Sunday, 25 October 2015

Jim's column 24.10.2015

What a week for Coventry City's goalkeeper Reice Charles-Cook who wrote himself into the record books on Saturday against Blackpool with his third clean sheet in a row. He becomes the first City keeper not to concede a goal in his first three league games for the club. When you consider the great custodians the club has had over the years, from Jerry Best in the 1920s, through Bill Morgan in the 1930s, Alf Wood in the 1940s, Reg Matthews in the 1950s, Bill Glazier in the 1960s and of course Oggy, for what seems like forever, none of them matched Reice's record. Then, at Rochdale on Tuesday evening, he proceeded to do it again in a 0-0 draw. If you include the clean sheet at Yeovil in the JPT game then Charles has played five and a half games (or 495 minutes) since he conceded a goal to Donal McDermott on his debut at Rochdale in the League Cup.

On three occasions since the war City have achieved five consecutive clean sheets. In October 2001 Roland Nilsson's team won four and drew one without conceding, in early 1992 Steve Ogrizovic was between the posts as City's defence was not breached in five games and in October 1982 Les Sealey achieved the feat. In 2001 two 'keepers shared the honours with Magnus Hedman playing in the first two games and Andy Goram in the latter three. In total the team went 491 minutes without conceding.

In 1992, under the managership of Don Howe, the run included four 0-0 draws and a solitary 1-0 win. After Manchester City's David White netted the only goal of a defeat at Maine Road on 18 January, the Sky Blues won 1-0 at Crystal Palace (David Smith scoring), then drew four goalless games in a row – Liverpool (h), Southampton (a), Manchester United (h) and Norwich (h). On 7 March City travelled to Hillsborough and there were only seven minutes remaining on the clock when Viv Anderson scored to equalise Kevin Gallacher's earlier goal. That added up to 572 minutes without a goal past Oggy. So another clean sheet at Swindon would take Reice past Oggy's post-war record. (Stop press: Reice went 85 minutes without conceding at Swindon, setting a new post-war record of  580 minutes without a goal going past him)

Oggy's effort just pipped Sealey's record of 558 minutes in 1982 with five clean sheets: Notts County (h) 1-0, Watford (a) 0-0, Fulham (League Cup) (h) 0-0, Norwich (h) 2-0 and Aston Villa (h) 0-0. The Fulham game went to extra-time and the run came to an end somewhat abruptly with a home defeat to lowly Second Division Burmley in the League Cup.

For the club record you have to go back to 1934 when the club kept six clean sheets in a row, straddling two seasons. Harry Storer was the manager at the time and the goalkeeper was Horace Pearson. After a 3-1 defeat at champions-elect Norwich had ended their promotion hopes, Storer was determined to finish as runners up to the Canaries (only one team promoted in those days). A week later City ripped Bristol City apart, with a club record 9-0 victory and Clarrie Bourton netted four goals. A week later the season ended with a 0-0 draw at Clapton Orient. The 1934-35 season started with four consecutive clean sheets: Northampton (h) 2-0, Clapton (a) 1-0, Bournemouth (a) 2-0 and Clapton (h) 4-0, before on September 8th at Highfield Road, Pearson was beaten by Watford's Jimmy Poxon in the 43rd minute in a 1-1 draw. In total Pearson went 608 minutes without conceding.
                                               Horace Pearson in 1934

So the leader board looks like this:

608 minutes Horace Pearson
572 Steve Ogrizovic
558 Les Sealey
495 Reice Charles-Cook
491 Magnus Hedman/Andy Goram

Finally, before I leave the subject of clean sheets, Richard Home asked what is the club record for clean sheets in a season. The record was set in 1958-59, the Fourth Division promotion season under Billy Frith. The team kept 18 clean sheets out of 46 league games, 15 of them at home. This season Mowbray's team have kept seven out of 13 games, an average which, if were to be continued, would break the record.

The Rochdale result was City's best outcome at Spotland in eight visits stretching back to 1921. Previously they had lost six and although they drew there in the League Cup earlier this season, they lost the tie on penalties. So maybe that is progress!

It was a very disappointing crowd at Rochdale of 2,495 - the lowest to watch a City away league game since 2002 and the third lowest in the post-war era. If you take the City following out the home crowd was less than 2,000.

Since the war there have been five crowds under 3,000:
2,077 v Wimbledon 2002-03
2,275 v Southport 1958-59
2,495 v Rochdale 2015-16
2,607 v Halifax 1961-62
2,866 v Scunthorpe 2014-15

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