On Saturday at Swindon, Reice Charles-Cook broke Steve Ogrizovic's post-war Coventry City record for the most consecutive minutes without conceding a goal. He passed Oggy's record in the 78th minute and at that stage it looked like a good day all round for the Sky Blues as they led 2-0 and looked on course for another away victory. Then, as so often happens at the County Ground, the home side roused themselves & with five minutes to go, netted once before scoring an added-time equaliser from the penalty spot.
Reice's record of 580 minutes left him 28 minutes short of the all-time club record, set, as I wrote last week, in 1934 by Horace Pearson.
During the debate over clean sheets, several people have asked me which City goalkeeper holds the record for the most clean sheets in a season. The most by the team in a league season is 18, achieved in 1938-39 and 1958-59. In the latter season, the Division 4 promotion campaign, City used four goalkeepers and three of them, Arthur Lightening (9), Alf Wood (5) and Alf Bentley (4), shared the clean sheets. In 1938-39 Bill Morgan set the record by keeping 17 in 41 games, the other being Alf Wood in his sole game between the sticks. Bill Glazier came close to equalling Morgan's record with 15 in 1968-69 and 16 in 1970-71. Oggy's best season was 1987-88 when he kept 15 clean sheets in 40 games.
Swindon's County Ground has rarely been a happy hunting ground for the Sky Blues and although they have two FA Cup victories there (1966 & 2001), they have failed to win a league game there in nine attempts since the last in December 1960. The Robins also love playing in Coventry – they have won all three encounters at the Ricoh and City last beat them in the league in 1964. Even in Swindon's one season in the Premier League, in 1993-94, in which they won only five games all season, they managed to thump City 3-1 at home and take a point home from Highfield Road with a last minute equaliser.
In the last four seasons City have thrown away a lead at Swindon and squandered nine points in the process. Definitely one of City's hoodoo grounds.
2012-13 leading 2-0 with 13 minutes left – final score 2-2
2013-14 leading 1-0 with 14 minutes left – final score 1-2
2014-15 leading 1-0 with 18 minutes left – final score 1-1
2015-16 leading 2-0 with 5 minutes left – final score 2-2
The FA Cup draw paired City with old rivals Northampton Town for what will be the two club's first competitive meeting since the Third Round FA Cup tie in January 1990. That game resulted in an embarrassing 1-0 defeat for City who were 11th in the old First Division at the time and on the verge of a League Cup semi-final place. The Cobblers were 11th in Division Three & shocked John Sillett's team with the only goal coming from Steve Berry. The game took place on the Cobblers' old ground, the County Ground which they shared with Northamptonshire cricket team and which had only three sides.
The teams have met in the FA Cup on two other occasions, in 1930 and 1954. City triumphed at the County Ground in both games. In 1931 goals from Frank Bowden & Billy Lake gave City a 2-1 success, whilst in 1954 the game was won by a freak 80-yard shot by Roy Kirk that caught former City goalkeeper Alf Wood, off his line, and bounced into the net.
On the subject of freak goals at Northampton, regular reader Arthur Warner wrote to me this week concerning such a goal at the County Ground. Arthur wrote:
My memory took me back to when I was about 11 or 12 years of age and I witnessed a very bizarre and embarrassing own goal by Charlie Ashcroft who was in goal for City. It was in the mid fifties when my Dad took me to Northampton on the train to see the City play the Cobblers at the County ground,that they shared with the County cricket team. We were in the covered end, behind the goal, when Charlie Ashcroft took a goal kick, and Roy Kirk was standing in the centre half position with his back to the goal. Charlie's goal kick hit Roy on the back of head and went into our net for an own goal. I know that the City lost 4-0, so could you please research the details to see if I am dreaming or not.Roy Kirk
You aren't dreaming Arthur. The game in question was in August 1957 and City got a 4-0 thumping from the Cobblers. They conceded two penalties in first twenty minutes, both scored by Maurice Robinson, then late in the first half, 'keeper Ashcroft's woeful kick hit full-back Kirk and, as you thought, rebounded into the net to make it 3-0. Poor Kirk, the hero with his 80-yard goal three years earlier, was now the unluckiest man on the pitch but no blame could be put at his door.