsley and Sammy Clingan the youngster simply stood out head and shoulders above everybody on the pitch at times.
Coventry went inches away from a second goal on 54 minutes when Richard Wood glanced a header just wide from Clingan's free kick. At the other end Hammill brought another fine save from Westwood with a rasping drive.
The Reds were better but City were always a threat going forward. Jutkiewicz lashed one wide on 58 minutes.
Substitute Liam Dickinson was inches away from an equaliser on the hour mark as he stretched to meet Hammill's cross but the striker just could not get a killer touch on the ball to divert it into the net.
The Reds huffed and puffed without really getting anywhere as Coventry went through the motions. Clingan hammered one wide of the mark on 70 minutes before the Reds made a final change seconds later when Jeronimo Neumann replaced Lovre.
The Reds almost found something on 75 minutes as Hammill burst to the byline to cross but the Coventry City defence were able to scramble it clear as Dickinson looked to pounce.
Foster then went close five minutes later as he rose to meet O'Brien's cross but could not put his header on target under pressure at the back post.
Coventry wrapped things up on 86 minutes when substitute Carl Baker was allowed to run, run and run across the Reds' area and his low shot beat Steele's dive and ended up in the bottom corner.
Things went from bad to worse for the Reds on 88 minutes as Kieran Trippier's cross fizzed across goal but Dickinson swung and missed it six yards out. It fell to Doyle on the edge of the box but his effort was scuffed well, well wide.
Seconds later the ball was in the back of the Barnsley net. It had ended up there after the Reds had again failed to close the ball down on the edge of the box and Jordan Clarke lashed it past Steele.
COVENTRY CITY: Westwood, Keogh, Clingan, Carsley, Jutkiewicz (O'Donovan 89), Cranie, Gunnarsson (Baker 75), McSheffrey (Clarke 83), Turner, Platt, Wood.
Subs: Ireland, McPake, Doyle, Cameron.
BARNSLEY: Steele, Trippier, Foster, Shackell, Hill, Hammill, Doyle, Arismendi (O'Brien 45), Butterfield, Lovre (Neumann 71), Wood (Dickinson 57).
Subs: Preece, Colace, Potter, Gray.
Tony Bates (Staffordshire)
Marvyn Amplett (Worcestershire) and Steve Bratt (West Midlands)
Sasa Ihringova (Shropshire)
Attendance - 14,573
Away Attendance - 721
Match Report by Rob Knowles - live from the Ricoh Arena.
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