The Sky Blues pulled off their most emphatic win in three years – since beating Cheltenham Town by the same scoreline in 2018 – to wrap up their first season back in the Championship since 2012.
Enjoying the better of the first-half, Coventry City went into the break two goals up, thanks to Jordan Shipley and Kyle McFadzean. An improved Millwall side rallied at the start of the second-half, forcing an own goal from Kyle McFadzean, but as soon as Dominic Hyam restored the Sky Blues’ two-goal lead, the away side faded away.
Callum O’Hare made it 4-1, before Matty James and Tyler Walker got in on the act to make it 6-1 as Coventry City said goodbye to St Andrew’s as a home venue.
A Front Three That Works
With little between the two teams in the first-half, the key area of difference was just how threatening Coventry City’s front three were. It injected a level of energy into an otherwise low-key end of season game, helping garner the belief for the team that there were goals to be scored.
With Callum O’Hare clearly in the mood, and against a defence willing to give him space to thrive in, Jordan Shipley & Viktor Gyokeres put in the hard-running to help make the most of his creative influence. O’Hare was a constant driving presence for the team, picking up the ball in dangerous areas with the intent to either create chances or get shots away.
For the second game running, Viktor Gyokeres impressed in his efforts to lead the line. The Swede’s gangly build and deceptive turn of pace has saw him hold up some fairly low percentage balls played in his direction, helping give the team a foothold in Millwall’s half.
With Gyokeres holding the ball up and O’Hare in creative form, it needed someone else in the mix to make the runs beyond them to round off the team’s attacking threat. That man was Jordan Shipley.
Having come in for some criticism this season for his lack of impact, Jordan Shipley has shown in these last two games what he can offer the team. It’s not just his ability to make runs into the penalty area from midfield but a willingness to get shots away that is something this team has lacked for much of the campaign.
The fourth goal demonstrated what an impact the combination of Gyokeres, Shipley and O’Hare were having on the game. From a long punt forward, Gyokeres’ presence allowed the ball to run for Shipley, who chipped the ball into the path of O’Hare to finish.
In the space of one-and-a-half games, the trio appear to have developed a good understanding. It’s frustrating that it’s come too late to have a tangible impact on this campaign, whether it is something that can be built upon next season is remains to be seen.
Set-Pieces Make A Difference, Again
As pleasing as some of the Sky Blues’ play in possession was in this game, it was three goals from set-pieces that turned a potentially close contest into a complete walk-over.
On the day of a nervous final day relegation battle in this division, Coventry City fans should be thankful that this team has become so proficient from dead-ball situations. Instead of being involved in that topsy-turvy scrap, this team has ended the season with in complete comfort, as underlined in this game.
Even without the team’s biggest threat this season from set-pieces, Leo Ostigard, they were still able to put Millwall’s goal under pressure from almost every dead-ball. Perhaps best demonstrated by the sixth goal, the quality of Matty James’ set-piece deliveries has made a huge impact on the team’s threat from such situations. It has been aided by some well-worked strategies, which played a role in the second and third goals the team scored.
As much as Mark Robins may want to evolve this team into becoming a more fluent unit in open-play, he would be foolish not to build on this threat from set-pieces. Having made such a difference over the past month, it could make an even bigger impact over a full season.
End of Season Folly
It would be easy to feel optimistic heading into next season off the back of such an emphatic win, but this was a final scoreline that was aided and abetted by a laissez-faire Millwall defence that probably wouldn’t have been so had it not been the final day of the season.
It was a Millwall performance characterised by how much space they left Callum O’Hare in between their lines of defence and midfield, that helped allow the Sky Blues midfielder to stand out a little more than he otherwise might have.
After such a long and hard campaign, it’s pleasing that this Coventry City side have been rewarded for their efforts with a comfortable afternoon that allowed quite a few individuals to flourish. While recent performances could be read as a sign that lessons have been learned over the course of the campaign, it shouldn’t be forgotten how this team has struggled for spells of this season.
It is crucial that Mark Robins strives for improvement, both in the transfer market and on the training pitch, wherever possible in order to avoid replicating some of the poorer periods of this campaign. As much as this end of season run of form has shown that there is something to build upon next year, the start of a new campaign will change the dynamic and this team has to be ready for that.