Coventry City played out a 0-0 draw on the road at West Bromwich Albion in a result that leaves a top six finish this season all but an impossibility.
It was yet another game where Coventry City had the opportunities to take the lead but were unable to test the opposition goalkeeper. In the first-half, the Sky Blues looked largely in control, but were wasteful in the final third. In the second-half, the Sky Blues had less control, but remained wasteful with a similar number of opportunities created.
The only threat to the 0-0 scoreline was a last-minute penalty awarded in favour of West Bromwich Albion. It felt fitting of the tone of the game that the Baggies’ Karlan Grant spurned the chance to break the deadlock.
A Touch Short
This was close to a good away performance from Coventry City, but the familiar issue of not turning promising situations into good chances and, ultimately, goals reared its head. Against a West Bromwich Albion sure that laboured through much of the 90 minutes, this was an opportunity to gain a win that could have kept Coventry City’s play-off bid alive.
Despite having a lot of the ball in the first-half, Coventry City’s main source of threat came on the counter-attack. With West Bromwich Albion looking to commit players forward, the Sky Blues had a number of opportunities to catch them out in transition. Viktor Gyokeres had a lot of joy against West Brom’s centre-backs due to the space he had to run into, while Callum O’Hare was afforded a lot of room between the lines of the opposing midfield and defence.
However, neither Gyokeres nor O’Hare played with the decisiveness required to take advantage of the opportunities that they were handed. Whether it was taking an extra touch or getting the weight of the final pass wrong, good chances to threaten the West Bromwich Albion goal were too easily allowed to pass by.
Things improved in the second-half, aided by the introduction of Martyn Waghorn in Callum O’Hare’s place. The striker gave the team the extra presence in the final third that had been missing, putting West Bromwich Albion’s defence under greater pressure when chances presented themselves to threaten their goal. Nonetheless, Coventry City were guilty of waiting for the ball to sit up for them a little too perfectly before being willing to take chances on. As a result, David Button in the West Brom goal was never really tested.
This really was a chance for Coventry City to pull off another statement result in this campaign. For all the hard work and energy the players continue to put into their performances, it is that touch of calm in the final third that has often let points pass this team by.
Another area of frustration in this game was just how little Coventry City threatened from set-pieces. For a team that has scored four goals in their past three games from dead balls, it was the decision-making with what to do from set-pieces that was especially bewildering.
The most notable thing Coventry City did from set-pieces was to take short corners which led to very little. While that may have been due to a fear that West Bromwich Albion’s height would stymie direct crosses into the box from corners, to not test that theory at all was strange. It was made all the stranger given how much of a threat Gustavo Hamer’s whipped near-post deliveries have been in recent games.
From the other set-pieces the Sky Blues had, the decision-making over which player should take it was another curiosity. While Martyn Waghorn at least justified his insistence on taking a direct free-kick close to the West Brom goal in the second-half with a decent effort, Gustavo Hamer’s deliveries were badly underutilised on other occasions in this game.
In a match where the breakthrough looked unlikely to come in open play, set-pieces could have been an area where Coventry City could have edged the contest. For something that the team has clearly worked on in recent weeks, the lack of danger the Sky Blues generated from such situations was especially strange.
If there is one player who could have made the difference for Coventry City today, it was probably Callum O’Hare. With plenty of chances in the first-half to either play teammates through or take chances himself, consistently poor decision-making from O’Hare let him, and the team, down.
It was one of those games for Callum O’Hare where, just about, every decision he made ended up being the wrong one. Whether it was passing when he had a chance to carry the ball further forward, over-hitting the ball when he had picked the right pass, or not testing the keeper when shooting, very little of what he did came off.
Those fumbles clearly got to Callum O’Hare as the game wore on. Looking out of sorts early in the second-half, his touch started to get away from him, leaving Mark Robins with little choice but to take him off. This game was a test of Callum O’Hare’s quality and he came up short in this instance.
For all the good that Callum O’Hare provides for this team, these kind of games show that he has a distance to go before he can be considered one of the best players in his position at this level. The very best don’t hesitate when handed the space O’Hare had in this game. Too often here, he had the compunction of someone who didn’t know what he was supposed to do when in good positions.
While Callum O’Hare wasn’t the only one who made bad decisions in this game, he had the most chances to get it right and continued not to. It epitomised what a frustrating performance it was from Coventry City.