Despite the combination of Storm Emma and the Beast from the East wreaking havoc across the country, or own League Two clash with the Sky Blues is set to beat the conditions and go ahead. Both sides will desperately want to get it played, given the magnitude of what is at stake. For the winners, a leg up into the play off race. For the losers, a ten-game mountain left to climb.
One of the big stories going into the game surrounds the identity of the referee, one Mike Dean of the Premier League. Having looked back over the records, Dean tends to be given a League One game around this time every season, for what reason I don’t know. He likes a card does Mike, but he’s undoubtedly a great referee and should ensure the game stays relatively controversy free.
The clash isn’t about the referee though, certainly not when Seb Stockbridge isn’t in charge, it’s about a match up between two evenly matched sides poised delicately on the threshold of promotion. To be fair, Coventry outclassed us back in November, Duckens Nazon and Jodi Jones tore us apart time and again. We lost 2-1, but most observers felt Coventry were the best side we’d seen at the Bank. Now they host us without Nazons or Jones, the latter injured for the season, the former recalled by his parent club. Instead, they signed Jordan Maguire-Drew to cover Jones. I won’t say anymore.
Such is the reliance on striker Marc McNulty that Mark Robins is on the cusp of recalling problem striker Kyel Reid to the Coventry line up. Reid is despised amongst his own fans after stating he had a release clause following their relegation. he didn’t and was swiftly loaned out to Colchester as punishment. He did alright there, he’s got five goals and five assists to his name this season and Robins might not have a choice but to bring him in alongside McNulty. The former Sheffield United player is a real danger man, he’s grabbed 14 this season and looks a constant menace at this level.
Over the past ten games Coventry have been a little goal-shy, scoring 12, compared to our 16. They’ve been tighter at the back though, we’ve conceded 18 compared to their ten from the same period. If you took out Crawley and Crewe we’d be far higher, but on current form our defence isn’t solid at all. The truth is we’ve looked a little ragged at the back recently and just thirteen points form the last ten games points to a slump of sorts. Coventry has sixteen points from the same period, not exactly scintillating form either.
If we’re being brutally honest, tomorrow is crucial for both sides looking to turn a tough start to 2018 into a real positive. That isn’t me being negative, just being real. Defeat at Crawley could have been predicted, but the home debacle against Crewe asked a lot of question which Imps fans will hope to see answered tomorrow. Similarly, just one win in six for the Sky Blues has left them clinging to promotion by a thread. Tomorrow, one of us is going to lose ground whilst the other lights a dim flame of hope.
The prediction model (rather predictably) has the game down as most likely to be a 0-0 draw, but after last weekend I’m inclined not to be led by that at all. If anything I’d say the game is likely to feature considerably more goals, perhaps as many as four split anyway you like. Coventry have only featured in one game settled by a solitary goal in the last seven, we’ve seen in twice in the last ten (Cambridge and Cheltenham). If I were a betting man I’d be looking at 1-1 as a bare minimum I think, but as I’ve not had a win all season I’m probably not the best person to ask!
Coventry’s split of scoring and conceding is almost 50/50 both ways, so predicting how they’ll do is tough. As for us, on our travels we’re likely to score in the second half of games, having started a majority of our trips away badly. We concede three more fouls on our away matches as Coventry do at home and they average three shots more than we do in the same situation.
If we’re going to create anything I can see it coming from Harry Anderson. The winger has been in and out of the side quite a bit recently, but I can see him starting at the Ricoh. He’s got four assists in the league, the same as Rheady and one more than Neal Eardley, and that trio must all be on the pitch if we’re going to be an effective attacking force. Harry has also had 20 shots on target, second only to Matt Green. However, Matt has had 61 attempts to produce 25 on target, Harry has had 31 attempts to get his 20 on target.
If we’re to get our season going again we must look to get Harry firing. He’s our most productive player when he’s on form, along with Matt Green who works tirelessly. some of the pressure needs to be taken from Green’s shoulders, one way or another and if that comes by pushing Harry into an advanced wide position then so be it. The key to unlocking Coventry tomorrow lies with our former Posh winger and therefore, he’s also the key to our promotion challenge.
History is on our side by the way. It’s been 67 years since Coventry beat us at their place, although if we were to win tomorrow, it would be our first ever victory when travelling to play the Sky Blues. The closest we came was in 1961/62 when a Bert Linnecor brace earned us a 2-2 draw.
Thanks to Chris Wray for his interpretation of how City might have been able to train on the Sincil Bank pitch this week.