The Wrap: Bristol Rovers – 0-0

Another toothless home performance has effectively put paid to the Sky Blues’ hopes of making the play-offs this season. Against a Bristol Rovers side desperate for a point and offered little attacking threat of their own, this was a game decided by the biggest theme of Coventry City’s league season – a failure to convert spells of dominance into goals.

More Of The Same

Is there anything to say that hasn’t already been said, time after time, about our inability to convert chances?

Are we missing a goalscorer or do we just not create good enough chances?

From Amadou Bakayoko being a relatively peripheral figure in this game – aside from a brainless slide tackle that somehow wasn’t awarded a red card – to the big chances that Dominic Hyam, Luke Thomas and Jordy Hiwula missed, this was undoubtedly a game where a more composed and clinical presence in the penalty area would have won us the game.

Nonetheless, there still feels an overall problem with the speed of thought and decisiveness in our approach play. Whether it’s a lack of confidence or experience or whether it’s down to the coaching, we are a team that tends to over-complicate things and we haven’t shown signs of improving upon it over the course of the season.

A Quietly Effective Defence

The biggest positive apparent from this game was just how solid and composed we looked at the back. Against a Bristol Rovers side desperate for points and with an in-form striker, the opposition only really threatened from set-piece situations.

In particular, Dominic Hyam was a quietly authoritative and composed presence at centre-back. His ability to bring the ball out of defence is perhaps his most important attribute, especially in this recent shift towards a more possession-orientated game. In this game though, we saw that his ability to compete physically and his positional play provides the team the platform to push further up the pitch in the knowledge we have someone to tidy up at the back – even without Jordan Willis’ pace in the side.

Although Bristol Rovers’ narrow diamond formation meant that the full-backs were rarely tested, it is encouraging that we are seeing a contracted player in Brandon Mason become increasingly confident in his defensive play, Dujon Sterling meanwhile appeared to have rallied reasonably well from a difficult previous game against Barnsley.

The Summer Ahead

As our hopes of making the top six fade, thoughts inevitably turn to next season. However, it is impossible to think of next season without being concerned as to where we may end up playing and what impact that is going to have on the support, the manager, and the players we’ll have at our disposal.

Just as in 2013, the ongoing stadium dispute threatens to have an undeniably detrimental impact on a side that could well make the top six next season. Although there doesn’t appear to be players of the calibre of Leon Clarke and Callum Wilson, it has been relatively fine margins that have kept us out of the play-offs this year, there’s no reason to believe that a good summer of recruitment could make up that difference.

That Mark Robins cannot assure prospective new signings where we’ll be playing next season is likely to see us lose ground in the race to bring in the talent that can take us to the next level. As much as money is a factor in how players pick their next club, playing in front of 12,000 fans at the Ricoh Arena is a much more attractive proposition than 2,000-3,000 in a stadium outside of Coventry – which was apparent during our time in Northampton.

While each party has its red-lines, there is an obvious solution that no-one seems willing to comedown from their current positions to achieve. Coventry City leaving the Ricoh Arena puts SISU’s investment in this club in significant jeopardy, Coventry City leaving the Ricoh Arena will see an income stream for Wasps disappear, Coventry City leaving the Ricoh Arena puts strain on the Ricoh Arena project as a whole and puts the council’s position of trying to avoid the stadium becoming a white elephant in jeopardy.

There is a significant amount of blame to be apportioned to all sides in this dispute, but all that matters right now is finding a solution – whether that’s for another year or for much longer. While, in there fullness of time, there may come to be a ‘winner’ in this dispute, it is the fans who have no little power to affect a resolution and will be the most affected who lose out.

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