AS Argyle bow out of the Football League Trophy, Charlie Hempstead pays tribute to the competition’s sponsors.According to the Johnstone’s Paint website: “Blues and Greens are associated with nature and harmony, and are perfect for creating a relaxing, stress-free place”. A nice quiet evening in the Football League Trophy area quarter final therefore surely beckoned as the Sky Blues lined up against the Green Army. Or maybe not.
Certainly no-one had told the respective sets of fans, who had turned out in numbers (7,121, to be precise, with 769 high in the away end) and were determined to out-sing each other from the first whistle. Perhaps it was the fact that Argyle were in their vivid yellow away kit that caused the atmosphere to be so vibrant. The sponsors’ website tells us that “yellows are the colour of sunshine; their warmth and energy brighten up your home”. Well, it wasn’t terribly warm in Coventry’s new/old home, but there was no shortage of energy on display.
Another oddity thrown up by perusing the sponsors’ array of colour options is that while some have jazzy marketing names like Symphony, Rosebud and Dark Angel, others are identified by a code only.
Thus, the official tone of Argyle’s away shirt, a colour which you or I would call canary or possibly buttercup, is in fact the rather less catchy RAL 1026 13033.
If you think that is a mouthful, just be thankful that Argyle weren’t in their home green, which has the even more unwieldy moniker of S 4030-G30Y 12007.
It must be said that of blue, there was an abundance. Every seat, every surface in the Ricoh Arena is really very blue indeed. Appropriately, given that City have recently fallen back in love with the Ricoh after a trial separation lasting over a year, sky blue in the Johnstone’s palette is called Eros. No, honestly.
Unfortunately the playing surface was rather more Conker (brown to you and me) than S 4030-G30Y 12007. In fact it looked very much as though Wasps had already taken up their tenancy, with the heavily scarred surface frequently thwarting the players’ attempts at playing progressive football.
The pitch had a lot to do with the fact that although the game moved from end to end and both sides showed plenty of appetite, players frequently lost their footing or control of the ball, with the result that goalmouth action was at a premium. In fact, a fierce drive from Reuben Reid which stretched Ryan Allsop in the home goal was the only serious attempt in the first half.
The other noteworthy moment of the first period came when Coventry’s James Maddison played the role of Diva (a Johnstone Paint colour), throwing himself to the floor in an attempt to con referee James Adcock into thinking that he had been tripped by Dominic Blizzard (not a Johnstone’s Paint colour, even though he sounds like one). Maddison received a colour card for his pains.
A coat of paint was all that stopped Coventry from taking the lead very early in the second half, when a ball fell invitingly for John Fleck to fire in a volley which smacked against Luke McCormick’s near post. The fact that Mr Adcock gave a corner – and that no-one in RAL 1026 13033 argued – suggests that Anthony O’Connor got an all-important touch on the ball.
At the other end, Lewis Alessandra displayed an artist’s touch as he created space for a dangerous cross which the home defence only just dealt with before it could reach the unmarked Reid at the far post.
Suitably inspired, the galvanised visitors started to exert more pressure, but it was the home side who broke the deadlock when Gary Madine headed home Jim O’Brien’s corner in the 62nd minute.
Never afraid to stir the can in search of the perfect mix, John Sheridan responded by introducing Marvin Morgan in place of Carl McHugh and switching to a flat back four.
With quarter of an hour remaining, it looked as though Argyle had found that elusive blend. Deane Smalley met O’Connor’s impeccable right-wing cross with a powerful header, only to be defeated by Allsop’s superb reaction save.
As Argyle strove for the goal that would take the match to penalties, a free-kick on the edge of the box was blocked and cleared to substitute Frank Nouble, who powered forward, worked space for a shot, and slammed in a goal that gave the scoreline a gloss that did not reflect what had gone before.
So the 2014-15 Johnstone’s Paint campaign ends, and attention turns to another relaxing, stress-free, Blue v Green encounter on Saturday.
Come On You S 4030-G30Y 12007’s.