As I’ve gone into the win over Shrewsbury Town in detail already, there’s no real need to dwell on that performance in this particular preview. All that I will add is that the win felt routine, pretty much everyone expected us to win and we managed to do so comfortably without playing extraordinary well. This being Coventry City, it all felt rather odd.
We kick of our Johnstone’s Paint Trophy campaign against Yeovil Town. Let’s face it, few really want to be spending a Tuesday evening in deepest, darkest Somerset, particularly when the fixture list in the league is about to get rather hectic. It would be amazing if we could book a trip to Wembley but the early few rounds of the JPT are all about coming through unscathed.
A combination of international call-ups and competition rules stating that no more than five changes can be made to the squad turns Tony Mowbray’s team selection into an interesting balancing act. Tony Mowbray has to name six of the top 11 players he have started most in all competitions this season. For what it’s worth, those players are as follows; John Fleck, Sam Ricketts, Chris Stokes, Romain Vincelot, Reda Johnson, Adam Armstrong, Lee Burge, Jim O’Brien, Ruben Lameiras, Aaron Martin and Jacob Murphy.
Of those 11, only Adam Armstrong is unavailable meaning that Tony Mowbray can still pick a near full-strength team should he be of that disposition. However, it seems like the manager wants to rest the injury-prone Reda Johnson and the one booking away from suspension John Fleck at the very least. That would take Mowbray up to three of his maximum five alterations from his 11 top starters that he can make.
Ryan Haynes has seemingly impressed the manager with his form in the under-21s and seems set for a start too, change number 4. That would leave the manager with the decision to either continue Reice Charles-Cook in goal, using up all five of his changes, or restoring Lee Burge and bringing someone else in from the under-21s, possibly Lateef Elford-Alliyu, for an opportunity to impress outfield. There may be greater lee-way though depending on whether the Football League decide that the unavailability of Armstrong doesn’t count towards Mowbray’s permitted changes.
And people say the early rounds of the JPT are dull and tedious!
Last Time We Met
Our two meetings with Yeovil Town last season summed up two very different parts of our campaign. The first time we met them was the second home game back at the Ricoh Arena, Steven Pressley’s Coventry City were high on confidence and comfortably won 2-1 thanks to goals from Reda Johnson and Simeon Jackson. We failed to win the following seven league games.
The second time we met was at during the final stages of Steven Pressley’s time at the club. Confidence was low, the team felt held together by sticky tape and chewing gum and was playing with no discernible plan or direction. In a game against a similarly low on confidence Yeovil side, chances were at a premium but Gary Madine missed a penalty in his final game for the club. Had he scored it, perhaps Pressley would still be in charge? (Probably not)
How Are They Doing?
Yeovil listlessly slid into League Two last season having been in the Championship the season prior. Gary Johnson’s reign petered out with the team having lost any semblance of an identity thanks to a constant turnover of players on short-term deals. Things got worse when the club dithered over naming a successor and allowed caretaker Terry Skiverton to completely demoralise the team, admitting in the middle of March that he couldn’t save them from relegation. It took another month until Paul Sturrock was handed the job.
Despite some impressive early results for Sturrock with wins over Swindon and Sheffield United, he came in too late to save the club from relegation to League Two. Sturrock has had to completely rebuild the squad this season and it has been that continuing lack of identity, along with a disastrous injury crisis, that has seen Yeovil struggle at the bottom of the fourth tier this season. Sturrock should provide a safe pair of hands with his experience but a triple relegation seems eminently possible.
Yeovil have been pretty poor this season and it is tough to pick danger-men. Their current top-scorer is Ryan Bird, who three years ago was helping Burnham edge Rugby Town to promotion from the Southern League Central Division (8th tier). Bird is a big striker, a decent finisher but not particularly talented aerially.
Others to watch out for are Bournemouth loanee Harry Cornick who has scored a couple of stunners from the wing already this season. In midfield, Matty Dolan and Wes Fogden are decent creative players by League Two standards but can be easily overawed under pressure. Stephen Arthurworrey in defence was impressive last season but is one of many at Yeovil struggling with confidence.
Even though this is the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and many wouldn’t consider an exit from the competition to be overly bothersome, there is a game to be played and we might as well try to win it. Forgetting the possibility of Wembley for a second, it would be wasteful not to see this as a chance to build a little bit of consistency and momentum heading into a packed fixture list this month. If we could build a head of steam over the next few league games, we could really put ourselves in with a chance of promotion, let alone maintain play-off form.
Winning this game would end the recent win-loss-win-loss-win streak and give the team the confidence that they can develop the consistency to go along with the positive past two home wins. Yeovil could be more awkward opponents that we’re accounting for, particularly given that we’re playing them away on a Tuesday night. I’m still confident that we can win this fairly comfortably, we are over 40 places higher them in the league structure. I’m predicting a 2-0 scoreline.