The Sky Blues overcame a potential banana skin at home to Peterborough United with consummate ease, in the end.
In a testing and slightly nervous first-half, Coventry City struggled to find the breakthrough with Peterborough occasionally threatening on the counter. However, the Sky Blues’ greater Championship quality and experience told in the second-half with a thunderous eight-minute display of goalscoring to put the game to bed.
First, Gustavo Hamer turned in from a rebound after testing efforts from Martyn Waghorn and Jamie Allen. Then, Hamer played Todd Kane into space down the right to provide Viktor Gyokeres with a tap-in. Finally, some excellent pressing led to a break for Martyn Waghorn to play in Viktor Gyokeres, whose effort looped into the back of the net after a hefty deflection.
On what was potentially a difficult evening, the Sky Blues passed another test with flying colours, going on to occupy the top of the nascent Championship table for a precious few minutes after the final whistle.
Wearing The Crown
It’s been an excellent start for the Sky Blues, however, early season form comes with a set of challenges to overcome in order to stay at the top. One of which is that it raises expectations. Another is that opponents set out to stifle and contain. Dealing with success is a key quality of successful teams, Coventry City demonstrated they may be capable of this.
On a Friday night at a busy Coventry Building Society Arena against an opponent scrapping for points, there was a danger this game could have been a banana skin for the Sky Blues. The team dealt with that challenge well and were rewarded with an explosion of both goals and noise in a convincing victory.
Peterborough’s main game-plan appeared to be to deploy a ‘mid block’. This involved letting Coventry City’s centre-backs have the ball in order to cut passing lanes into midfield and frustrate any rhythm the Sky Blues had been hoping to build. It was an approach that had some success, and, with a little more decisiveness in the final third, could have seen Peterborough rewarded with the result they craved.
Impressively, Coventry City adapted their strategy as the first-half wore on to counteract Peterborough’s approach. A notable feature of the team’s build-up in this game was the amount of times the play was switched to either wing-back, which moved Posh’s defence around and created the space in attack for the Sky Blue to threaten the opposing goal.
This longer passing approach was supplemented by Viktor Gyokeres’ efforts in attack. The Swede is an excellent outlet due to his physicality, skill, mobility and work-rate. For a striker in excellent form, it was impressive that he remained willing to put in the hard yards away from goal – often pulling into very wide positions. That he still came out with two goals to his name underlined why Gyokeres is such an impressive figure in attack.
This is another test that this Coventry City side has passed. The team’s current position is no fluke. It has been achieved by smart play, key players making big leaps in their development and being able to adapt in order to deal with different opponents. There will be more tests to come, but it is getting harder to doubt their Coventry City team.
Hamer Runs The Show
With big switches of play a key theme of the game for the Sky Blues, there was one man supplying them with abundance – a clue, he’s Brazilian.
Some of Gustavo Hamer’s passing in this game was simply sublime, at the heart of nearly everything good that Coventry City did, it was fitting that he broke the deadlock, he then had a big hand in the rapid fire second that followed.
Hamer has really stepped up to the mark for Coventry City this season, brushing off last year’s dip in form. What is most impressive is the increasing level of control that he is exerting over games. Hamer’s new midfield partner, Jamie Allen, is suiting him, allowing him to play in a deeper role and play with more authority.
Perhaps fortunate to avoid a fifth booking of the season in this game after a couple of agricultural challenges on Peterborough United’s star-man, Siriki Dembele, it is impressive nonetheless how much the defensive side of Hamer’s game has improved. The midfielder has demonstrated that he combines an excellent reading of the game to go alongside his capacity for the spectacular, shielding the defence adeptly.
That said, it wouldn’t be Gustavo Hamer without that capacity for the spectacular. The midfield schemer was clearly in the mood for it on this occasion, hitting a couple of testing long-range efforts that were a touch more control away from going in when the game was tied. Hamer’s first goal of the season was not particularly spectacular, but it was remarkable in its own way that the team’s nominal defensive midfielder was occupying a position around the opposition six-yard box.
Hamer’s contribution to the second goal underlined just how adept he is at adding urgency to the team’s attacking play. Most players would have wanted to take a touch of the ball Martyn Waghorn put in Hamer’s way, instead, he spotted an opportunity to play Todd Kane into space with his head and did so with great control. There is something exhilarating about how Hamer spots these kind of opportunities and is so frequently capable of executing them.
Another upshot of the importance of switching of the play in Coventry City’s performance in this game was that it placed the spotlight on Todd Kane’s crossing from right wing-back.
The new signing was certainly rewarded for his persistence with an assist here and it wasn’t as if his crossing was wayward per se, it’s just that his desired placement of balls into the box belied his lack of understanding of his teammates. Constantly looking to send floated crosses to the back-post, there was rarely a Sky Blue shirt looking to attack those kind of balls.
It is something that may well improve with more time both on the pitch and in training with his teammates but just why Kane’s crossing seemed so ineffective also raises a question as to the strengths and weaknesses of the team’s current attacking options. Theoretically, Viktor Gyokeres should relish attacking those kind of deliveries, but the Swede has yet to demonstrate he can score headers. That leaves the rest of the Sky Blues’ attacking players, none of whom are particularly prepossessing in the air.
This is why Fankaty Dabo is so important to the way the team plays. While he often finds himself in similar positions to where Todd Kane found himself in this game, his ability to produce moments of skill and attack the byline provides the team with a varied threat from that key right wing-back position.
If Todd Kane is to take Fankaty Dabo’s place in the side longer-term, he may have to demonstrate a similar level of unpredictability in his play. By a similar token, maybe there is a use for Kane as he currently is, but only if and when the team’s forwards are more willing and able to attack the ball at the back post.