Coventry United vs Tipton Town FC
Fa Vase Qualifying Round 1
Another good attendance of 282 saw a keenly fought FA Vase tie at Butts Park Arena. After a first half in which Tipton just about held the upper hand Coventry came out much more determined in the second half and were deserved winners in the end. No doubt the initial struggle to get on top of opponents sitting 2 divisions below will give manager Terry Anderson and the rest of the coaching staff something further to work upon.
There wasn’t too much to get excited about in the first half, in fact had it not been for a complete howler by debut home goalkeeper James Behan the teams would have gone in level at half time. The score line and football would have reflected the changing mood in the weather, blustery and gloomy.
United striker Aaron Opoku looked lively all match and with 14 minutes gone he crafted himself some space just outside the penalty area before unleashing a shot that, although easily dealt with by the Tipton keeper, no doubt stung his hands in the process. After 27 minutes Tipton themselves had what would be there best created chance of the game when Coventry failed to clear their lines and a clever back heal put the visitors through to the byline. A slide rule pass across the 6 yard box only missing a toe on the end of it.
United were struggling to get going and with the Tipton game plan seemingly on track they were gifted what will likely be the easiest goal they will score all season. An innocuous back pass with no danger whatsoever, saw home keeper Behan completely mis-control the ball, which fell straight into the path of the grateful and on this display fairly useful Tipton striker No.9 who seemed to wonder himself what had just happened before regaining composure to pass the ball into the empty net. Behan could only look on distraught.
Just before the break Craig Read was hauled down on the edge of the box when looking to manoeuvre into shooting space, but his placed shot from the resulting free kick only needed a routine save from the Tipton keeper.
Take nothing away from the team from the Black Country, they worked tirelessly during the first period to nullify United and it wasn’t until a change in personnel was made at half time that the red and greens began play neat, decisive football. Ryan Quinn came on for Tommy Maguire, and with it brought a willing energy that had so far been lacking.
After 55 minutes, with pressure building on the visitors, Chris Cox sent a high looping cross deep into enemy lines. It seemed to go over everyone’s heads and bounce into the far corner of the net, but Opoku may have got the slightest of touches on it to claim the goal.
Much to the relief of the majority of the crowd, which was mainly home fans with a healthy addition of a number of ground-hoppers, it was all United now and just 8 minutes later some good build up play saw a pass pulled back across the area to the on rushing Josh O’Grady who took nothing for granted as he smashed the ball into the net from inside the 18-yard box.
With 70 gone, Rankin came on for Reid, and with the away side tiring the red and greens continued to dominate. It wasn’t until 86 minutes that the result was confirmed, Jeff Woodward released O’Grady for a counter attack as the visitors tried in vain to create something themselves. O’Grady turned and drove into the Tipton half, only pausing to weave between 2 retreating Tipton defenders before flicking a cute finish home to seal the victory.
A win in the Vase and progression was what mattered most for the team. The growing red and green army, hungry for a good cup run, perhaps left underwhelmed but satisfied especially with a winnable home draw against Stone Old Alleynians to come.
Players to mention from the match were Ben Vallance who had a solid game coming back in at left back, Aaron Opoku who continued his goalscoring run, Chris Cox for his normal energetic performance and Jeff Woodward for another marauding display from right full back. Man of the match for me was between Josh O’Grady and Rob Prinzel. O’Grady had a fine second half scoring 2 goals and linking up well with play as United put a stamp on proceedings. Prinzel had a fine 90 minutes overall and for that he gets my vote for Man of the Match, seizing his chance of a return to the line-up with consecutive solid no-nonsense performances at the back.