25th Sep, 2017

Ponticelli and McNulty on target as Sky Blues lose to 'Championship' opposition Valenciennes

FOOTBALL: TEENAGE striker Jordan Ponticelli and new signing Marc McNulty were on the scoresheet for the Sky Blues on Tuesday night as Mark Robins’ side suffered their first pre-season defeat in Spain.

The Sky Blues faced ‘Championship’ French side Valenciennes as part of the club’s pre-season Spanish tour, and their game against the French outfit came just four days after Mark Robins’ men edged out Sutton United in a 1-0 win on Saturday afternoon.

Wembley goalkeeping hero Lee Burge started in goal while recent recruit Jack Grimmer was handed a start alongside Rod McDonald.

Youngster Darragh Leahy joined Jordan Willis while Ben Stevenson, skipper Doyle, Jodi Jones, and Vincenti completed the midfield.

McNulty and Stuart Beavon featured up front.

City made a disastrious start when Valenciennes scored their first – and only – goal in the fourth minute.

Cherif Quenum found space inside the right channel before firing a ball across the six-yard box for Steve Ambri to tap in.

Responding to the early goal, the Sky Blues looked to retain possession – though it was Valenciennes that threatened once more.

A lovely interchange saw Gween Foulon in behind the City defence, but the offside flag was raised.

City began to grow into the game and were soon given the opportunity to level.

A good passage of play led to Stuart Beavon being taken down inside the penalty area, with Marc McNulty converting from twelve yards to restore parity before half time.

Michael Doyle was the only man to remain on the pitch after half-time as Robins explored his options.

The addition of Jordan Ponticelli almost paid dividends immediately when he took one touch before wrong footing the keeper – his effort was denied by the post though.

City continued to come forward as a trialist went close when angling a volleyed effort towards the top corner that fell just wide.

The Sky Blues soon got the goal their play had warranted, and it was youngster Jordan Ponticelli with his first for the senior side.

A corner fell his way at the back post, before he emphatically fired the ball into the roof of the net.

Despite the superiority in the second half, the Sky Blues were pegged back.

A ball played along the six-yard box was turned in by City defender Dominic Hyam.

Valenciennes completed the turnaround with ten minutes to go as Loic Nestor scored the winning goal, finding the top corner with a curling effort from 25-yards.

A pleased Mark Robins said each member of the squad is showing they’re hungry to push each other.

He added: “We had a brilliant day in terms of preparation, we’ve come up against a Championship side in France and you can’t replicate that.

“They had some real quality and we aren’t going to come up against that often, but it was a good exercise to try and keep the ball and get into our shape.

“To come out with two goals and almost dominate the second half after they kept the ball very well in the first was pleasing.

“Jordan Ponticelli came on for second half and ran his socks off, it was a very good performance capped off with a great finish that at the time put us ahead.”

He added: “Like i’ve said, in this heat and the way the lads have worked all week has been really encouraging and each member of the squad is showing they’re hungry to push each other.”

Coventry City XI First Half: Burge (GK), Grimmer, Willis, McDonald, Leahy, Stevenson, Doyle (C), Jones, McNulty, Vincenti, Beavon.

Coventry City XI Second Half: O’Brien (GK), Dev. Kelly-Evans, Hyam, Leahy, Camwell, Doyle (Kelly 70′), Shipley, Trialist, Finn, Biamou, Ponticelli.

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