A home win to give hope that there might be a way forward next season without necessarily the radical squad turnover that had seem inevitable for the past few months. Racing two goals ahead early on, the first of which was almost an entire fluke, helped but in terms of chances created, we deserved to win an otherwise fairly tight contest.
These past few home wins have come as a result of Tony Mowbray experimenting with his selection and tactics, something which was absent during our dismal run in the second half of the season. The freedom of knowing there’s pretty much nothing to play for has helped but hopefully Tony Mowbray can take this tactical flexibility into next season which should make us harder to play against.
As for the one remaining game of this season, we face an Oldham side who, just like ourselves, have nothing to play for. The difference between defeat and victory here would only be to secure our highest finish in a division since 1989 and our highest points tally since three points for a win was introduced in 1981. That being said, it counts for very little when we can’t achieve anything tangible with it but it’s nice to see a Coventry City side that hasn’t completely packed it in for the final weeks of the season.
It doesn’t make a great deal of difference what kind of team plays in this game. Whether Tony Mowbray goes full strength or only plays those who’ll be around next season, you’d imagine that performances in this game aren’t going to affect who he’s going to keep or let go over the summer. It would be nice for the likes of Jodi Jones or George Thomas to get themselves on the scoresheet to give themselves something to build upon for next season, but it’s really all about what they do next season now.
Last Time We Met
The build-up for the otherwise humdrum game against Oldham back in December was replaced by the emotional outpouring at the news of club icon Jimmy Hill’s death. Unfortunately it wasn’t the best performance from the Sky Blues who laboured into a 1-0 lead just after half-time via Aaron Martin’s header, an early injury to Ben Turner unsettling a makeshift backline. Oldham equalised with the final kick of the game after Reice Charles-Cook flapped tamely at Danny Philliskirk’s near-post header.
How Are They Doing?
Oldham looked dead and buried for much of the first half of the season after two disastrous managerial appointments. The rookie Darren Kelly was brought in at the start of the season and projected no confidence at all from the dug-out, quickly losing the confidence of both fans and players, Kelly has subsequently been sacked by both Halifax and Hyde this season. David Dunn failed to lift the team and made a whole host of temporary loan signings which only exacerbated the crisis of confidence at Oldham.
The board showed decisiveness in removing Dunn from his post in December and bringing back the experienced John Sheridan to the club. Sheridan quickly injected life back into Oldham, making a series of astute signings and offering organisation and leadership in the dug-out. Oldham secured safety with weeks to spare when they had previously looked certain for the drop.
Oldham have become a more robust and organised side under Sheridan, led by a hard-working front two of Curtis Main and Jonathan Forte. Forte hasn’t hit the heights he did last season when he hit 13 goals in his first 18 appearances for the club before injuries curtailed his season, but has been a willing runner in attack. Main has ultimately scored the goals to keep Oldham up – at the expense of Doncaster, the club he is on loan from – and is a more physical front-man who has finally added goals to his work-rate.
In midfield, the quality mainly comes from captain Liam Kelly, who has rediscovered his best form under Sheridan. Kelly is an expert at breaking up the play in midfield, getting the ball moving forward and getting into scoring positions himself. Kelly is likely to be partnered by Timothee Dieng, formerly a centre-back, to give Oldham a greater physical edge in midfield.
Young goalkeeper Joel Coleman is yet another player who has improved under John Sheridan’s management and is starting to look like one of the brightest goalkeeping prospects in this division. The defence overall has been helped by the signing of the experienced Anthony Gerrard who is not only a dominant presence at the back but a leader as well. Gerrard’s centre-back partner James Wilson has been a bright prospect over the past few years and is looking like he’s come out the other side of a dip in form in recent weeks.
With neither of the teams here playing for anything in particular, it’s hard to tell what the approach is going to be here from either side. Although we’ve shown in recent weeks that the players are still motivated, we also saw at Doncaster that if the game gets a bit tricky for us, we can wilt. Oldham lost 3-0 to Millwall last week having already secured survival so they’ll either be on their holidays already or keen to finish the season on a high in front of their own fans.
I don’t know, 2-2 draw perhaps.