The Wrap: Millwall – 1-1

Coventry City had to settle for a point away at Millwall in a performance lacking the spark of recent displays.

The in-form Viktor Gyokeres put the Sky Blues ahead early on, tangling past Millwall’s defence to curl an accurate finish into the back of the net. Without looking under too much danger, Coventry City allowed the home side back into the game, with Jed Wallace playing George Saville through for an equaliser in the 21st minute.

Aside from a marginal disallowed goal for Millwall just before half-time, Coventry City were largely on top without really threatening to claim all three points. It was perhaps the fatigue of recent efforts showing, but it was somewhat disappointing that not more was done to grab the win.

Viktor Gyokeres And…?

Viktor Gyokeres underlined his excellent recent form in this game with a well-taken finish to put the Sky Blues ahead early in the first-half. Moreover, the Swede was clearly the team’s biggest attacking threat in this game, constantly threatening the Millwall defence with his physicality, technical skill and work-rate. Aside from Gyokeres, few of Coventry City’s other attacking players got into this game.

Perhaps it is a harsh time to judge Gyokeres’ supporting cast after a third game in the space of a week. Fatigue may have been a factor in the level of timidity that crept into the team’s attacking play. The introductions of Matt Godden, Ben Sheaf and Todd Kane into the starting line-up may also have been a factor in the lack of fluency in attack beyond Gyokeres.

As hard as Viktor Gyokeres tried to get things going, quite a few of the players around him just didn’t quite get into the game. Matt Godden alongside him tried hard but couldn’t parlay that effort into threatening the opposing goal. Similar could be said of Tyler Walker’s late cameo.

Behind the strikers, Callum O’Hare once again caused an opposing defence problems but, once again, was found wanting in his final ball – aside form one excellent reverse pass for Godden early in the second-half. It is now eight games to start the league season for O’Hare no goals and just one assist, his substitution in this game reflected that more of an end product is expected of him, despite his continued ability to get opposing defences on the turn.

It is brilliant to have a striker in Viktor Gyokeres who is in such excellent form, however, he is the only Coventry City player to contribute more than one goal or more than one assist in the league this season. If the team is to sustain it’s current position, having players around him who can step up will be important. Those other players may simply need time to settle into the season, but Mark Robins may well be thinking about changes in shape or personnel to supplement the threat Viktor Gyokeres provides.

The Threat Of Midfield Runners

For much of the early part of the season, the defence’s biggest weakness has looked to be a lack of pace on the counter-attack. The integration of Jake Clarke-Salter into the back three appears to have mitigated that in recent games. Instead, the Coventry City back-line looked most prone to the opposing team loading the box with midfield runners.

Most notably, this led to Millwall’s equalising goal. Jed Wallace broke down the left of the Coventry City defence, which left space for George Saville to make a late run into the box for the pull-back and finish. For Millwall’s disallowed goal, their extra body in the penalty area allowed Tom Bradshaw to get free of his marker from a cross. There was another big chance in the second-half for Bradshaw that manifested itself through this.

With Gustavo Hamer and Ben Sheaf often looking to step up on the opposing midfield in order to help the team’s pressing game, it occassionally left the defence flat-footed in dealing with those late runs from Millwall’s attacking players. While that could be negated somewhat by having a more naturally-minded defensive midfield player, it would reduce the team’s ability both to press and have an extra option going forward.

While there is scope for improvement in that aspect of the team’s defending, this specific weakness is often inherent in a back three. However, this has not been a trend and there is little reason to consider changing things up in order to address it.

Wing-Backs Stymied

The loss of Fankaty Dabo for suspension was always likely to be a detriment to the rhythm of this Coventry City side and that appeared to be the case here. It wasn’t just that Todd Kane didn’t quite seem to know what was expected of him in Dabo’s place but that Ian Maatsen on the other side couldn’t really get into the game either.

Kane, didn’t seem to be inclined to get forward in the same manner on the right wing as Fankaty Dabo typically does. When Kane did, he often looked to float crosses to the back-post, that his team-mates weren’t expecting, and hasn’t really been much of a feature of this Coventry City side’s play in recent years. It was far from a disastrous performance from the new signing, but Todd Kane clearly needs time on the training pitch to adapt his game to his team-mates, and maybe his team-mates need to get accustomed to what he is trying to do.

Given Kane’s teething issues on the right, the onus was on Ian Maatsen on the left to step up as the team’s chief threat in wide areas. The Chelsea loanee is clearly an intelligent, well-rounded footballer, but wasn’t quite getting in areas to be an influence. It was far from a poor performance from Maatsen, just not an impactful one, perhaps an impact of fatigue.

There were mitigating factors in the performances of both wing-backs, but the team looked less of a sustained threat in this game for not having reliable options out wide that it could turn to.

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