The first home win Coventry City have achieved after falling behind since April 2016 was secured – of course, not technically at home – at St Andrew’s against a Blackpool side that had taken a 2-0 lead after 38 minutes. It was also a first win of the season against a team currently in the top-half. One by one, the reasons to doubt this side’s sticking power at the upper end of the division are eroding.
Great Finishing Over Great Chances
The 3-2 scoreline suggests an exciting end-to-end contest, however, it was an occasion where both teams would have been relatively satisfied with their defensive performances as well as the clinical touch that their forwards showed in front of goal.
For Blackpool, an exquisite finish from Sullay Kaikai opened the scoring very early on. That meant that until the 91st minute of the game, Blackpool were set for at least a creditable away point at a fellow promotion challenger, with the smart second goal Kaikai scored highlighting his side’s threat on the counter-attack.
The Sky Blues were largely neat and tidy in possession, with new man Liam Walsh at the base of midfield retaining possession effectively. Perhaps the off-the-ball movement wasn’t quite posing the opposition the questions that we would have wanted to, but when the ball did enter the final third, Matt Godden, Jordy Hiwula, and late substitute Callum O’Hare demonstrated the predatory instincts required to convert promising situations into the goals that won the game.
Spotlight On Kyle McFadzean
Kyle McFadzean was signed this summer primarily to lead the defence but also to complement the possession-based style that Mark Robins was looking to further implement. The difference he has made to our defending is marginal, if at all, while his passing has been much less accurate than billed, often looking to be hit and hope.
Yet, McFadzean has something about him that shouldn’t necessarily be disregarded. During the first-half, the former Burton man’s positivity with the ball at his feet gradually got us into the game. He was willing to take risks from either going long or by carrying the ball himself into the midfield.
It was McFadzean’s, perhaps slightly hopeful, long pass that led to Matt Godden’s opening goal. Additionally, McFadzean is a presence in both boxes, often seeming to magnetically draw the ball towards him, repelling several Blackpool set-pieces and getting on the end of a few of our own.
However, it also can’t be ignored that he was also a liability for long sections of the game. Some of his defensive decision-making was pretty questionable, from lunging into challenges and allowing quicker opponents to speed away from him to nodding the ball back to Marko Marosi after he had just been wiped out by a challenge, you would expect a more experienced defender to avoid the kind of mistakes he makes.
While McFadzean has a role to play in the team this season as a more aggressive, dominant presence in central defence, the composure and mobility that Dominic Hyam and Michael Rose provide look to be a better fit for what a team looking to control possession and play high up the pitch needs.
Neat and Tidy Football
It was both a credit and frustration about this performance that the team played, more or less, in the same manner between falling behind, being level and taking the lead. The addition of Liam Walsh to the midfield seemed to make things tick in possession in a way that hasn’t really happened thus far this season, but it came at the cost of the defensive protection Liam Kelly offers at the base of midfield and without really stretching the opposition in areas that mattered.
For long spells of the game, it looked like the option in possession was between safe sideways or backwards passes or long, hopeful diagonals towards Wesley Jobello. It was an approach that probably shouldn’t have resulted in three goals scored as it mostly allowed the opposition’s defence to set, while few of Wesley Jobello’s crosses created that much danger.
The quicker thinking in possession to exploit gaps in midfield felt lacking, as well as off-the-ball movement from the full-backs and central midfielders to create pockets of space in areas that hurt the opposition. A lot of our play feels fairly similar to the kind of football last season that saw us struggle to break down determined defences.
What is different this season is that we have a livelier centre-forward in Matt Godden who can pounce on half-chances and unsettle opposing defences. That may not be a threat we can rely upon over the ups and downs of a league season, if we can add that all-round threat in possession, it will be time to be really excited about our promotion credentials.