It’s the second in our back-to-back home games to welcome the team back to Coventry. After beating Gillingham in front of a packed audience, the challenge for this team is to prove that they can re-produce that kind of performance against Yeovil in this forthcoming fixture.
The victory over Gillingham has really changed the perception of what is happening at the club. Prior to last Friday our form was largely indifferent, having mustered just one win from our opening five league games. Now that we have taken that tally of wins to two, are now sitting in eighth position in the league and are six games unbeaten, things are now looking to be on the up for Coventry City.
Building on that momentum of the Ricoh Arena return and the Gillingham win, Steve Waggott has tied Steven Pressley and his coaching staff down to a longer-term contract. Whilst one evening does not indicate an immediate turn in our fortunes as a football club, it is very smart of Waggott to utilise this feel-good factor to ensure that key personnel leaving the club on the cheap or for free. The next task seems to be handing John Fleck a contract extension.
The team news for this week is focused on those returning. Simeon Jackson has come back from international duty with Canada but may still not be deemed fit enough for a starting berth. Danny Swanson had to sit out last Friday’s homecoming through injury but he looks like another who will bolster the bench. Shaun Miller though is still missing from the squad with a calf injury, however there are ample options in attack to cover for that loss.
The big team selection dilemma will be whether to persist with Marcus Tudgay. His performance against Gillingham was incredibly poor as he appeared to be on a completely different wave-length to the rest of the team. However he did appear to be talking to his team-mates in the early stages of the game to help them cope with the atmosphere. Perhaps though he might be better used as an experienced head to bring on to help close a game out.
Possible Line-Up: (5-3-2) Allsop; Clarke, Willis, Webster, Johnson, Haynes; O’Brien, Fleck, Thomas; Nouble, McQuoid.
Last Time We Met
Although we have only played Yeovil Town twice in our entire history, both meetings came in our post-Championship relegation season and at key times of that particular season.
Our current spell in League One began with a trip down to Somerset under the leadership of Andy Thorn and with a decent away following. Cody McDonald scored the opening goal of that contest but it was cancelled out by a goal conceded from a set-piece soon after. Both teams could argue that they might have won that game, Cody McDonald was brought down when clean through on goal but the referee decided that it was a dive. Yeovil Town probably had the best of the play thanks to Thorn’s attempting to shoehorn the team into a diamond formation.
When we met in February later that season both sides had been through massive transformations. Coventry City had sacked Andy Thorn after three league games, experienced the Richard Shaw ‘era’ and appointed Mark Robins as manager. Robins turned around a sinking ship and by December of that season had brought the best out of players like David McGoldrick, James Bailey, Franck Moussa and Carl Baker. After getting close to the play-offs by the turn of the year, our form at the Ricoh Arena was starting to let us down with many games taking the pattern of dominating chances and possession but being caught out on the counter-attack. Yeovil Town were in irresistible form heading into that fixture, inspired by the form of striker Paddy Madden, the Glovers were on a long unbeaten run and were shooting up the table.
Going into the fixture, the Sky Blues had lost 3-0 to Crewe in the JPT in front of a packed Ricoh Arena. With one great chance of getting to Wembley that season having been wasted, the game against Yeovil was seen by many as a great chance to push on into the play-off positions. However it appeared that Mark Robins was still struggling to get the best out of Leon Clarke, the team continued to pump crosses into the box despite Clarke being unable to beat either of Yeovil’s aerially dominant centre-backs. It was not entirely unexpected when Paddy Madden eventually scored the winner for Yeovil.
Immediately following that game, Mark Robins left for Huddersfield Town. On the one hand, he had stopped a lot of the rot that had set in at the club during our Championship years and may have taken us into the play-offs had he been able to keep David McGoldrick. On the other, his inability to win what were arguably the two biggest games of the season, at home, suggested that he was a man capable of nothing more than a short-term impact. His time at Huddersfield and eventual departure provide little evidence to the contrary. Yeovil Town were later to be promoted that season after beating Brentford in the play-off final at Wembley, perhaps with a better strategy in that last meeting between the two sides things could have been very different.
How Are They Doing?
It was no surprise to see Yeovil Town relegated from the Championship last season, operating at a significant lower budget-level than the rest of the division, the club’s board decided to use that season as an opportunity put the club on a more stable financial footing. However losing games on a regular basis is not a particularly good habit to have and like many other relegated teams, Yeovil initially struggled for form this season. The Glovers though have found some form recently and are unbeaten in the league since beating Walsall on August 19th, they have though won only one game this season.
Despite their time in the Championship, Yeovil remain something of an unknown quantity. Whilst Yeovil are expected now to push on and challenge for a top 6 place, their squad does not look especially talented aside from the fact that Gary Johnson is their manager.
Their attack should be made up of James Hayter and Ajay Leitch-Smith, two forwards who have excellent off-the-ball movement but are perhaps not would could be described as natural goalscorers. The pacey winger Joel Grant is returning to fitness and could find his way into the starting line-up for this fixture, Johnson might want to replicate what Gillingham tried to do with McGlashan against Haynes last Friday.
Their midfield is made up of hard grafters, the wide players Kevin Dawson and Sam Foley embody the team ethic of this side. Whilst neither Dawson nor Foley is a traditional winger, they protect their full-backs well and are capable of pushing up and pressing the opposition. The more creative players in James Berrett and Simon Gillett are both likely to miss this game so Wolves loanee Jack Price will be allowed to continue following an impressive debut against Bradford last week.
In defence they have former Sky Blue Aaron Martin who was on loan at the club briefly towards the end of the 2012/13 season where he looked a solid and composed presence. Martin is Yeovil’s top-scorer this season, with two goals, so he could threaten us at set-pieces. They also have the former Liverpool defender Jakub Sokolik who impressed during a loan spell with Southend in League Two last season and has been a fixture in their team this season.
Possible Line-Up: (4-4-2) Weale; Sokolik, Nugent, Martin, Smith; Dawson, Edwards, Price, Foley; Hayter, Leitch-Smith.
Unsurprisingly Steven Pressley is very keen to capitalise on the momentum from the win over Gillingham. Whilst elements of the performance were very promising, it could be said that we were lucky to take all three points from the game after Gillingham fashioned several great chances in the closing stages. Hopefully though the win will give the team the confidence to play on the front-foot for larger portions of the game as despite tightening up defensively, we still look far better whilst on the front-foot.
The major worry for me is the Gary Johnson factor, I wouldn’t be surprised if he has won more games at the Ricoh Arena than a few recent Coventry City managers. He is somehow able to coax victory, usually very heavy ones, from his teams no matter what the circumstances are when it come to playing Coventry City at our home. It would speak volumes of Steven Pressley’s ability to overcome the typical assumptions of what it is to be Coventry City could he lift this particular hoodoo.
I am going to stick with the positivity factor and go for a 2-0 win for the Sky Blues.