Ricoh Arena
 
Coventry City v Shrewsbury Town
League One
  Tuesday January 1st 2013, 3pm
By Rus Teece

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground:

Like many fans, I really enjoy going to matches over the Christmas/New Year period, it gets you out of the house and away from all that food! There were also a number of other reasons for looking forward to this trip; it was a new ground for me as it was Town's ever first visit to the Ricoh. It was one of our shortest away trips of the season and the team had managed to turn the corner after a very iffy spell. The only negative was that Coventry were in superb form so I travelled more in hope than expectation.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

The Ricoh must be one of the easiest grounds to get to by road. I drove and it is dual carriageway/motorway pretty much all the way. As it was a public holiday even traffic on the M6 was moving at a good pace which meant the journey took just under an hour to complete. We managed to find free parking in an industrial estate off the A444 on the left just before the stadium. I'm not sure whether parking is allowed on a normal Saturday matchday, but as there was a mixture of home and away fans parking there  we decided it would be OK. I'm happy to report that no parking tickets were issued.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

This turned out to be Coventry's largest home attendance of the season so far, including over 1,400  Town fans, but I never witnessed any problems as fans mingled outside before and after the game. We headed straight for the turnstiles where we found the stewards and staff to be friendly and helpful. Once inside it appeared as though Coventry hadn't realised that little old Shrewsbury might bring more than a couple of hundred fans as the queue for the only food outlet was huge and the food in short supply, I heard the too few and harassed staff behind the counter telling people that the pies and burgers would be ready by half-time, not what they wanted to hear.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

From the outside the ground looks a large and impressive structure, a lot different to many of the grounds we have visited this season. For me this makes the occasion more memorable, you get the feeling that you are visiting a "Big Club" and you have to remind yourself that it is a league fixture.

This feeling continues once you are inside, the number of steps you have to scale gives some clue to the size of the stand. Some people refer to the ground as a "soulless bowl" but I thought it was a superb arena. I like the completely enclosed design as it helps to keep any noise in and a lot of the cold wind out. The main stand is different to the other three sides and this helps to break up the lines.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

The game felt like payback for all the matches this season where we have conceded late goals to drop vital points, it had happened far too many times. We certainly rode our luck at times and while we forged a number of very decent chances there is no denying that Coventry had more of the game and the better goalscoring opportunities, only Gary McSheffrey will know how he missed a golden opportunity presented on a plate by a poor back-pass. Marvellous Marvin Morgan gratefully accepted his best chance of the match to send us all into delirium. What followed was some decent defending and superb goalkeeping and we managed to hold out for our first away win of the season.

Despite there being over 15,000 inside the ground the atmosphere generated by the home support was non-existent. I don't know how much we could be heard by the home fans but  it is safe to say that the Town fans were the only ones making any noise - especially after the 62nd minute goal.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

The only drawback of the free parking was the fact that our location meant we had to drive towards the ground and negotiate the traffic-light controlled roundabout before swinging back towards the M6. This took a lot longer than expected but once we were headed north things went very smoothly.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Best away day of the season so far - quality ground offering an excellent view of the action, large turnout of Town fans, good opposition in excellent form vanquished for our first away win of the season, free parking and I didn't have to pay to get in. What is there not to like?

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