One of those games at Sixfields, yet again. Coventry sailed into a seemingly comfortable 3 goal lead thanks to wonderful finishes from Callum Wilson and two from Leon Clarke. A loss of concentration in defence, particularly from a defensive wall, made the game into another hearts-in-mouths fest in Northampton.
A lightning start was rewarded by a lovely finish from an unmarked Leon Clarke in the Sheffield United box started by a wonderful pass out wide by John Fleck. Sheffield United tried to get back into the game but struggled to create sustained pressure. Harry Maguire in the Sheffield United defence started a sequence of professional fouls between he and Andy Webster in the Coventry back 4 who seemed to be competing to be sent off.
More importantly though excellent work by Carl Baker on the right-hand side of the pitch was rewarded by a glorious finish by Callum Wilson into the top right corner of the Sheffield United goal. The Blades hadn’t particularly been poor but were undone by two great moves by Coventry as the two sides were otherwise largely even in the opening 45 minutes.
The second half began with a Leon Clarke goal which again was wonderfully taken, involving a move between Moussa and Wilson as Leon capitalised on gaping hole in the Sheffield United defence to put the Blades 3 down. From then on it seemed that there would be only one winner in this contest. Coventry were comfortable on the ball and seemed much more likely to score the game’s next goal.
A surprise sub by Chris Morgan saw Sheffield United replace Marlon King with the midfielder Stephen McGinn, and that seemed to change the dynamic of the game. The already thrown-on Lyle Taylor scored a free-kick largely down to a terrible defensive wall from Coventry but it was near the start of a period where Sheffield United began to assert themselves into the game. McGinn’s difference was that his set-piece delivery suddenly gave the Blades another dimension in attack.
In the final 10 minutes of the game Lyle Taylor scored his second of the game from a glancing far-post header, it had been coming after Coventry’s defending became more last-ditch with Webster making two key headers from McGinn’s corners, Aaron Phillips made two wonderful tackles in about a minute after coming on and Murphy making several brilliant saves after Sheffield United got their first. The main moment of panic though was when Joe Murphy went down with a bad-looking injury just after Barton came on as the final substitute of the game.
After the break in play both sides had opportunities to grab the game’s decisive goal, Conor Coady should maybe have scored one of two headers in the Coventry box and John Fleck had a golden opportunity in stoppage time to seal the three points. In the end though it wasn’t necessary for the Sky Blues as the just about held out and grab an important three points to keep ourselves out of the bottom three.
Joe Murphy 7 – Hardly at fault for any of the two Sheffield United goals and made a number of key saves to keep us in the game.
Jordan Willis 5 – Okay both defensively and in attack but was caught out a couple of times defensively and arguably could have been sent off for two bad tackles.
Andy Webster 5 – Definitely should have been sent off and probably twice. Not the best with the direction of his defensive headers and was arguably the weak link in defence.
Jordan Clarke 7 – Very composed, great positioning and held his own against the physical Marlon King in attack. Once again another classy performace by JC.
Blair Adams 8 – Great assist, supported the attack very well and offered the kind of wide outlet that Cyrus Christie usually offers from full-back.
Carl Baker 7 – Grabbed himself a fantastic assist, one of his more consistent performances for the club as his passing held itself together, perhaps a better player this season for retaining a strong level throughout 90 minutes.
Conor Thomas 6 – Quiet but provided shape and energy to the side with his performance today. Compliment to say that it wasn’t obvious that Sheffield United were playing with an extra man in midfield.
John Fleck 8 – Dominated the midfield, great passing today, his wonderful pass out to Adams led to the first and he should have had 3 or 4 assists had strikers taken their opportunities better, also should have finished the game off in the final minutes.
Franck Moussa 6 – Below his best but got an assist to the third by showing some great movement and presence of mind, could have done a lot more though.
Leon Clarke 9 – Scored two, showed some great movement and could have had a couple. Also important in the way he brings others into play and how he held the ball up in the final minutes.
Callum Wilson 8 – Should have scored more than one, his pace caused Sheffield United problems, and could have caused Harry Maguire to be sent off at some point. His movement though was his standout attribute, particularly for his goal where he pulled into space for Baker’s cross.
Billy Daniels 4 – Didn’t have the opportunity to show his best today, looked slightly off the pace.
Aaron Phillips 6 – Didn’t play for long but made some outstanding tackles soon after coming on. Supported the attack okay and looks like he could one day be a replacement for Cyrus.
Adam Barton 5 – Did better than his last 2 league games, his passing was crisp in a key phase of the game but could have either scored or assisted a goal on a breakaway in the closing stages.