Being in France last weekend meant that my experience of our win over Chesterfield was merely a check of the phone around 6 o’clock in the evening, the least stressful experience I’ve had of a Coventry City match in a long time.
As doubtful I had been about our chances and our recent performances prior to last Saturday, it didn’t feel suprising at all that we went out and got a result to settle the jitters. Being able to bounce back immediately from poor results and disappointing performances tends to be the hallmark of a winning team. The way we apparently set about beating Chesterfield bears testimony to the work Tony Mowbray is doing to change the attitude around the club.
I was especially glad that it was Adam Armstrong who got the winning goal on Saturday. Although he’d scored five goals in his six games for us beforehand, he had been on a bit of a drought and had been looking generally rather isolated in the past few games. That his goal came in a performance where he’d seen much more of the ball than he had been in past weeks, is a real positive sign that the win against Chesterfield was worth more to us than the three points that we won.
The back-line of Sam Ricketts and Chris Stokes at full-back with the Rugby World Cup-inspired centre-back pairing of Martin and Johnson appears to be developing a reliable understanding. With much of the rest of the team made up of young and inexperienced players, if this back four can continue to hold strong, we’ll know that the worst damage an off-day can have is likely to be a goal-less draw or a moment of individual brilliance can win us the game.
From what I have gathered about last Saturday’s attacking performance, that front four of Jacob Murphy, Ryan Kent, Jim O’Brien and Adam Armstrong looked very dangerous, albeit being let down by some suspect decision-making in the first-half in particular. Having struggled over the past few games to discover the right combination in attack, I would imagine that Tony Mowbray is unlikely to change things up despite the more physical opposition that Bury will provide.
Last Time We Met
The two times we played Bury in our first season back in the third-tier in 2012/13 saw us in different stages of our League One street awareness. The first meeting saw Andy Thorn’s Coventry City absolutely batter Bury in the first half at the Ricoh Arena and race into a deserved 2-0 lead. The second-half performance cost Thorn his job as Bury punished the Sky Blues who displayed a paucity of ambition to add to their lead with the game ending 2-2.
The following meeting saw a Coventry City side, recently having seen Mark Robins depart the club, set up under caretaker boss Lee Carsley to catch Bury on the counter-attack. Then Sky Blues striker Leon Clarke gave the away team an early lead before Carl Baker punished Bury for missing several decent opportunities with a late goal to seal three points which nearly threatened to put us in the hunt for the play-offs that season.
How Are They Doing?
After going on to be relegated in 2012/13 and nearly fall out of existence all together, Bury have regrouped after a takeover by businessman Stewart Day in 2013 whose ambitious funding of the club saw them climb out of League Two on the final day of last season. Manager David Flitcroft has overseen the transformation and spending at Bury who are currently sixth in the division and have won their past four games.
If we thought Scunthorpe with their ex-Coventry City manager and two Coventry born and raised players had motivation to beat us, Bury have seemingly gone to even further lengths to ensure they’re fired up for this specific game. In particular they have Chris Hussey, a target of the ‘boo boys’ in his final months at the Ricoh Arena’, who is now a key attacking outlet from left-back for Bury. There’s also Nathan Cameron, their captain, who has been instrumental at the back for Bury over the past two seasons where he has displayed the qualities that made him look such a promising, dominant central defender in his early appearances for us.
Likely to make his first appearance against us since leaving in acrimonious circumstances just over 18 months ago is Leon Clarke. The striker struggled after getting his dream move back to Wolves, surprisingly so based on his form whilst with us. Back in League One though after making the summer move to Bury, Clarke leads the Shakers’ scoring charts and I would imagine would be a safe bet for anytime goalscorer for this game, if you are of that persuasion.
Bury also boast Reece Brown (playing in midfield), Peter Clarke and Danny Pugh who are likely to be less concerned about getting one over their former employers, although it’s not all about Bury’s ex-City contingent. Tom Soares in midfield is a physical but mobile box-to-box midfielder who is often used on the right wing. Danny Mayor, an out and out winger, was last year’s League Two player of the season and is a key creative presence. There is also Tom Pope to think about who furthers Bury’s physical threat in attack.
Whilst the recent Scunthorpe United game showed that there is definitely something in the curse of the ex-player, the difference between Bury and Scunthorpe is that Bury are in much better form than Scunthorpe and thus pose the additional danger of confidence. They are a pretty physical side and one that boasts a number of experienced players who will be able to impose themselves on our young, small technical players if we aren’t near our very best in this game. Having won just once at home this season too, they’ll be keen to stamp their authority on this game.
Having been somewhat pessimistic last week after a poor performance, it would feel incredibly reactionary of me to suggest that we’ll be able to replicate the dominance we showed against Chesterfield given that we are away from home and I didn’t actually see the nature of the performance myself. I personally feel like this is a game that we’ll look back on at the end of the season as an incredibly tough test. I actually think we’ll lose this game 2-0.