Where We Are
Following two narrow back-to-back defeats against Milton Keynes and Peterborough United, Coventry City are still just short of the required points total to ensure safety. A recent piece in the Coventry Telegraph suggests that the club’s current points tally may already be enough to shade survival but there’s no better feeling than knowing that your team’s league status doesn’t depend on the fortunes of other teams. As such Coventry should look upon Good Friday’s meeting with Swindon Town as a chance to secure those vital points ahead of our final two games against Wolves and Sheffield United.
Furthermore Coventry City fans only have to stretch their minds back to a recent Easter period where the club’s season swung on a sixpence. Back in 2012 Andy Thorn’s Coventry City has just secured their first away win of the season and faced a Peterborough side with nothing to play for ahead of an Easter Monday 6-pointer with relegation rivals Bristol City. After edging in front against Peterborough at the Ricoh, the team sat back and were then pegged back to drop a vital two points against Posh as Bristol City were handed victory at Nottingham Forest thanks to an out-of-character Lee Camp blunder. However the Sky Blues were still above the Robins as they travelled to Ashton Gate just two days later. Jon Stead’s opening goal for Coventry was eventually pegged back by a late Bristol City comeback to lose the game 3-1. Following that brutal two fixture surrender the team were unable to raise their game for the rest of the season and whimpered into the third tier.
Whilst the situation the team finds itself in is less dire than it was two years ago, it would be complacent to assume that safety has already been ensured. Steven Pressley should be targeting a minimum of 3 points from this Easter period and preferably to remain unbeaten over the next 4 days. To not do so would be unthinkable with many teams below us experiencing an upturn in form. If we were to lose the next two then we could hang just a point or two above the bottom 4 with two tough games still to play.
Dominating Pressley’s thinking must be the decision of whether to play for the point against an in-form Swindon Town team or to gamble and go toe-to-toe with our opponents. The return of Danny Seaborne gives Pressley the option to set up in the back 5 which won us 7 points against Stevenage, Crewe and Bradford. Whilst playing defensively is certainly not a risk-free strategy against brighter attacking opponents, it may be our best chance of not losing out on more cheap points.
Last Time We Met
Talking of losing out on cheap points, our last game against Swindon Town saw Coventry produce one of their best performances of the season and get absolutely nothing out of the match. After taking the lead through Leon Clarke, the Sky Blues were denied by two goals in 9 minutes from Iraqi international Yasser Kasim and former Coventry academy player Miles Storey. Since being relegated from the Championship, Coventry City have failed to beat our Wiltshire opponents now on all 3 occasions having taken the lead in every single game.
How Are They Doing
After a solid season under former Peterborough and Kettering manager Mark Cooper, the Robins are probably rueing that they have left their current run of form too late to challenge that final play-off spot. Tomorrow’s game will represent for them the final opportunity to seriously make Peterborough sweat in 6th position however 7 points may be too much for them to make up at this stage of the season. That’s not to say that this season has been a waste, with Swindon playing a neat, passing style of football and building a team of promising youngsters after the instability of the Paolo di Canio era.
The star turn for Swindon this campaign has been Tottenham loanee Alex Pritchard. Continuing the Peterborough connection at the club, Pritchard arrived at the County Ground following a non-descript spell at the London Road club last season. A player who is almost certain to be playing in the Championship next season, Pritchard has had a breakthrough campaign. He has caught the eye with a number of free-kicks that have put him in joint third in the club’s goal-scoring charts.
Swindon’s main game-plan is simple but has been effective, to build their attacks around a lone, tall front-man. When he’s been available former Newcastle man Nile Ranger has been the man to fulfil this role, with the controversial striker top of the club’s scoring charts. Dany N’Guessan also had a decent go at playing as an attacking foil in the first-half of the season but has seen his form fade in recent weeks. Another key attacking player for Swindon could be Michael Smith, a player I identified as a potential Leon Clarke replacement in January, the former Charlton man has settled into life in Wiltshire with 6 goals in 16 appearances.
Elsewhere two ball-playing midfielders will play a key role for Mark Cooper’s side in the shape of Massimo Luongo and Yasser Kasim. Both are former Spurs academy players but whilst Kasim has taken the hard road of playing a season or two in non-league, Luongo was signed directly from the North London side. Additionally both have earned international recognition with their form this season with Luongo being called up by World Cup bound Australia and Kasim turning out for the Iraqi national team.
Finally a player who has remained from the tempestuous but successful di Canio era is Wes Foderingham. The former Fulham man has been revelation since signing for the club back in 2011 and has caught the eye of many Championship sides for a number of seasons with his former in goal. However Foderingham has recently been out of the side with Tyrell Belford, brother of former Coventry keeper Cameron, making his first steps in professional football.
As you can tell from the above section, Swindon are an incredibly talented side and are maybe a blue-print for what Pressley could be looking to achieve over the coming transfer window. Before we can consider the summer though we simply must find at least one win out of these final 4 fixtures. With Swindon playing desperately to take advantage of any slip-up from Peterborough this may be a difficult time to face Mark Cooper’s team. However despite losing our last two games, there have been signs that the team can still trouble the division’s top sides.
A tough one to call due to my desperation to see Coventry win a game to make those final two games more relaxing, however I am going to be optimistic this time and go for a 1-0 Sky Blues win.