It was another ‘one of those days’ for Coventry City, as they missed several big chances on the way to a 2-1 defeat at home to Huddersfield Town.
Well on top in the opening stages, big misses from Martyn Waghorn, Callum O’Hare and Dominic Hyam meant that Huddersfield Town could take the lead going into half-time, thanks to an excellent strike from Harry Toffolo.
From that point onwards, there was little danger of the lead being reversed. Limited to hopeful crosses and pot-shots, Coventry City laboured in their attacking efforts, with Huddersfield Town looking the likeliest to score next due to their counter-attacking threat. That goal eventually came from the spot, when Ben Wilson raced rashly off his line to fell Lewis O’Brien.
Looking for a quantum of positivity to send the CBS Arena crowd home for the season on, a good move from the Sky Blues saw Callum O’Hare set up Viktor Gyokeres for a late consolation goal.
Before falling behind, Coventry City missed three gilt-edged chances to take the lead. As much as this is something that can happen, a key reason why this team has not made the play-offs (and may even finish in the bottom-half) is because they have allowed big chances to pass them by a little too often.
The first big chance fell to Martyn Waghorn after a really well-worked move from the Sky Blues. Receiving a pull-back just inside the penalty area, Waghorn miscued his shot, seeing his effort saved. Perhaps this is the effect of a lack of sharpness on Martyn Waghorn’s part, but it was the kind of chance that any striker would want to end a goal drought and he didn’t quite seem to attack it with the requisite desire.
The next big chance fell to Callum O’Hare, who was played through on goal by Viktor Gyokeres and had a good amount of time and space to pick his finish. That O’Hare didn’t even manage to get his effort on target underlines the midfielder’s poor finishing technique. For someone who has recently scored twice in two games, O’Hare has quickly returned to his usual toothlessness in front of goal. For all the good that he does, the miss underlined the composure and decisiveness that continues to be missing in Callum O’Hare’s game.
The final big miss is a little bit more understandable, with the ball falling quickly to Dominic Hyam after passing through a crowd of players at a set-piece and the centre-back not making a clean enough contact with the ball. Nonetheless, it meant that the Sky Blues let a Huddersfield Town side that had started the game slowly off the hook.
It is not the first time this season that Coventry City have allowed opportunities like the ones seen in this game pass them by. As much as creating those chances indicates that the team is getting a lot right, that there is the clinical touch has not come after a full season to work on it suggests that there is also something big going wrong. Whether it can be improved over the summer, via training, a tweak in tactics or recruitment, must be one of the key areas of focus for Mark Robins.
Falling Behind To The Wrong Team
Through a combination of Coventry City’s inadequate finishing and an absolutely brilliant right-footed strike from Huddersfield Town’s left-back, Harry Toffolo, the Sky Blues found themselves behind to a team that proceeded to manage the game almost immaculately. Incredibly well-organised without the ball and offering a consistent threat on the counter-attack, there was little danger of the final result changing once the Terriers took the lead.
Throughout the game, Huddersfield Town looked to stay compact in midfield and make it difficult for the Sky Blues to play directly through them. It was a testament to their organisation in the middle of the park that Gustavo Hamer had very little influence on proceedings for much of the game.
Once they took the lead, they dropped a little deeper and were content to funnel Coventry City out wide, knowing they could deal with any crosses this led to. Perhaps, the Sky Blues’ delivery could have been better, but the numbers that Huddersfield Town had in the penalty area, along with how confident their goalkeeper, Lee Nicholls, was in claiming crosses, meant that only exceptional balls in would cause trouble.
It wasn’t a complete defensive retreat from Huddersfield Town either, as they offered enough of a counter-attack threat to keep Coventry City on their toes. In particular, the introduction of the skilful, strong and pacey Tino Anjorin from the bench gave Huddersfield a reliable out-ball to not just relieve pressure but get in behind and threaten the Sky Blues’ goal.
While the penalty and late Viktor Gyokeres goal suggest that things might have played out differently, Huddersfield did more than enough to both stymie Coventry City’s threat and give themselves a chance of adding to their lead. They may have been fortunate to take the lead, but they did exactly what they needed to in order to see out the win. For the Sky Blues, it was a lesson in how important the first goal is.
Don’t Be Deceived By Bench Impact
The introductions of Fabio Tavares and Jodi Jones from the bench provided the spark of enthusiasm that had been draining out of the team over the course of the second-half. The two were heavily involved in the move that led to Viktor Gyokeres’ late goal, leading to the inevitable question of just why neither player has been more heavily-involved this season.
For Fabio Tavares, the reason is that he remains a pretty raw young talent. As useful as his pace and enthusiasm can be, his lack of physicality looks to be his biggest issue at the moment. Tavares’ raw attributes make him a threat against tired legs, from the start, he may struggle to impose himself in order to get into the game against senior centre-backs. It may be worth testing that theory out on the final day.
For Jodi Jones, the issue is that there isn’t really a spot in the team for him to fill. A winger in a team that doesn’t play with wingers, Jones has largely been utilised from wing-back late in games where he has had almost no defensive duties and can focus solely on running with the ball. Maybe he could be used behind the strikers, but Mark Robins clearly disagrees.
There is something to be said for having players on the bench that can impact games, it is something that has probably been lacking for much of this campaign. Maybe Fabio Tavares and Jodi Jones could have made a bigger impact this season if they had been trusted to. However, Mark Robins has done more than enough to earn the trust from fans that there is a reason why these two players have made such a limited number of appearances this season.
This is a stage of the season where there is a risk of allowing a small number of minutes to distort thinking heading into the fullness of the following campaign. If Mark Robins hadn’t been planning on making Fabio Tavares a first-team squad member next year, 20 decent minutes shouldn’t change that. If Mark Robins had been planning on not extending Jodi Jones’ contract, 20 decent minutes shouldn’t change that.